50 Road Trip Ideas for Kids!

This summer we are taking our 5-year-old and 3-year-old on a road trip up to Donnelly, Idaho, for a family reunion (never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I married my husband!). It is about a 9-hour drive from our home . . . our kids get pretty bored after about 90 minutes in the car, so I am a little nervous. I asked some of our Facebook readers to share some of their traveling secrets and the response was so awesome that I had to share some of the great ideas with you!

Our sister Kristen is actually traveling across the country today, moving her family from Missouri to Utah. They have made the long drive a couple of times before, so she is a Road Trip expert! She gave me a couple of ideas and activities to help keep kids busy. These ideas are for kids of all ages- some are obviously geared towards younger or older kids, so choose what works best for you and your traveling companions.
Also, if you have any road trip tips, I would love to hear them! Feel free to share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

1. Print off this cute state license plate check list and see who can cross them all off the fastest!
2. Buy some of these Window Markers and let the kids go to town on the back windows. Wipe them clean with a baby wipe.

3. Use an empty DVD case to pack a small pad of paper and colored pencils inside. The hard case also makes the perfect writing surface!
4. Give your kids glow sticks, glow necklaces, or glow bracelets when traveling at night (I found lots at the dollar store). They will love how they glow and it is like a personal night light.
5. Play the Lines and Dots game (you can print it off here, along with instructions on how to play if you don’t know).
6. To play the Lines and Dots game in #5, you will probably want a clipboard or hard surface for your kids to write on. Bring stickers and markers and let the kids decorate their own clipboard (I also found some clipboards at the dollar store).

7. Make these easy Pencil Pouch I-Spy bags before you leave.
8. Have a small child that is too small for an I-Spy bag? Give them a special “I-Spy Mission” You can print it off here!

9. There are websites that will allow you to type in your starting destination and ending destination and it will tell you all the interesting and fun places to stop on the way!  You might try google maps or mapquest.com for fun ideas.
10. Go to your local library and check out some audio books on CD. The kids love to follow along in the book and Mom doesn’t get car sick trying to read to the kids! A family favorite for my sister is Harry Potter.

11. Wrap a couple of small toys or trinkets from the Dollar Store. Wrap them in old wrapping paper and let the kids choose one every couple of hours. It’s great to use as incentive to keep your kids good in the car! :) Our mom used to do this when we were little and I still remember how excited I would get about unwrapping something!
12. At the check out at the store, purchase one of those candy-filled toys. They are kind of expensive (I never let my kids buy them), but for long trips, they are awesome! We have bought a candy-filled camera and when you push a button, a little candy pops out. We have also bought an electronic sucker spinner and a battery-operated fan that was filled with candy. These silly toys entertained the kids for at least 40 minutes! Definitely worth the dollar or two to buy them!
13. Here is a fun site with tons of printable Mad Libs for Kids. Sometimes we do these as a family and my kids love to choose the craziest words they can think of.
14. Make a Stained Glass Window Picture.
15. Put together a Craft Kit before you leave and let your kids’ imaginations go wild while you drive.

16. Buy a inexpensive cookie sheet and then make this Magnet Board on the Go! My kids love to play with magnets.
17. Using that same cookie sheet, you can use it as a hard surface for coloring (the edges keep the crayons from rolling away), playing Matchbox cars, Legos, or keeping other small items from falling on the floor. It’s like their own personal play surface.
18. Purchase some cheap magnetic letters and numbers from the dollar store and let the kids spell words on the cookie sheet. Also attach pom-poms to magnets for more fun magnet toys.
19. Bring some pipe cleaner and let them use it to bend it, make shapes with it, mold stick people with it, make jewelry, etc, etc.
20. Pack some little snack bags with Froot Loops cereal and let the kids string it on the pipe cleaner (it’s much easier than yarn). Doubles as a great snack!

21. Make this Homemade Gak before you leave.  It really takes only 2 minutes to throw together, doesn’t leave a mess behind, and provides lots of entertainment!
22. Print off this Travel Scavenger Hunt– here is one for preschoolers and one for older kids.
23. Make some fun file folder games and put them all together in a binder for easy traveling.
24. Find some toy catalogs or magazines. My kids LOVED looking through all the ads at Christmas time full of toys. Here is a fun one you can subscribe to for free.
25. Purchase some Fruit By The Foot snacks. I know that they aren’t healthy, but my kids love that they are so long and it takes them forever to eat it. Plus, it’s a special treat that they know they only get for special occasions.

