The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Entertained on Road Trips

Going on a road trip with your family can be a wonderful bonding experience. However, keeping kids entertained on family road trips can be quite challenging. Parents often struggle to come up with engaging activities to prevent boredom and restlessness among their young passengers.

Today we’re exploring some creative tips and ideas on how to keep kids entertained during road trips.

We’ll discuss various activities suitable for different age groups that cater to individual interests and can be enjoyed solo or as a group.

By incorporating a mix of quiet and engaging activities, as well as providing opportunities for rest and relaxation throughout the journey, parents can ensure that their children remain engaged and happy during the trip.

This not only creates a more enjoyable experience for everyone in the car but also helps build lasting memories for the entire family.

When my five kids were young, we made multiple trips across the states from California to Georgia and Kentucky. The experience taught me a lot about patience!

Those trips were memorable and we often found national parks or state parks or other historical locations along the way to enjoy. As the kids got older we continued out tradition of traveling all over the states from Florida to Canada.

Things to Keep in Mind When Planning Your Road Trip with Kids

When planning a road trip with kids, it’s crucial to consider your family’s needs, preferences, and the age of your children. Picking a suitable destination is just as important as preparing age-appropriate activities to keep them entertained during the journey.

Whether you’re traveling to see grandma or looking to visit Disney World for the first time, make your road trip one for the books!

During the trip, don’t forget to plan regular stops along the way. This allows kids to stretch their legs, run off some energy, and have a break from sitting in the car.

Incorporating scenic destinations or family-friendly attractions into your pitstops can make these breaks even more enjoyable. Consider traveling at quieter times, such as during the night, to avoid traffic and make the journey more peaceful.

When my kids were little we often left in the middle of the night so the kids would sleep the first few hours of the journey.

If your children require nap times or specific meal breaks, keep their needs in my while organizing your trip.

Keep in mind that flexibility is key! Be prepared to adjust your plans as needed and remain patient and you’ll set your family up for a fun, memorable, and stress-free road trip experience.

Gathering Snacks and Toys

Preparing for a road trip with children can be both exciting and challenging. One important aspect to consider is gathering snacks and toys that will keep your little ones entertained throughout the journey.

Providing a variety of options ensures that boredom is kept at bay and makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

When selecting snacks, consider offering healthy options that are easy to eat in a moving vehicle. Choices like homemade trail mix or build-your-own sandwiches can be both nutritious and interactive, allowing children to create their own unique combinations.

To avoid messes, pack snacks in individual containers and make sure to keep napkins and wipes on hand. Of course, keep in mind safety when planning snacks and avoid foods that might present a choking hazard like hard candies and popcorn.

In addition to snacks, it’s crucial to bring along engaging toys and activities tailored to your children’s interests. Allowing them to pick out their favorite books and toys ensures they stay engaged.

It’s so easy for kids to get bored on long road trips so this can really make or break your experience! Keeping a travel Guess Who game handy is an excellent way for the whole family to enjoy some quality time together.

For longer trips, consider giving your child something to pass the time like puzzles, coloring books, or even educational electronic devices, such as an Amazon Fire 7 tablet for kids. These tools not only keep children entertained but also encourage learning and creativity.

I’m a big believer in limiting screen time and I would encourage you to get creative with your road trip activities to keep your kids happy and entertained!

Games and Activities

Travel Journals and Journaling Prompts

Encourage your children to document their road trip experiences with travel journals. Provide them with notebooks and writing utensils, along with a list of journaling prompts to inspire their creativity. Some ideas might include: favorite places visited, new foods they tried, and interesting people they met along the way.

Here are some fun travel journals for kids:

Classic Car Games

Keep kids entertained on the road with a variety of classic car games. These easy-to-play games often require little or no equipment and can engage the whole family. Some popular ones include:

  • I Spy: Players take turns spotting objects, saying “I spy with my little eye,” followed by a clue for others to guess.
  • Alphabet Game: Participants search for letters of the alphabet sequentially on road signs, license plates, or billboards.
  • License Plate Game: Have the kids look out for license plates from different states, trying to find as many as possible. We have loved this wooden license plate game for years!
  • Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of items for children to find as they travel, such as a specific vehicle type or a type of billboard. You can print out my road trip scavenger hunt games here and another one here.

Creative Games

Let your kids’ imaginations run wild with creative games during the road trip. Ideas include:

  • 20 Questions: One person thinks of an object, and others ask up to 20 yes-or-no questions to figure out what it is.
  • Road Trip Bingo: Prepare bingo cards with pictures or descriptions of items commonly seen on road trips. Players can then mark off the items as they spot them, aiming for a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line to win.

Screen-Free Activities

In addition to games, encouraging screen-free activities can help keep children entertained and avoid boredom during long car rides. Some suggestions are:

  • Coloring Books: Provide a variety of coloring books for different age groups and skill levels, along with colored pencils or markers.
  • Small Travel Toys: Bring compact toys, such as building blocks or puzzles, that can engage kids without taking up much space.
  • Audiobooks: Select family-friendly audiobooks to listen to together or provide individual ones that cater to each child’s taste.
  • Storytelling: Allow each child to create a story using the car’s surroundings as inspiration, taking turns narrating and engaging the whole family.

Engaging Entertainment

Keeping kids entertained on road trips can make the journey more enjoyable for the whole family. One way to achieve this is through engaging entertainment options.

