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“We’re planning a three week road trip with kids,” my friend said to me. There was complete fear in her eyes.
“THREE KIDS. DRIVING. FOR HOURS. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.” she reiterated.
I get it. Traveling can be super fun, but we’ve probably all been on road trips with kids where we’ve hit our max of being in the car together.
I’ve been there.
Road Trip Tip: Busy Bags
“Make each kid a busy bag,” I shrugged.
It’s something I learned a while back when the oldest kids were young. I made a tote tailored to each of their interests and I hid them in the car until we all hit the breaking point. They bags included some old things, some of their favorite things, and some new items. Then, I whipped those road trip activities out and saved all of our sanity.
No matter how great a road trip with kids sounds (and how excited everyone is), there will be a point where you will all get on each other’s nerves.
(It’s okay, it happens to the best of us.)
The best way to lessen the amount of “Don’t make me pull this car over!” threats or child sacrifices is to be prepared.
Here’s a great list of “road trip with kids” activities — from toddler to 10 year olds to teens and beyond.
Check it out! (You can thank me later.)
Road Trip with Kids | Things To Do on a Long Car Ride
Rubberneckers is, hands-down, our favorite family “road trip with kids” travel game. If you only buy one road trip car game, then THIS is the one because kids (and adults) will both enjoy it and all ages can play!
We’ve been playing this road trip game for years, since our oldest daughters were young. It’s part scavenger hut/I Spy and part double dog dare you. Some of the cards have you searching for items (a weathervane, a soft drink on a sign) or perform a dare like waving to the car in the next lane with your foot.
Points are assigned for the person who performs the dare or spots the item.
If you have multiple cars, buy a couple of games to keep in each car. We keep it in the car at all times in the event that we get stuck in traffic or decide to do an impromptu day trip. It’s been a sanity saver on more than one occasion!
LISTED AGE RANGE: 3-12 years (but the older kids and adults enjoy it just as much)
50 Road Trip Games is exactly what it sounds like: 50 games you can play on the road.
There are 50 total cards and each card has a different game that you can play while traveling in a car, plane, train, (boat, rickshaw, whatever).
Some of the games need minor accessories, like notebooks and pencils.
LISTED AGE RANGE: 4 years and up
No matter how old you are, you’ve probably played the “Spot the License Plate” game while traveling. (Heck, when I was a kid that and some books was all we had…) And, it’s still fun for all ages today!
Grab a set of these License Plate Travel Sticker Books and you can keep the whole car entertained for hours. Up the ante by offering a special prize (like this cool Thinking Putty) to the one who fills their book first with the included stickers for each state.
For the older kids, this book also has a place to write the capital of the state — a little something extra to keep the older kids occupied.
LISTED AGE RANGE: 3 years and up
The trick to a road trip with kids is to keep them busy. I’m a sucker for travel bingo just because of the sheer simplicity (and busyness) of it.
Not only can multiple people of any age play, but you don’t need anything else!
Flip the flaps when you find the item and it keeps track of your bingo play. Super easy!
This Melissa & Doug pack has multiple cards (like vehicles, town, country, etc.) so that your travelers won’t easily get bored with, “We’ve done these before!” There are also other other travel bingo options out there that are just as cool.
LISTED AGE RANGE: 4 and up
5. Mad Libs
Look, no one can ever go wrong with Mad Libs, no matter the age.
They’re the stories where you blindly input nouns, verbs, colors, etc. into blank spaces and then you read the stories with your words, which ends up being quite funny.
The great thing about Mad Libs is that they can work for ages preschool and up as long as you have someone who can read or write (um, like you). Instead of asking a preschooler for a verb, you can ask them for a word with someone doing something.
LISTED AGE RANGE: Kindergarten and up
This awesome National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas offers maps, games, activities and more to keep the kiddos busy and make your road trip with kids a learning experience.
According to the product description, “This book includes easy-to-read, simple road maps of each state and Washington, D.C., and a map of the United States. State symbols, cool things to do, boredom busters, fun facts, wacky roadside attractions, and games accompany the maps and provide engaging information with stunning photographs that will keep kids engaged for hours.”
LISTED AGE RANGE: 8-12 years
Boredom Buster is a book full of different activities for a span of different ages. There are also solo activities as well as group activities.
The book includes word games, memory games, board games, and much more.
LISTED AGE RANGE: 5-12 years
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If your kids are creators, they’ll love this Wikki Stix Lil’ Traveler Playset.
Wikki Stix are a little like pipe cleaners that you can bend into shapes and create whatever growing minds can imagine.
This playset is awesome because not only does it come with the Wikki Stix and board activities for the Stix, but it also comes with a tidy little carrying case — a must to keep your travel area neat and organized. (You know, in between all the juice boxes and food wrappers.)
There’s also the Wikki Stix Traveler Playset Craft Kit with its own travel case.
LISTED AGE RANGE: 3 and up
The “Mom, I’m Bored” Activity Book has different activities like puzzles, drawing, designing, and more — 22 different activities in all.
The great thing about this book is that it’s made of glossy, wipe-off cards with a dry eraser marker included. It can be used over and over again and shared between different kids.
LISTED AGE RANGE: 3 and up
Magnetic Board Games can be life savers. The pieces and board are magnetic, so they stick to each other even in the bumpiest conditions. This Magnetic Board Games Set comes with 12 board game choices like Checkers, Chess, Chinese checkers, Tic Tac Toe, Backgammon, Snakes & Ladders, Solitaire, NineMen’s Morris, Auto Racing, Ludo, Space Venure and Racing and might just be the ultimate in must-have magnetic travel board games!
LISTED AGE RANGE: 6 years and up
11. Travel Art Kit
If you spend money buying each kid a new thing for the road trip, make sure it’s an art kit like this Crayola Art Tools Kit that comes with markers, paper, and a storage case with a carrying handle. Plus, when you shut the case, it makes a nice little desk.
The best part is the versatility and that it can be be used for solitary, quiet creating time, or for group games like tic-tac-toe, hangman and more.
LISTED AGE RANGE: Preschool and up
12. Book Bag
If all else fails, put together a book bag tailored to each of the kids. Include some paper and crayons, but also some new (surprise) books for them to read.
Check out some of the popular books for different age levels:
The Wonderful Things You Will Be
13. Road Trip Playlist and (Seated) Dance Parties
Before you head out on your road trip with kids, don’t forget to make your road trip playlist!
This is something that you get the whole family involved in — just ask everyone to give you their top five or 10 favorite songs and make a road trip playlist. There will be something on there to appease everyone and (hopefully) it will prevent you from listening to 10 straight hours of that annoying preschool CD.
Then, when you’re in the car, have sing-offs or sitting dance parties to your road trip soundtrack. (These light-up gloves make seated dance parties a ton of fun!)
Road trip music is a great way to work off some of that energy from sitting so long! Add it to your fun road trip games and you’ll have a sanity saving (and fun) road trip!
Do you have a favorite road trip with kids sanity saver to make it a perfect road trip? Share it in the comments!
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