26. Print off these cute paper dolls before you leave. If you wanted to, you could attach them to magnetic sheets and use them on your cookie sheet.
27. Purchase a new coloring book and crayons. Oh, the power of a new coloring book! :)
28. Bring a roll of aluminum foil and let the kids make animals, people, shapes, etc. Just don’t let them bunch it into balls and start a throwing fight. :)
29. Make a trip notebook. Give each child a new notebook and let them draw pictures, put in stickers, take notes, tape in tickets or other paraphernalia from your trip. Add pictures you took from your camera at the end of your trip for a fun keepsake.
30. Play Road Trip Bingo. Have little prizes for the winners.

31. Make your own Dry Erase Board using a cookie sheet and then bring along some dry erase markers and a rag to use as an eraser.
32. Using the Pandora App, listen to a kid or family-friendly channel with music your whole family will like. We love the Disney channel. Or find some fun kid-friendly CD’s that you will all enjoy.
33. Play the game 20 Questions as a family.
34. Make your own binder of activity pages. Fill a 3-ring binder with clear plastic sleeves. In the sleeves, put blank papers, and some simple games (hangman, tic-tac-toe, word searches, find the hidden pictures, and connect-the-dots). Use a 3-ring pencil bag to hold the dry erase markers and a rag to use as an eraser. The kids can doodle and play for hours, then wipe the sleeves clean.
35. Another special treat that my kids like are Ring Pops. They last forever and the kids love wearing them on their fingers.

36. Play Car Color Bingo– this bingo game is great for all ages!
37. Leave your house before the sun comes up (we are hoping to pull out at 5 am). My kids usually sleep until 8 am, so I am hoping that we will get at least a good hour or two of driving in before they wake up.
38. Give each child an inexpensive disposable camera (or maybe a kid-safe or old digital camera, if you have one) and let them document the vacation and road trip themselves.
39. Purchase some sticker books or activity books from the dollar store. My kids are obsessed with stickers- they love sticking them on their whole body. Give them some new stickers and let them go crazy! They may also want to put the stickers on a notebook or on paper.
40. Make some paper bag puppets and then put on a puppet show. This site has a TON of ideas for paper bag puppets.

41. Make your own Hedbanz game. We play this game at a lot of family parties and it would be a fun game for all ages to play in the car. You basically draw a card and without looking at it, put it on your “headband” (we have made headbands out of posterboard and then just tape the card on the front). You then have to ask other players questions about what is on your card (and they can only give yes or no answers) and try to guess what it is before time runs out. It’s kind of a fun twist on 20 questions.
42. Play Would You Rather. Here are some funny adult-based questions and here are some funny questions for kids. After asking my daughter a couple of these questions, she likes to invent her own questions and then gets the giggles so bad that we have to stop playing. :)
43. Make a Cootie Catcher! This one comes with fortunes and this one is blank so you can make your own.

44. Make Road Trip Behavior Clips. I love the idea of rewarding good behavior!
45. Check out these Travel Tickets and Reward Tickets! Give each child enough tickets in a small baggie (one ticket for every half hour of driving). Collect a travel ticket every 30 minutes and when the tickets are all gone, you have arrived! I also love the idea of the Reward Tickets and trading them in for books, playtime on the iPad, a new toy, a snack, etc.

46. This is a fun game for mom and dad to play in the front seat while the kids are busy in the back . . . it’s a Road Trip Questionnaire. Print it off and get to know each other even better than you thought you did! You could also ask your kids these questions.

47. Play this Road Trip Scavenger Hunt! This is one of the most creative ideas I have seen. Some of the items you look for are hilarious!

48. Give your child a new pack of markers and let them go to town on coloring this Intricate Coloring Page. I would have loved something like this when I was little!
49. Play Alphabet-athon and see who can get the most points. I have never even heard of this game (it’s kind of like Scattegories), but I know that we will be playing it (at least me and my husband will!).
50. Make a Travel Treat box to keep the mess and snacking to a minimum. Hopefully my kids will not eat all their food with the first hour! Ha ha!

Well, here’s hoping that your road trip (and mine!) is a complete success!
Happy Traveling!

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  1. says

    Love this! My kids are accustomed to long road trips. We’re a military family and drive from NY to TN two times a year – it’s a 16 hour drive with no stops. One of my biggest tips is to start driving at night (either after dinner or after bedtime) – we knock out as much as we can while the kids are sleeping. Of course, our drive is also super super long. We usually bring video games (Leapsters, Gameboys) and little sketchy pads. It keeps them occupied for a majority of the trip :)

  2. says

    When we traveled to New York from Nebraska to see the in-laws when our 5 kids were younger, we would give them each a roll of quarters. They were told that they could use that money for themselves on the trip, but every time they asked how much farther or when will we get there, etc. they had to give me a quarter. They all learned pretty fast how to keep their money. It was worth the $50.00.

