Whether it’s a daytrip or a cross-country trip, you need these road trip activities for kids to make the journey enjoyable for everyone. These more than 55 tips and ideas will make your next family road trip a success (and pleasant, too!).
I grew up as a military child and my children have grown up as military children. I’ve driven tens of thousands of miles across the country (and the world) and most of those were driven before videos and video games were common for car trips.
I drove my two daughters by myself from California to Arkansas (and they were 2 and 5 years old!). All we had was a cassette tape player in our old car and a portable CD player. We survived the very long car trip and even had fun doing it.
Tip – If you’re taking a car drive to national parks, this free guide is worth incorporating into your planning.
What are fun things to do on a road trip?
- Select a book to read to listen to that is related to your trip or the area you’re traveling through.
- Choose a story style podcast or audio story.
- Our family really enjoys the podcast, Business Wars. It’s great for older kids and adults.
- Bring games designed for a car trip.
- Take turns letting each person choose a song.
- Choose favorite songs.
- Choose songs from a decade.
- Choose songs by a favorite artist or group.
- Make it a game
- Each person takes a turn choosing a song based on the letters of the alphabet. You can have them choose a band or a song name based on the letter.
- Take the time to create a family keepsake based on family memories and experiences.
- You can adapt the workbook I created to record family histories, My Legacy, My Story. Print out enough copies to record the information for each person in the car.
- Pack travel backpacks with items chosen specifically for the trip, the specific child and their interests.
- Schedule naptimes and play soothing music to encourage sleeping.
- Create busy bags filled with activities, toys and fun ideas to be handed out every couple of hours during the trip.
Road Trip Activities for Kids
Select activities based on the children’s ages, attention spans and personal interests. The goal is to keep children entertained and engaged so that they don’t get restless, whiny or frustrated.
Choose engaging books to read or listen to
- Kindle Unlimited is a great option.
- Most public libraries also have a great selection of audio books and often access to audio programs you can access on your phone.
Play games tailored for a road trip
- Road Trip Scavenger Hunt – Grab my free 4-page game. You can print out several copies and play the game again and again. It will be new each time as the countryside changes along the trip.
- License Plate Game – this is a nostalgic game that is always popular
- You can work together as a team to find license plates from each state. Start alphabetically and work through all the states. Or call out the different state plates you see and have one person write them down.
- You can print out and bring copies of my free License Plate Game Scavenger Hunt that has 4 different game boards
- Play Car Trip Travel Games for Kids
- Play Let’s Find – It’s a twist on the game “I Spy”. One person chooses an item that everyone in the car has to search for. Common example are, a brown cow, a yellow sign, a green car, a pond or a hotel sign. The only rule is that it has to be an item that could possibly be found in the area you’re driving through.
- Play Let’s Find with letters or colors.
- Play the rhyming word game. One player starts with a word and passengers take turns saying a rhyming word until no one can think of any more words. Play a silly version where only made up words count.
- Play the Name Game – The first person starts with the first and last name of a real person with a name that starts with the letter A. The next person has to take the last letter of the last name and use that letter for the first letter of the person’s first name. For example, the first player says “Adam Ant.” The second player then has to come up with a person with a first name starting with the letter “T”. The second player then says Tiger Woods. The third player has to come up with a name starting with the letter “S”.
- Bring road trip designed games
- Shotgun Road Trip – a fun game for the family specifically designed for car trips. For ages 12 and above. You can team younger kids with older ones to make the game accessible for younger kids.
- Guess in 10 Animal Questions – For ages 6 and up. Ask up to 10 questions to figure out the animal listed on the card.
- Reusable Auto Bingo Cards – 4 different cards with items to find. Extra fun because it includes windows you slide closed when you locate the item.
- Travel Tanagram Puzzle – 14 colorful magnetic pieces designed to problem solve patterns.
- Battleship the Travel Version – A portable version of the popular Battleship game designed for travel.
- Connect 4 Travel Version – A portable version of the family favorite Connect 4 game.
Take turns selecting songs
Allow passengers to take turns selecting the next song to play.
Plan for physical activity at rest stops
Plan for at least 10 – 20 minutes physical activity every two to three hours. Children need to move and burn off their extra energy. Plan this time and plan activities to get them moving.
