Going on a road trip with kids? We have 15 BEST creative road trip hacks that every family needs to save their sanity on long driving trips, travel and even camping trips! The only list of best activities, ideas and resources for car trips with kids that you’ll ever need!
“We’re planning a three week road trip with kids,” my friend said to me.
There was complete fear in her eyes because they just planned the ultimate family road trip.
“THREE KIDS. DRIVING. FOR HOURS. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.” she reiterated.
I get it.
No matter how much you love your family and how much fun you have together, there’s something about being stuck in the car for hours with each other that can make you lose your mind.
But, what if I told you that a long road trip with kids doesn’t have to be … scary?
When planning a road trip with kids (and your road trip with kids packing list), use some of these best travel hacks to help keep parents sane and kids happy:
How do I entertain my child on a long car ride?
Road Trips with Kids Hacks
How do you survive a road trip with kids?
- Play the license plate game
- Listen to audiobooks
- Have a sing-a-long
- Play I Spy
- Take turns reading aloud (from a fun chapter book)
- Play 21 questions
- Play the alphabet game category game—one person names something from A, another person names something from B from the same category
- Do some Mad Libs
- Tell family stories that were passed down from parents and grandparents
- Play the “I’m going on a picnic” game where each person names what they are taking on a picnic that starts with a letter of the alphabet
- Play HOT SEAT where each person asks someone five questions that they must answer
- Name the states and capitals
- Play the Cow game (see below)
- Challenge each other (not the driver!) on DrawAndGuess.com
- Ask “Would You Rather?” and give weird options
- Play the Quiet Game!
(Don’t miss the our 15 SPECIFIC, amazing, creative road trip with kids recommendations later in the post. Those are also things that helped save my sanity on vacations! KEEP SCROLLING!)
So, back to the conversation I had with my friend on her ultimate family road trip:
“How do you survive a road trip with kids?” she looked at me with crazy eyes.
Let’s be honest . . .
Traveling with kids can be super fun, but we’ve probably all been on a road trip with kids where we’ve hit our max of being in the car together.
I’ve been there.
(I see you nodding, too. . .)
So, what advice did I give to my friend on road tripping with kids?
I mean, what are good strategies for stress-free travel with children?
What are some fun ideas for long road trips?
Here’s what I said . . .
Road Trip Tip: Make Busy Bags
“Make each kid a busy bag as one of your things to take on a road trip with kids,” I shrugged.
It’s something I learned a while back when we did a cross country road trip with kids.
I made a tote bag tailored to each of their interests and I hid them in the car until we all hit the breaking point.
The bags included some old things/toys they had at home, some of their favorite things, and some new items.
Then, I whipped those road trip activities out and saved all of our sanity . . .
. . . at jussssssst the right moment.
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 and that hope of amazing family travel with your kids will seem hopeless.
Sorry for the truth bomb.
(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 with some family road trip packing essentials like road trip games for kids, books, and MORE.
But, who needs to figure all of that out along with planning the trip and packing and finding Fido a babysitter?
That’s why you have me, because:
I’ve compiled a great list of road trip with kids activities — from toddler to 10 year olds to tweens and teens and beyond.
Check out these fun ideas for long road trips . . .
. . . and just consider this list one less thing you have to figure out when wondering what to take on a road trip.
We’ve got you covered on what to bring on a road trip with kids!
(You can thank me later. You know, after the world’s longest road trip with kids or the long road trips with toddlers is over.)
READ ON FOR GREAT TRAVEL TIPS!
But, before we get to the best travel hacks, there are two areas I want to cover that people ask about . . .
What should kids bring on a road trip?
If your kids are old enough, you want to give them a say-so in what they bring on the vacation (within reason, of course).
Allow each kid to bring road trip items like:
- Favorite stuffed animal or comfort item
- Tablet / phone (don’t forget headphones!)
- One book, magazine or puzzle book
- Drawing pad or coloring books and crayons/pencils
- A small zip bag of snacks of their choice
- Travel water bottle (filled!) (We like this collapsible travel water bottle that saves space when not in use!)
Also . . .
How do toddlers survive a long car ride?
If you have toddlers, long car trips may be a little more difficult.
Here are hacks for car travel with toddlers:
- Sit next to the toddler (or put an older child next to the toddler) so you can easily help without stopping the car
- Use a pull-down window shade to block the sun
- Drive at night while they’re sleeping or plan stops before their nap time (so you can keep driving while they nap)
- Take their favorite blankie or stuffed animal
- Bring one or two new toys that the toddler has never seen
- Use a toddler busy board
- Plan extra time and prepare to make frequent stops
- Load your tablet with toddler friendly movies
- Don’t forget favorite snacks!
DISCLOSURE: Affiliate links are used on this site and may be used in this post.
Please refer to our DISCLOSURE STATEMENT.
HOW TO ROAD TRIP WITH KIDS (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND)
15 Things To Do on a Long Road Trip with Kids
Many of these road trip suggestions are fun road trip activities for adults, too! (Which, let’s face it, is super important. Nothing like being stuck for hours in a car with super boring games you have to play with your kids!)