  3. Jessica says

    I have just completely raided your ideas! We are travelling from Georgia to Colorado and back soon and I am hoping these great ideas will help make for a peaceful journey for the four children (and me!). Thanks so much for so many awesome ideas!

  4. Tori says

    You have some awesome ideas here! I wish I had seen this post before my 10 hour road trip this summer.. I have also found some good ideas on roadtripgames.net . Now we just have to figure out how to keep us parents busy!

  5. Keke says

    Great ideas and so many! I definitely plan to use some of these for an upcoming roadtrip I’m taking with my kids from St. Louis, MO to Atlanta, GA. I’m also going to post this on my blog’s social media pages (asocialtechdiva.com). Thanks again!

  6. courtney says

    Great ideas! Thank u! Do you happen to know of any websites that will provide the fun places and ideas between destinations? I checked the two you mentioned but no luck…feel free to email me back if you find the time! :) Thanks!

  7. Karen says

    A day at the beach with the kids is my idea of the perfect summer adventure. We have many beaches within a couple hours drive of our home, and we try to explore new ones each summer. It is so worth the drive!!
    Get a copy of my handy “FUN IN THE SUN BEACH DAY CHECKLIST” at
    Find out how EASY it can be to get your gang prepared for a memorable beach day adventure this summer!!

  8. Warren Andrews says

    Hungry kids and unhealthy food choices on the road can spell disaster. Avoid the headache and save some money by packing healthy snacks before you set out on your trip. If you’re planning to travel by air, pack a small cooler filled with snacks, but leave the beverages at home since you won’t be able to get them through security. For road trips, pack extra bottles of water and a larger cooler with sandwiches and snacks in an easy-to-access part of the car.

    Wholesale escapes

  9. Kelly says

    We’ve taken a 16 hour drive every year since my kids (now 8 and 5) were infants. We were always unprepared and it was very rough on them. We tried many of these on our most recent trip and they worked so well. First time we’ve had a mostly pleasant drive. Thanks!

  10. Mellie says

    Our kids are 7 and 4. Beware of markers. Dropped cap = sobbing, panicking child and a marker leaking ink onto your upholstery. The snack box idea is cute, but again, one slip and it’s a whole box of food on the floor of your car. I have done the chenille stem + froot loops idea, and that is surprisingly not messy. Tic tacs are awesome when they start getting bickery. Stop for picnics at parks in small towns. We hit one 5 minutes off the highway with an awesome playground… and then the ice cream truck showed up! Best pit stop ever! Tiny animals to play with are good – I got some in a little bucket we brought in to restaurants, too. My little one spent many hours peeling all the papers off her crayons. The back seat looked like confetti by Crayola, but she was content and it vacuumed right up. I have lap-sized plastic bins big enough to hold coloring books and act as a hard surface to eat or play on. They have easy-open latches. Plenty of snacks, water, and stop every 2-3 hours. Rest stops are good, usually there is some open space for running.

  11. Armywife01 says

    Love the ideas about the glow sticks and magnets with a cookie sheet—pure parenting Genius!
    We have made several cross country trips (27 hours one way), and several long trips (8-9 hours) with small children, middle-schoolers and dogs. We don’t like to rely completely on electronics, especially since one kid gets carsick (gingersnaps work for this—have yet to try it though). Here are the things we bring along: Jump-ropes (one per kid), Bubbles (the kind you buy for $1 at the store, again one container per kid), one deflated beach ball (use these first 3 items at the rest stops), and my all time favorite road trip toy tip: collect toys from fast food meals all year long and save them for road trips—if they get lost, it doesn’t matter since it was just a cheap fast food toy not an irreplaceable favorite stuffed animal or toy. Also, instead of crayons (which melt to the seat and the car door if not put away properly) or regular markers (a huge mess if your kid decides to color on the seats), use color wonder markers and a set of blank color wonder pages ($15 for markers & pages on average). The markers color ONLY on the color wonder paper. Also travel-size Etch a Sketch and Magna-doodle toys are great for road trips, no matter what the age of the kids. We allow them to pack one “activity” bag each, and we bring a few extras (the ones I mentioned above). Keeps the kids busy while engaging their imaginations!

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