10+ Activities to Keep Kids Busy During Long Car Trips

If you have kids, especially young ones, roadtrips can be a harrowing experience. Kids can be entertained for only so long with electronics, eventually even those get boring or need to be charged. For those of us without dvd players in our vehicles, it is going to be an even longer trip.

Here are some great tips, games and activities to get you through the long hours until you’ve reached your destination. 


1. Snacks and treats will go a long way. Whenever my kids and I are on a road trip, I splurge on treats. I buy them foods that I wouldn’t normally buy to offer them from time to time. I, always pack plenty of fresh fruit, bottled water and sugar-free gum but when we are going somewhere special, I give them a bit of a break from the rules. Candy, chips, and other (low-mess) foods for the car can be brought out at times when the kids are getting restless. As a young child, I only got Crunch-N-Munch when we were on long trips to Florida. To this day, a road trip means Crunch-N-Munch.

2. Invest in a car charger for that handheld video game. Even the strictest of parents, can take a break from the electronic rules for a car ride. A long trip is a bit shorter when there are electronics involved but running out of battery power because someone didn’t charge their video game can be the cause of a tantrum you don’t want. For a few dollars, you can charge that DS, Kindle or iPad in the car and save everyone a lot of tears (Including your own!).

3. Borrow audio books from the library or you can sign up for an account at Audible.com. Kids love listening to books. It has always surprised me by how much they will quiet down to listen to someone reading to them.

4. Plan to make stops along the way. Are there any interesting sites to see while you are en route to your destination? The largest ball of twine, perhaps? On our trips to Florida we travel through Alabama, we always stop at the welcome center rest stop to see the rocket that is docked there. We stopped no matter the time of night that we arrived there and you can bet the next time I travel that way, I’ll be stopping there with my kids. Take the time to find something quirky to visit along your path, an hour out of your way might be worth the energy your kids will exert while out of the car for a bit.

5. A friend of mine shared with me a tool she used in the car for trips. She gave each of her kids
Clipboards with storage compartment to hold coloring pages, pens, pencils and markers. The clipboard helps keep the pages from blowing if you have a window open (use a large rubber band around the bottom portion to keep that part of the paper from blowing too). Or you could invest in a lap tray to use in the car. These lap trays were a lifesaver where my children were younger. It was great for eating, coloring and playing while riding in the car. I sometimes wish I had something for them to use now as bigger kids.


Electronics, snacks and the view can get you a part of the way through your trip. Having an arsenal of fun games to play with your kids will help your trip go faster and be fun for the whole family.

1. Travel games can be purchased at the store for many of the games kids already enjoy like Connect 4, Hungry, Hungry, Hippo, Battleship and more. You can also purchase travel bingo game in the gift shop of Cracker Barrel or online. Or create your own bingo board at home and print it off before you hit the road.

2. Rainbow cars is a game that I created one day while driving down the road with two young boys who were bickering in the back seat. We together as a group tried to find a vehicle of every color of the rainbow (in order). It’s not as easy as you’d think; sometimes, finding a purple car takes hours. Sometimes, you are lucky to hit a construction zone and get yellow and orange right away. This game can be played as a competition to see who completes their rainbow first. Prior to leaving, you could print off a black and white rainbow and have the kids color each color in as they find them.

3. Play the ABC game. There are so many different ways you can play this game. Find all the letters of the alphabet within the license plates that you see. Or find objects that start with each letter of the alphabet. You could look for the letters in the signs that you see along the way or on decals on trucks. There are many adaptations to this game, make it up as you go.

4. Playing “I Spy” is something every child should already know how to do. This is easier played when you aren’t moving very fast but it can be adapted to saying “I spy something that is the color red” and the children then shout out everything they see that is the color red in the area.

5. The Quiet Game has gone digital. Download this app from iTunes and use it to challenge your kids to stay quiet for as long as possible. Use it in conjunction with a prize or just because. My children played it four times in a row just to hear the fireworks go off each time (they only won twice). It won’t work for the whole road trip but it’s another fun trick to have in your bag should you need it. 


1. Busy Bags can be created for each child and specialized to the likes of each child. Fill them with small toys that are individually wrapped, books they will enjoy, cute pads of paper and special pens or pencils, stickers, Mad Libs, comic books or sudoku puzzles, or anything that will keep your child busy when need be. Save the bags for the middle of the trip after other activities have begun to fail.

2. Make a trip to library to gather books for your trip. Borrow a collection of travel books for the states along your trip. Look for multiple books on your destination to discuss activities and sites you may be experiencing during your stay. While you are in the library, grab a book with silly jokes that you can tell each other too.

3. Create a Scrapbook of your trip. Throughout the trip, pass it around and add to it, include room for pictures, brochures you picked up, pictures drawn by the kids, anecdotes that you found funny and all the fun you’ve had together as a family. Start it while you are on the road, some of your best memories can happen there.

Vacations are a time to have fun together as a family and create lots of lifelong memories. No one wants to remember a road trip full of stress, bickering and anguish. Your trip will be off on the right step with this list of great tips, activities and games!