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These road trip activities for kids and car games for families are the perfect way to keep kids entertained during a long drive. Turn transit time into fun time with road trip games and toys that kids will love, from toddlers to teens. Family road trips just got a whole lot more exciting with these fun ideas for long car trips!
We have also shared games the whole family can play, plus a few road trip games for adults for when the kids are asleep! Or when you are escaping for a trip without them…
Preparing For Your Road Trip With Kids
For those with short attention spans (a.k.a. kids), long road trips can be frustrating.
“Are we there yet?”
“Well, how much longer?”
Sound familiar? It’s those dreaded words parents hope not to hear when setting off for a long car trip with kids.
Turn that long drive into an exciting journey by having games to play on the road and car activities that will reduce how often you hear those words.
It may not completely eliminate complaining, but having toys and games to keep the kids stimulated while confined to the car seat is sure going to make all your lives easier for the next however many days of highways you are covering to your destination.
Quick Tips For Road Trips With Kids
Before we get into the fun stuff, you want to make sure you are well prepared for your trip. Comfortable kids are happy kids… usually!
Pack plenty of healthy snacks – Check out these road trip food ideas to help you plan and come up with the best snack ideas. A special treat or two on the road isn’t a bad idea either!
Keep them comfortable – Loose clothing, pillow, blanket
Favourite toy – Have kids pick a favourite toy to bring from home for extra comfort such as a soft toy they sleep with.
Stop often – Let them stretch their legs, use the bathroom and enjoy some fresh air as often as you can.
Mini adventures – Take 15-minute breaks at a rest stop and explore the area around where you have stopped.
Time to avoid the dreaded car boredom with fun road trip activities for kids and car games for keeping your kids entertained on the road. These road trip games, car activities and toys include something for children of all ages for long drives.
Most of these toys and activities are also perfect for other long distance travel too, on planes, trains and boats!
1. Puzzle & Activity Books
Crosswords, word searches, sudoku… depending on the age of your child, puzzle books are a compact activity to pack into a road trip activity kit.
For younger children, dot to dot, mazes and activity books aimed at their skill level are a great option.
Or challenge the family to the license plate game or some road trip bingo that you bring along with you.
2. Books & Magazines
Pack a couple of new or favourite books for your child to read during the drive. For toddlers, board books will keep them entertained for a few minutes.
Older kids, teens and tweens can easily pass longer periods of time engrossed in a book or magazine. Make sure you let them pick what they want to read, otherwise they won’t enjoy it at all!
3. Printable Travel Activities & Games
There are plenty of incredible activity bundles for road trips that you can print out before you go. We have a mammoth 16-page road trip activity bundle in our online store and it always helps fill lots of time when we are on the road.
It has road trip scavenger hunt games, crossword, puzzles, letter of the alphabet game, journalling activities to record the interesting things they see and so much more in this printable road trip games bundle.
We never leave home without packing a colouring book for our kids when we travel.
The simplicity and mindfulness of a colouring session is a good way to keep kids calm and busy while letting them get creative with minimal mess involved.
ROAD TRIP TIP: Connector pens are a good option if your kids are old enough to be trusted with pens since clipping them together means less time spent retrieving them off the car floor.
5. Play Anywhere Games
Hangman, telephone, rock-paper-scissors, and hand games can be fun without much effort.
Hangman can be played with 2 people or with the whole family while you drive. Bring a blank notepad and spare pens along for this one.
6. Travel & Car Games
If you have more than one child of similar ages, car games can be a great way for kids to make the most of the drive time.
Magnetic and travel-size board games are perfect for a long road trip, with less chance of pieces getting dropped or lost in the car and becoming missing pieces forever. They also work well when you are at your destination too!
Older kids find this activity horrifying (nothing is more embarrassing than having their parents sing!), but this can be fun for younger kids. Pick a few songs that everyone can sing, and let out your tunes!
Or set your bigger kids up with their own headphones and playlist for some backseat out-of-key karaoke.
Rather than playing music, audio books are another great option. Audible members have access to a huge library of free books for kids or download a few family podcasts to listen to together.
10. Portable DVD Player Or Streaming
If you’re lucky enough to have portable DVD players or in-seat screens, bring several DVDs on your trip.
As much as screen time might not be your ideal choice, it can keep the kids busy for hours when there’s nothing else to do or when they need some chill-out time.
Alternatively, load up a tablet with movies instead. If you have Netflix, Disney+ or any of the other streaming services, you can usually download to watch later when you aren’t on Wifi.
