Play "I Spy" with physical and cultural characteristics you see as you travel. First, look around and silently pick a characteristic that everyone will be able to see. Say: "I spy with my little eye . . ." Then describe the characteristic and have your family members take turns trying to guess what you see.
Play a Geography Game
Say the place name of any city, state, country, or continent in the world. The next person has to think of a place that begins with the last letter of the previous place name. For example, person 1 says Texas. Person 2 uses the final "s" and says South Carolina. Person 3 uses the final "a" and says Albany. Keep going until no one can think of any more names. Then use a world map or atlas to keep going! The only rules are to never use the same place twice and to only use real places.
Mark a Map
Bring a large map on family road trips. Use a highlighter to mark each road you take as you travel.
Be the designated navigator or map monitor for your family road trip. Trace your family's progress on a map. Once an hour, report on your current location, direction of travel, the next exit, the nearest town, and the next state.
State License Plates
Before you leave, print a map of the United States or a list of all the states. As you travel, identify how many state license plates you see. Color them in as you go.
Use an Atlas
Plan a vacation for your family. Learn as much as you can about the place or places you will go so you know how best to prepare and pack. Using a road map or atlas, figure out the number of miles or kilometers to your destination. Then, double the number of miles or kilometers to figure out how far it is from your house to the locale, then back to your house.
Explore Public Lands
Plan a vacation for your family to explore one or more public lands. Identify the states where your vacation will take you. Use a road map to highlight the best driving route. Determine the total miles of the trip and calculate how much time it will take. Research each of the places you plan to visit and decide what activities your family can do. Create an itinerary, including popular or scenic hiking trails, special ranger programs, roadside exhibits, visitor centers, lectures, demonstrations, and museums. Keep track of locations, times, reservation numbers, fees, and safety tips.
Identify Your Climate Zone
Is it tropical, dry, mild, continental, polar, or high elevation? What is the climate zone of the place you are traveling to? Have a discussion. Why are some places popular destinations for summer or winter vacations? Has your family ever made a decision about whether to travel to a location based on its climate?