Are you looking for something for your kids do to on your next road trip? I’ve come up with 9 entertaining road trip activities for kids to help you out. I’m kind of an expert.
When I was a kid, my dad loved to travel. I spent every summer in a car or van touring the US. I’ve spent a good number of hours of my young life on long road trips. I’d say I’m on the borderline of “road trip activity expert” just due the sheer number of hours I’ve put in. Just keep in mind, all I had for entertainment was mixed cassette tapes I recorded off the top 40 station and coloring books (No tablets or smart phones…come to think of it, we didn’t even have cell phones AHHHH!!).
Based on all the knowledge I’ve gleaned and all the amazing new improvements in toys and electronics as well as having a child of my own on long car trips I’ve come up with a list I think will give you a little road trip survival inspiration.
- I put this little tablet in the number 1 spot simply because I feel like it’s so diverse.
- Movies- If you have an Amazon Prime account there are many Prime kids movies you can download to your device for free and watch in the car without needing internet. I downloaded Thomas & Friends movies as well as Veggie Tales.
- Books- The Kindle is also an electronic library of books. Anyone can read their favorite books on it and you can read them in the dark (no book-light needed).
- Music- You can download your MP3’s from your Amazon cloud player and listen on the go.
- No DVD’s- I once took a DVD player in the car and by the time I switched out the disk and made sure the thing was plugged in I was seriously kicking myself for not bringing the Kindle. One other problem I ran into was losing the discs or damaging them as we traveled.
2. Books On CD
- Free Audio Books- Every time we head out on a long car trip that’s going to be over 5 hours, I go to the library and check out audio books on CD. You can find new, classic and family favorite books on CD that the whole family can listen to together.
- Pick the Family Favorites- You can always find your child’s favorite children’s literature on CD. We have listened to a ton of great books that really keep us entertained like Harry Potter and Eragon.
- Learn Something or Be Inspired- If your kids are all watching a movie in the back, consider getting an audio CD from Dave Ramsey or another nonfiction author to inspire you as you drive. These discs are always catalysts to some good parent communication between me and my husband. These inspirational audio CD’s tend to wake the dreamer in both of us.
3. Give Your Kids A Quest With A Treasure at the End
- Coloring Books- Challenge your child to color every single page in their coloring book on the trip as neatly as they can as if they were a book illustrator. Add an incentive by saying that if they complete the quest, you will stop somewhere special for a meal or treat along the trip.
- Educational Books- Grab some age/grade appropriate practice books in a subject your child actually likes from the store. An example would be practice books for 3rd grade math or reading comprehension. Just don’t pick books with subjects your kids hate as a way to force them to learn. That will go south quick. Let them be challenged but enjoy the subject. Tell your child that their quest is to complete the book on the trip and that you will reward them with a special treat at the end.
- Summer Reading- Maybe your child has mandatory summer reading to do. Grab those books and tell your child that for each book they complete on the journey you will give them a special prize. If they are really long books and your child struggles with reading, consider giving an incentive such as, for every 5 chapters you complete, you get a prize. That will help your slow reader avoid getting overwhelmed or frustrated.
4. Coloring with Color Wonder
- No Mess- My moms biggest fear was that I was going to lose a crayon in the van that would melt into the carpet. Today Crayola brand has Color Wonder markers that are clear until they are used on the special crayola Color Wonder paper. Once the marker touches the paper the color begin to show.
- I regularly find the paper and kits on clearance at Target.
- It’s a non messy way to color on car road trips.
- Everyone gets hungry on long road trips.
- Stopping at gas stations for snacks can get expensive and it’s always the healthiest.
- Single Serve- Up & Up brand at Target has these cool zip lock baggies that have the serving sizes measured and marked on the bags. You could load the bags with single servings of your child’s favorite snacks and keep them stocked up in the care for anytime those stomachs start growling.
- Keep a variety of foods so kids can choose and the options don’t get boring.
6. Road Trip King or Queen
- If you want to encourage your kids in positive behavior on the trip let them know that you will choose a “Road Trip King or Queen” on each leg of the journey.
- Lay down the rules you have for the car. Let them know you are looking for the person who is most courteous, who cleans up after themselves and follows directions.
- Reward-The King or Queen gets to decide where you eat or a special activity at the theme park. There’s also bragging rights.
7. Calming Glitter Bottles
- Traveling can be stressful if the weather turns bad or traffic piles up.
- Help your children help you by giving them each a bottle of water filled with glitter and tell them to shake the bottle for 10 seconds and then they need to flip the bottle over and remain quite until the glitter has all sunken to the bottom. (You’ll want lock that lid down with some crazy glue).
- Johanna Spaulding at My Crazy Blessed Life has one of the best tutorials I’ve seen for making on of these. Check out the instructions here.
8. Invention Challenge-
- I created one of these that you can print for free here.
- Simply give the page to your kids and challenge them to invent a new thing.
- You can make it specific like a new athletic shoe, soda, candy bar or toy.
- They should give it a name, design it on paper, talk about what it does, how it tastes or what flavors are in it.
- It can also be broad for your super imaginative kids- just invent something new.
9. Movie Marathon-
- If your trip is particularly long, you can grab movies that have a series of DVD’s.
- Example: Chronicles of Narnia, Disney Series, Harry Potter or whatever works for your kid’s age groups.
- Theme Out Your Trip- It take a little creativity but you could make the drive a themed one. If you chose Chronicles of Narnia, bring along a few of the books, have kids color particular scenes from the movie they liked, bring along some Turkish Delights for them to try. There are also tons of great candy replica’s from the Harry Potter movies!
So there you have it! 9 entertaining road trip activities for kids. I hope that these give you a little creative inspiration as you plan your family road trip. Please feel free to share any things you do on long car trips that your kids love in the comments section below!
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!