11. Hand-Held Games
Portable hand-held games are always fun for boys and girls and will keep kids happy who like to spend some time at home gaming too.
A Nintendo Switch Lite works great for travel, but it doesn’t need to be a fancy gaming device! You can get plenty of cheap handheld games pre-loaded with heaps of retro games for kids to discover.
12. Osmo Base
For tech-loving younger kids, instead of handing them a device loaded with cartoons, an Osmo Base is a great way to bring learning on the road.
Osmo Base works with a tablet and incorporates physical play materials with interactive learning programs and activities.
Many kids hate napping, but it seems to come easier car trips!
Encourage your kids to sleep while you are on the road. It will help them pass the time quicker and should give you a few hours of peace and quiet.
Make sure you pack them a pillow and blanket in the backseat to use whenever they want it, along with comfortable clothing to make sleep easier.
A car window blind can help block out bright sunshine during the day too, to help kids to sleep easier.
Road Trip Rewards Hack
If your kids love earning pocket money, offer incentives for being quiet and getting along. This can be a fun way to earn them spending money for your trip and encourage good behaviour along the way.
A member of our community shared her road trip rewards system:
“When I was a kid, my dad would give my brother and me a dollar for every hour we were quiet and getting along. However, if we argued, we lost all of our money and had to start at zero again. It works great with our kids too!”
Road Trip Toys & Games For Older Kids
These activities are great for keeping older kids busy in the backseat, without allowing them to spend their entire time on electronic devices! Instead, give them creative fun along the way.
LEGO Classic Creative Suitcase Building Kit
This LEGO travel case is a perfect take-along building kit with storage and able to be used as a building table as well.
SmartGames IQ XOXO Travel Game for Kids and Adults
120 different activities and learning opportunities in one compact travel game set with the SmartGames IQ.
Matty’s Toy Stop Brik-Kase 2-GO
This travel building case is compatible with major block brands and has a base plate built onto the outside of the travel case.
This LEGO playset folds up for storage of the pieces for a fun way to use their imagination when away from home.
Melissa & Doug Secret Decoder Spy Bundle
Discover the mystery with the secret decoder and mystery reveal ink books. The pens don’t leave marks on anything else as they are just water-based, so no need to worry about markers staining the backseat.
BusyBags – Travel Activity Bag for Kids
These backpacks are already loaded with heaps of fun activities for kids so you don’t have to do much preparation at all before you start your road trip.
Keep your younger passengers occupied with toddler and pre-school suitable car activities they will love. These toddler car toys are a great way to keep kids who typically don’t stop entertained for a while.
Activities kids can play with the rest of the family to keep the trip interesting and fun between stops. This is a great family bonding opportunity during your long drive, with ways you can all play together while even while on the road.
Kids Against Maturity: Card Game for Kids and Families
The funny Kids Against Maturity card game is highly rated and a popular choice for families. Also, a good one to play when you stop overnight or reach your destination.
Briarpatch Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game for Kids
Scavenger hunts can be an easy way to involve the whole family. From searching for a number plate with the letter Z to finding a red car, it will keep everyone entertained and alert.
Skillmatics Guess in 10 Animal Planet Card Game of Smart Questions for Families
The Guess in 10 card game is a fun challenge to play against one another while driving. Suitable for ages 6 and up, this is sure to get you thinking.
SmartGames Ghost Hunters Travel Game for Kids and Adults for (Ages 6 & Up)
60 different challenges for kids and adults to play together with the Ghost Hunters stem travel game.
SmartGames Temple Trap Cognitive Skill-Building Travel Game with Portable Case Featuring (Ages 7 & Up)
Use brainpower to create your escape path from the cursed ancient temple with over 60 challenges in a portable travel case.
Osmo – Genius Starter Kit for iPad + Family Game Night
Power up family game night with Osmo Genius Starter Kit + Family Games! Kids will love exploring STEAM topics on their own or with the family. Foster a love of engineering, art, math, and reading with seven ways to play and learn. Includes the base Osmo kit to use with your existing iPad or tablet.
Osmo – Genius Tangram
Fun-filled & award-winning learning games on the Osmo. Players interact with actual Tangram handheld pieces & an iPad or Tablet, bringing the game pieces & actions to life (No WiFi necessary for game play).
Car trips can be loads of fun with a little planning, but with cranky kids, they can be a nightmare! Be sure to bring plenty of entertainment for the kids with these fun road trip activities and games, and it will help you have a smooth trip.