Most people drive to St. George, Utah.  We get a lot of vacationers from the Salt Lake City area that just need to get away from the inversion, snow, colder weather, and crowds in Northern Utah.  St. George is 300 miles south of Salt Lake on I-15.

So if you’re traveling to Southern Utah with kids, which a lot of you are, you have 4-5 hours in the car with your prodigy.

This blog post is about the car time with your loved ones while you head south.  Honestly, I think road trips with your kids are a blessing.  Seriously.  How often do you have  a long stretch of time with your kids uninterrupted by TV, homework, phone calls, their friends, or other distractions?

Here are some suggestions to make your road trip to St. George memorable for all the right reasons:

Play Family Games – 

I-15 To St. George Game:  Print the card below.  Have a prize ready for the kid that is able to fill out the card first.  Just be ready to referee between kids as each sighting of a bingo card item can only be used once by the kid who calls it out first.

License-Plate Game: Print out a map of the United States. Each time someone spots a license plate from a different state, mark the map.  Or, print off the free license plate game here, where kids cross off the U.S. states and Canadian provinces as they spy them. For older kids learning U.S. geography, we recommend the map version, which shows how far away each car originated.

Vehicle Count: Have kids practice their counting skills with goals like “Find 25 green cars.” Older children can guess how many pickup trucks or Honda brand cars will pass in 10 minutes. The winner chooses the music.

The Leader Game: Everyone in the car gets to be the leader for an hour “in charge of choosing the travel games, the radio station, the DVD, and, if you’d like, the seating arrangement.”

I Spy: “I spy with my little eye, something red.” This easy-to-learn game can keep preschoolers entertained for unbelievably long periods of time.  The directions are simple – One person spies something and recites the line, ending in a clue. Everyone else takes turns trying to guess the mystery item.

20 Questions:  This easy game is great for younger kids, thanks to its straightforward rules. Player One thinks of a person, place, or thing. Everyone else takes turns asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. After each answer, the questioner gets one guess. Play continues until a player guesses correctly.

Window Gallery:  Use washable window markers to make colorful creations that even passersby can enjoy, or to play endless, paper-free games like tic-tac-toe and hangman. Keep a cotton cloth or dust rag handy so kids can keep the window fun going throughout the trip — just make sure the driver’s view isn’t blocked!

Sing a Song Together:  Bone up on sing-along songs. Or buy or make a tape or CD of “round” songs if your kids are younger (like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “Three Blind Mice,” etc.) or sing-along/participation songs (“Old MacDonald,” “B-I-N-G-O”) that will get everyone — even the most tone-deaf — involved. Buy a kazoo or plastic harmonica for every family member for added accompaniment.  Well, maybe don’t do this one if your husband has a headache. If you have older kids, it’s fun to sing along to broadway musicals.

Get To Know Your Kids

Teenagers and Tweens

  • Talk with them. Get the conversation going by telling tales of your childhood. Kids love to hear about their parents at their same age.  You can skip the story about missing school in the winter to go skiing at Alta.
  • Listen. A car provides an ideal venue for older children to open up about their feelings. Since the driver looks straight ahead and the passengers often do too, conversation feels much less judgmental than a face-to-face talk. On a long stretch of highway when it’s dark, you’re likely to find out what it felt like to strike-out in the seventh inning of their baseball game.
  • Let teens pick aspects of the trip. The ultimate procrastinators, most teens won’t have given your journey much thought, although they will express definite opinions. Once on the highway, hand your teens guidebooks and travel apps so they can choose a few activities and restaurants while you’re in St. George.
  • Share music. Music really can soothe the soul. Ask your teens to share songs from their iPods or MP3 players that the family might like. Ask them why they like the song and what it makes them think of.

Grade School and Preschoolers

  • Vary the seating. After a couple hours of driving it’s common to hear such cries as “His hand is on my side of the seat.” To manage a meltdown, divide and conquer. Switch places so that the child old enough to sit in the front moves next to the driver. If there’s another adult, have him sit in the rear. That not only stops squabbles, but gives each child important one-on-one time with a parent or grandparent.
  • Use the baby to mark a border. With three children, place the littlest one in the middle of the car’s backseat. That creates a buffer zone between fighting older siblings and positions two kids to play with the tot.
  • Arrive by late afternoon. After a day on the road, everybody looks forward to an out-of-car experience. Plan to arrive at your daily destination well before dinner so that you and the kids can take advantage of the swimming pool or play area.

Babies and Toddlers

  • Understand your family’s rhythms of the road. Some families prefer putting little ones in pajamas and starting the drive after dinner when traffic diminishes and kids sleep. Others find that early-morning departures enable them to be at their destination before the late-afternoon, so kids can get their energy out before bedtime.
  • Work with a tot’s schedule. Maximize little ones’ nap time by driving when they sleep and stopping for meals when they are hungry. Don’t expect your 3-year-old not to be tired when it’s her nap time just because you’ve arrived at the children’s museum.
  • Be prepared. Keep lots of wet wipes, paper towels, and diapers as well as a few trash bags and extra clothes within easy reach.

Don’t dread the road trip, which can be part of the fun of going on vacation to St. George, Utah.  Think of the time in the car as an opportunity to get to get to know your kids even more.  I’m sure you have some suggestions or games your family likes to do while on I-15.  Please share – leave a  comment.  Thanks.