- Bring a nerf ball to throw around or a frisbee.
- Have child race to a tree or sign and back and time them. Encourage them to beat their time and try several times until they’re tired.
- Have children skip or hop around.
- Bring sidewalk chalk and have children play hopscotch.
Learn a new language
Choose a new language to learn as a family. There are great language learning options like Babbel available.
Make road trip goodie bags
Travel goodie bags are a great way to break up the monotony of the trip with a surprise.
What you need to make road trip goodie bags
- Get the free 4-page printable road trip goodie bag resource below.
- Decide how often you want to give a goody bag to your child. Then determine how many bags you’ll need for the trip and for the total number of children.
- You can use gift bags, paper lunch sacks or repurposed store shopping bags.
- Select treats to put into the bags.
How to make road trip goodie bags step-by-step
Choose how you’ll identify the travel activity bags.
- A different color for each child.
- A different color for each new road trip grab bag.
- Use the free travel goodie bag labels available below or bags you already have.
Decide what categories of treats you’ll place in the bags. Plan to provide snacks near your child’s normal snack time. Look for toys that will keep little hands busy (and not bothering siblings) and older kids engaged so they don’t get bored-grumpy.
Snacks – look for snacks that are minimally messy and easy to clean up (because spills will happen). You can keep cold drinks and items that need refrigeration in a cooler and simply place a note in the bag with the name of the item. The following items are a good idea:
- Fresh fruit cut into bite-size pieces
- Granola bars
- Drink mix packets to mix with water
- Trail mix
- Dry cereal
- Celery and carrot sticks
Keep kids engaged and distracted from getting restless with activities and toys. You can find many inexpensive ideas at your local dollar store or even make your own DIY activities. You can also find versions of most of these items in versions for big kids and the whole family. Fun ideas to include:
- Small toys that involved imaginative play
- Sticker books
- Finger puppets – these road trip themed puppets are a fun way to keep kids busy
- Activity books – you can purchase them for different ages and interests (my older girls really enjoyed these fashion activity books) or even make your own printable superhero one
- Smithsonian 40-page free bilingual travel activity guide
- Mad Lib books
- Card games
- Pipe cleaners, wiki sticks or other craft supplies to keep hands busy and minds being creative
- Invisible ink books – These unusual activity books are a special, unexpected treat
- Coloring books
- Make your own DIY activity board with a baking sheet (you can get inexpensive ones from the dollar tree store) and magnetic letters, numbers and play pieces
- Dry erase board and markers or a dry erase travel set
- Brain Teasers
Decide whether you’ll hand the road trip travel goodie bags out when you stop at rest stops or during the long drive. If you will be handing them out from the front seat, be sure to plan ahead a little bit to place the bags where you can easily reach them.
Expert Tips for Printables
How do I access the road trip goodies bag printable?
Fill in the form above. When you submit the form, you will immediately be sent an email from Organized 31 with a link to the VIP Resources Library, including detailed instructions on how to access your printable. If you can’t find the welcome email after 3-4 minutes, check your spam folder. If you have any difficulty, you can email me and I’ll help you resolve any problems.
How do I print the pdf file?
The pdf usually opens right up when you click on the link in the VIP Resources Library. When that happens, simply right click on the pdf and either print or save the document to your device.
If the pdf does not pop up for you, you’ll most likely find it in your computer’s Downloads folder. You can also select “Downloads” in your browser menu to see a list of your downloads, then select “Show in folder” below the file name to see where it is located on your computer.
I’m worried about wasting printer ink – what can I do?
Most printers offer you the option to print in greyscale which is in black and white.
You can also look for the option to print in draft or economy mode. This usually means that the sheet is printed out with less ink. It still looks great and is a good way to print in color but use less ink.
How can I use the printable (what restrictions are there on use)?
You can print this printable pdf as many times as you’d like for your personal or classroom use. Please do not share the file with family, friends or coworkers. Please do share the link to this post so they can access their own copy of the printable. All printables are copyrighted.
Looking for more road trip and travel tips?
- Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip
- Reasons Why You Need a Trip Planner
- Traveling with Kids – The Must-Haves Guide
Be sure to pin these road trip activities for kids ideas so you can find them each time you plan a trip.