Audiobooks and Podcasts

Audiobooks can be an excellent form of entertainment for children, as they captivate their attention with interesting stories and help develop their listening skills. Many popular children’s books are available in audiobook format, including classics and contemporary works.

Alternatively, family-friendly podcasts can keep kids entertained while also being educational. Browse through a variety of genres and topics to find ones that your children will enjoy.

Another idea is to provide headphones for each child to create a personalized listening experience.

Music and Playlists

Music is another great way to keep kids entertained during road trips. Before embarking on your journey, create playlists tailored to your children’s preferences and interests.

Encourage them to get involved in the process by selecting their favorite songs or suggesting new ones. You can either choose to play music through the car’s audio system or provide tablets and headphones for individual listening experiences.

Although in our family, we always had so much fun listening to great music from the past and super silly songs that everyone loved.

Creative Play

Coloring and Activity Books

One of the best ways to keep kids entertained during a road trip is by providing them with coloring and activity books. These can include crayons, colored pencils, markers, and a variety of drawing tools, allowing children to express their creativity.

Activity books can feature fun puzzles such as crosswords, word searches, and mazes, encouraging problem-solving and cognitive development.

Sticker Books

Sticker books are another engaging option for children on road trips. Kids can create various scenes and scenarios using different stickers, enhancing their creativity and imagination.

Here are a few fun sticker book options:

Storytelling and Imagination

Encouraging creative storytelling and imagination play a significant role in keeping kids entertained during long car rides. Encourage children to create their own stories or build on existing ones, using their favorite characters and settings.

You can also play imaginative games with your kids such as “I Spy” or “Would You Rather” to maintain an interactive environment.

Break Time and Boredom Busters

Stretch and Rest Stops

Long drives can be exhausting for everyone, especially kids. To keep them occupied and refreshed, schedule regular rest stops for stretching and taking breaks. If you’re traveling along the interstate system, rest stops can be great places to let your kids stretch their legs, stop for picnics, and get refreshed.

When my kids were little, even if I didn’t pack food for the trip, we’d often grab takeout and stop at a local park or rest area and eat at the picnic tables. It gave the kids a chance to get out of the car and run around.

Encourage your children to participate in simple exercises and stretches during these breaks. This will not only help them break the monotony of sitting in a car but also keep them active and healthy.

Parks and Outdoor Spaces

When planning your road trip, try to include local parks and outdoor spaces along the route for short breaks. These locations offer an opportunity for kids to run, play and explore, which can help alleviate the boredom of a long car ride.

Pack a frisbee, football, or any other outdoor game gear to engage them in fun activities. This will aid in burning off some energy, making them more relaxed when you get back on the road.

Jokes and Would You Rather Games

Keeping your kids entertained doesn’t always require physical activities or electronic devices like a tablet. Engage them in simple yet amusing games like “Would You Rather” or have them share and learn new jokes.

These boredom busters can initiate interesting conversations and encourage creativity among your little ones, making your family road trip activities fun and engaging. Remember to keep the jokes and questions age-appropriate and inclusive, ensuring everyone in the car can participate.

Adapting to Age Groups

When planning road trips with kids, it’s essential to adapt activities to suit different age groups. In this section, we will discuss age-appropriate tips for keeping toddlers and young children entertained, as well as teens and older kids.

Toddlers and Young Children

Toddlers and young children have shorter attention spans and may require more frequent changes in activities. Here are a few ideas to keep them engaged:

  • Activity Bag: Prepare a special bag filled with age-appropriate activities, such as coloring books, crayons, puzzles, and small toys. Rotating these items will keep young children entertained for longer periods.
  • License Plate Game: Teach kids about different states in America by encouraging them to search for license plates from all 50 states and checking them off a list.
  • Backseat Games: Simple backseat games, like “I Spy” and road trip Bingo, can keep children engaged while helping them develop observation skills.

Teens and Older Kids

Keeping teens and older kids entertained on road trips can be a bit more challenging, as they may prefer to use their phones or other digital devices. However, here are some suggestions that can also engage them:

  • Travel-sized Board Games: Provide small, portable board games, like “Guess Who” or magnetic chess, which can be enjoyed by the whole family in the backseat.
  • Scavenger Hunt Across America: Create a list of items or landmarks commonly found in different states and ask your teens to look for them along the journey. This activity will allow them to learn more about America’s diverse geography and culture.
  • License Plates Trivia: For older children who enjoy learning about America’s regions, make the license plate game more challenging by adding trivia questions related to the states found on the plates.

By adapting activities to age groups and providing a variety of options, you can keep kids of all ages entertained during long car rides.


Keeping kids entertained on road trips can be a challenge, but with some creativity and planning, parents can ensure an enjoyable experience for the whole family. Incorporating a variety of games, such as the License plate game or Scavenger hunt, can provide hours of fun while also engaging children with their surroundings.

Technology can also play a role in helping maintain a peaceful journey, as devices such as Amazon Fire 7 tablets for kids offer a variety of educational and entertainment options. If screen time is a concern, consider introducing alternatives like audiobooks or podcasts to captivate children’s imagination without requiring their eyes to be glued to a screen.

Parents should also consider incorporating stops at educational destinations along the way, turning the road trip into a memorable learning experience. This can ensure children remain engaged and excited throughout the journey.

Incorporating a blend of these activities and approaches will not only prevent boredom but also create a more enriching experience for the whole family.

Remember, every family is unique, so it is essential to experiment with different ideas and see what works best for each specific situation. With thoughtful preparation, road trips can become treasured memories in children’s lives!

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