Looking for car trip activities for kids?
The easiest, go-to activity for many families is a movie. Don’t get me wrong, there
When you say “road trip”, it can spark thoughts of adventure, spontaneity and exploration. When you say “family road trip”, it can spark thoughts of dread, backseat fighting and too frequent of stops.
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Try doing a trip unplugged
I’m amazed at the number of vehicles today that have built in screens and WiFi. Our children no longer know how to ride in a car for more than ten minutes without entertainment!
When did entertainment become standard in a vehicle? When did our kids forget how to ride in a car and be bored or make up their own fun and games?!
If you want to limit your child’s exposure to screen time, you can take a family road trip, without screens. It is possible.
Related post: How to Limit Screen Time for Kids
But I need my sanity…
I get it mama. Screens and technology in a car can give you your sanity back! They will take your fighting kids and turn them into silent little zombies. Sometimes, that’s what mama needs to get from point A to point B safely.
If working a movie into your drive works for you, by all means, embrace it! However, I have been on that six-hour road trip when we needed more than a movie to entertain the kiddos.
When kids are given too much screen time, they can become irritable or hyperactive. They sometimes mimic bad behavior seen on a show, or they stop using their imaginations. Use these ideas for (unplugged) car trip
Car Trip Activities for Kids
Entertainment is key for a long road trip. However, it doesn’t have to be the main event. Your kids can be bored. They can look out their windows at the landscape around them. Your kids can watch the mile markers pass, see the local attractions, and better understand road rules.
Yet, when boredom sets in, and when you need some ideas, here are my favorites:
We like to check out books on CD from the library or “rent” one from Cracker Barrel if on a long interstate trip. You can usually rent one for about $5 from Cracker Barrel. You “pay” the full price for the audio book, and then, after turning it back in, they give you most of the money back minus the small rental fee.
Print out some car BINGO cards and let your kids go to town. You can even make your own cards. It keeps kids engaged and looking out the window rather than at a screen.
For kids who cannot read, you can still play this game using photos instead of words.
The ABC Game
I think my family totally made up this game, but I remember it being so much fun!
It is an activity for kids who can read, but I remember playing it in elementary school and onward.
How to play: Everyone looks for the letter “A” to start. When you see it, you shout “A” and then where you see that letter.
No one else can use what you found for your letter. You then progress to the next letter in the alphabet. The first person to get to “Z” wins.
This game would keep us entertained for hours, and we were quick to call out the person fibbing about the letters they claimed to see!
My husband and I had a travel Scrabble game we used prior to kids when traveling in the airports.
There are travel games for all age levels. Many of the games have pieces that stick to the game board by tension or with magnets.
Action figures or dolls
My girls love to play with their Barbie Dolls in the car. I can pack four of them, two for each child, and they will make up their own pretend scenarios for their dolls. It is hilarious to hear what they come up with in the back seat when they don’t realize anyone is listening.
My youngest also likes to play with dinosaur figures in the car. They are entertaining and handle dirt really well if they fall out of the car at any point on the trip.
Etch-a-Sketch or Magnetic Drawing Board
A classic, portable, entertainment activity. You can buy an Etch-a-Sketch in a variety of sizes.
I also love the magnetic drawing boards. They are easier to work for younger children.
OK, you need the Simon with the silence button, but if you have it, this can be a fun game in the car, and siblings can compete against each other.
My kids have our old
Get your kids used to the healthy habit of journaling or writing. Pack them a notepad and zipper pouch of fun pens.
Ask your kids to write you a story. For younger kids, they can draw pictures. I especially like the notebooks with practice writing lines and a space for a picture at the time for younger kids.
Have your kids track the places they have been, stopped at along the way, and their favorite memories of a long road trip.
As a child, I was obsessed with reading a map when we traveled. Find an old road atlas and give your child a highlighter. At every stop or turn, let them highlight what you have traveled so far. They will learn map skills, which is becoming a lost art with the use of GPS.
Turn a cheap cookie sheet from the dollar store into an instant lap desk for your little one in the car. You can use magnets on it, or let it act as a lap desk for coloring, etc.
Pipe cleaners make great sculpting materials when in the car. Throw a bunch of pipe cleaners into a Ziplock bag and see what they can create.
Books are an iffy type item to bring on a long car trip as an activity for your kids.
I have one kid that doesn’t get car sick, and one kid that loves to read, but she will ultimately want to hurl. Play this one by ear, or limit the time a child reads while riding in the car.
If traveling at night, grab a pack of glow sticks, glow necklaces or glow bracelets. It will keep little ones entertained in the car until it is time to fall asleep.
Our favorite car trip organizing trick
If you are looking for my favorite way to carry car trip activities in the car, I highly recommend you check out this amazing bag called the MollieOllie Caddie. It has a sturdy box design and tons of pockets along the outside. It also has a removable divider to make three compartments on the inside of the bag.
We LOVE this bag. Since we live in a rural area, our car trip rides are often in excess of one hour if we have to go to town. The MollieOllie Caddie has become known as the “fun bag” in our house.
All I do is tell the kids to pack the “fun bag”, and they will fill it up with all their favorites for the long car ride. It holds just enough stuff to not be annoying and cluttered in the car but able to keep them busy for hours.
Our go-to packing list is usually a few paperback books, four Barbie dolls (two for each kid), and whatever random toy or activity they want to fill the third compartment. It is the perfect carrying bag for our favorite car trip activities.
Car trip activities unplugged
Car trip activities for kids doesn’t have to include the most modern technology and hours of staring at a screen. In fact, kids can have fun and watch the hours pass by while using their imagination and creativity.
Go pack your “fun bags” and get ready for an amazing family road trip!