Maybe it’s Sea World, or Disney World or just a relaxing stroll down the coast. Whatever it is, you’ve decided this summer you’re not going to fly, you’re going to put the pedal to the metal and drive. The cost of gas is up, but at least you’re not waiting for hours in long security lines at the airport.

Then again, once you've eaten your way through half the snacks you’ve packed and listened to most of the CDs, the long road ahead can look even longer. Here are five low-maintenance games to combat the road trip blues:
  • True or Just Kidding. Take turns saying a couple of things you did that day, with one being the truth and one being a joke. Ask your child to tell you which one really happened and which one is made up. For instance, “I went to the grocery store today and I also went to the moon to get moon rocks.” Your preschooler is bound to crack up laughing at the ridiculous things you come up with. Let your child have a go at it, too.
  • Travel Tickets. Before the trip (as if you don’t have enough to do!) cut out some small rectangles, using different colors of construction paper. Give each child a little baggie with his or her "tickets" inside. Decide on a time or event when  you, as the conductor, will collect the tickets. Perhaps it's every thirty minutes. Perhaps it's every time they see a cow, or a red sports car, or a tractor. The thrill of the hunt will keep most kids entertained. But as enthusiasm (and tickets) wane, let them know there will be a small prize when all the tickets have been collected. It's a perfect excuse for a pit stop.
  • What Would You Rather Be? Give your child two options, such as, “Would you rather be a frog or an elephant?” or  "A firefighter or a policeman?" Ask her to pick and tell you why. Not only will this game get them thinking, but it will give you some insight into their character as well.
  • Map It. Go to AAA or a large bookstore and find a small map of your destination. Give each child their own copy and let them track your route with stickers and pens, to indicate where you’ve stopped or what they’ve seen along the way. You can pass out a compass and teach your kids about north, south, east, and west. As you make turns, see if they can guess which direction you’re headed. Who knows, maybe by the end of the trip, they’ll be helping you navigate your way! It will also be a nice keepsake when the trip is over.
  • License Plate Game. Make a map (or print one out on the computer) of the 50 states. As you drive along, have the kids color in the states of the license plates they see on the road. They can even indicate how many of each plate they see. Have them save the map to use all summer and see if they can get “Hawaii” by Labor Day!
A good parent traveler is a prepared parent traveler. Go ahead and give them the magnadoodles, books-on-tape, playdoh, etch-a-sketch, cards, and any other inexpensive goodies you think will make the trip more pleasant. They're all great ways to combat boredom, too. Get the family singing. And if you have to call in the reserves and resort to an ice cream cone at the side of the road, go for it. A car full of happy children won’t make the drive any shorter, but it will make it part of the vacation, not just the slog you had to survive to get there.