10 Road Trip Ideas for Kids

It’s summertime which means…ROAD TRIPS!  I love road trips.  My hubby can’t always take time off work to go on our adventures with us but I never shy away from jumping in the van with just the girls and hitting the road.  We’ve taken trips to amusement parks, water parks, zoos, and museums in our home state of North Carolina, in Virginia, and in South Carolina.

10 Fun Things for Kids to do on a Road Trip

My kids are great to travel with and these tips and tricks help keep them occupied (and cut down on the complaining) on our long trips.

1.  Race car on the roof

Several years ago I happened upon this awesome idea for tracking your journey. I write the names of cities we will be driving through on a piece of masking tape.  This is stuck to the roof of the van.  Then I place a small piece of velcro on the underside of a cheap (it has to be cheap–the metal cars are too heavy) plastic car.   The girls move the car along the “road” as we pass each city.  It is a great visual for them of how much further we have to go.  They absolutely love this!  When it’s time to leave our destination, we just turn the car around for the ride back home.

2.  Classic Alphabet Game

If you haven’t played this before then you have missed out!  The game is simple…spot the letters of the alphabet in order on signs, license plates, billboards, etc.  The first person to get to Z wins.

3.  Tail Trail

Pick a subject (TV Shows, Movies, Foods, Etc).  The first person says the first thing in that category that comes to mind.  The next person has to say something in that category that starts with the last letter of whatever the first person said.  For example, if the category is movies it may go like this:

Madalyn:  Star Wars
Me:  Shawshank Redemption
Annagrace:  Nancy Drew

This is a great way to teach little ones letter sounds as well!  I’m always surprised that even my four year old can come up with things when given a letter sound.

4.  Basket O’ Fun.  

When we are preparing for a long road trip I will pick up some small toys and coloring books at the Target Dollar Spot to put in the kids’ fun baskets.  They each have their own plastic containers that I picked up for a couple dollars each at the thrift store.

5.  License Plate Game

We first did this a few years ago when we went on our annual beach vacation.  At that time, we had a seven hour drive through two states.  I printed off enough black and white pictures of the United States for everyone and we brought colored pencils along.  When we spotted a state we colored it in.  By the end of the week we even had my parents looking for license plates!  We got really excited when we found Alaska.  I was actually surprised that we only lacked about ten states by the end of vacation!

I recently found a pack of maps at the Target Dollar Spot made specifically for this purpose.  Always check the Target Dollar Spot!

6.  Travel Sized Games

Spot It! on the Road is a fun fast-paced game that encourages quick thinking and requires your child’s focused attention (i.e. it may help keep them quiet!).

Travel Battleship is a smaller, travel friendly version of the classic game.

Mad Libs are so much fun!  Playing this with my 8 year old brings back memories of recess as a child.  This is a great way to sneak in some “homeschooling” too.  I’m pretty sure I learned all the basic parts of speech through Mad Libs!

Would You Rather…? is a fun game of questions.  Would you rather always lose, or never play?  Would you rather be the most popular or the smartest person?  This is a fun way to get your older kids talking to you and some questions may even lead to some conversations about some ethical/moral dilemmas.

7.  Audio books

Long road trips are a great chance to catch up on some reading!  Audio books are a great way to keep kids entertained and quiet! If you’re old school, just pop in a CD and go!  If you’re more tech savvy then download a book to your phone and connect with your bluetooth to your car speakers.

Stop by Modern Mrs. Darcy for a very thorough list, 40 Favorite Audiobooks for Kids.

Here are some resources for free audio books:

8.  Offer Incentives (money!) for Good Behavior

My friend, Racheal, learned a great tip from her mother for keeping her kids on their best behavior while traveling.  Each child is given a roll of quarters at the start of the trip.  If they whine, argue, or complain they have to pay their mom a quarter.  Whatever money they keep they are allowed to spend on snacks or drinks during gas station stops during their trip.  Not only does this encourage good behavior but it also teaches money management and keeps kids from begging for something at each stop because they have their own money to spend.  She stated that it, “Works like a charm!”

9.  Draw with Window Markers

If you’re brave, give your little Picasso some window markers.  It will wash off with baby wipes and your kids will think you’re the coolest mom ever!

10.  Play Tablet Games

I always said I wouldn’t let my children play on tablets.  And then I got one and my four year old became obsessed with it.  I’m okay with it now for limited amounts of time.  I have a good mix of books, educational games, and just for fun games on my Kindle Fire.

Some of my daughters’ favorite apps are:

What are your favorite tips for keeping your kids busy on road trips?

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