I think you’ll enjoy these helpful tips for parents taking a road trip with kids (including the car games to play with the entire family and driving games for road trips)!
So, when thinking about what to pack for a road trip with kids, here are some ideas…
Road Trip with Kids Idea #1: Rubberneckers: Everyone’s Favorite Travel Game
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 still one of the most fun driving games we’ve ever played.
It’s part scavenger hunt/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)
Road Trip with Kids Idea #2: 50 Road Trip Games
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
Road Trip with Kids Idea #3: License Plate Travel Sticker Book
(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 (or hits milestones like first to 10, 25, etc.) 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
Road Trip with Kids Idea #4: Travel Bingo Game
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 bingo 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
Road Trip with Kids Idea #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).
For the younger kids, 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
Road Trip with Kids Idea #6: Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas
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
Road Trip with Kids Idea #7: Boredom Buster Book
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
- & much more!
LISTED AGE RANGE: 5-12 years
Road Trip with Kids Idea #8: Wikki Stix Lil’ Traveler Playset
If your kids are creators (and love things like Lego Bricks), they’ll love this Wikki Stix Lil’ Traveler Playset.
Do you know about them?
They are the coolest thing ever!
Wikki Stix are a little like pipe cleaners that you can bend into shapes and create whatever growing minds can imagine.
And, your little ones can practice letters and numbers just by shaping the Wikki Stix onto the page (instead of tracing them).
(They’re GREAT for those oh-s0-important fine motor skills!)
This specific 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
Road Trip with Kids Idea #9: “Mom, I’m Bored” Activity Book
OK, I’ve talked before about how beneficial boredom can be for your kids.
HOWEVER . . .
Being with bored kids WHILE ALSO STUCK IN THE CAR FOR HOURS is not a good thing . . . for anyone.
This 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 erase marker included.
It can be used over and over again and shared between different kids.
TRAVEL HACK: Before the trip, tape yarn or twine to one end of the dry erase marker and then tie the other end of the yarn/twine to the coils on the book so that the marker is attached. This will prevent the “I DROPPED MY MARKER!” every 5 minute claims.
LISTED AGE RANGE: 3 and up
Road Trip with Kids Idea #10: Magnetic Board Games
Magnetic Board Games can be life savers and are a great addition to your travel tools.
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:
- Chinese checkers
- Tic Tac Toe
- Snakes & Ladders
- NineMen’s Morris
- Auto Racing
- Space Venture
It might just be the ultimate in must-have magnetic travel board games!
LISTED AGE RANGE: 6 years and up
Road Trip with Kids Idea #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 at the hotel or camp ground once you arrive.
Great for a range of ages!
LISTED AGE RANGE: Preschool and up
Road Trip with Kids Idea #12: Book Bag
Don’t forget to 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 these favorite fun books for different age levels:
Road Trip with Kids Idea #13: Cow Counting Game
OK. This may seem weird but this is one of our ALL TIME favorite car games that doesn’t need anything else but looking out the window.
And, bonus that all ages can play!
If you are taking some back, country roads, this is the perfect game.
Here’s how you play:
- Teams are divided by the side of the car they are on (the people on the same side as the driver are on one team and the people on the same side as the passenger seat are on the other team).
- If you pass a cow farm on your team’s side of the car, you count as many cows as you can before you get completely past the farm.
- Each time a team passes a cows (on their side of the car), they add the number of cows to their total.
- But—here’s the kicker—if you pass a CEMETERY on your side of the car, your team loses all their cows and you have to start over.
It may sound silly, but this is really one of the best games that has us squealing and laughing and competing while we are traveling. (And, you don’t need any “extra” things . . . just your eyes!)
Road Trip with Kids Idea #14: Time for Tech
Honestly, I don’t happen to think that a road trip or travel time is the time you want to limit technology for your kids.
Remember, the goal is to get you to your destination with everyone alive and no one being too crabby and with all limbs intact.
One of the best ways to do this is to allow your kids time on their tech devices.
We love the Kindle Fire with a kid-proof case !
(And, don’t forget the headphones!)
Tech-Free Travel: Road-Trip Games for Preschool
The toddler and preschoolers are sometimes super hard to entertain while traveling on long road trips and you might need tech-free travel tips for them while the older kids play on their tablets.
I love this SIMPLE, DIY preschool game idea for this age range and it’s an easy, take-along travel car game for littles.
Road Trip with Kids Idea #15: 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 (or Baby Shark. You’re welcome.).
Then, when you’re in the car, have sing-offs or sitting dance parties to your road trip soundtrack.
Your own car ride fun kids’ sing-along!
TRAVEL TIP: These light-up gloves make seated dance parties a ton of fun! We have them and we’ve had SO MUCH fun with them from road trips to nights when the electricity has gone out to sleepover parties!
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 like the license plate game and road trip bingo and you’ll have a sanity saving (and fun) road trip.
ONE LAST NOTE: Don’t forget about podcasts and audiobooks. There are plenty of great family and kid-friendly (FREE) podcasts and audiobooks that everyone will love.