road trip activities kids happy in the car

If you’re headed out on a fun road trip this summer with kids, you are going to need some road trip activities to keep them busy! We take road trips often, so I know a thing or two about what to bring for long car rides with kids.

From the time our kids were little, we quickly learned which road trip activities for toddlers would keep them busy. And now that our oldest is almost a teen and our younger two are getting older, we have discovered a variety of road tripping activities for a range of ages!

Often, our road trips with kids have been throughout New England for ski trips to Vermont or New Hampshire. And last year, it was a three-week road trip through four National Parks in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. We’ve also taken some road trips visiting some of the best national parks on the East Coast.

It was one of the best road trips in the USA many times over. But, it was long. That one really required a lot of road trip ideas for kids!

We recently took a two-and-a-half-day road trip from New England to Florida, so our list of road trip essentials for kids had to be foolproof! If you are looking for the best ideas for road trip games and activities for kids, this list will have you covered from toddlers to teens!

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Photo credit: iStock by Getty via PicMonkey

35+ Awesome Road Trip Activities For Kids: Toddlers to Teens

Our road trip packing list has always included road trip games and activities. But it is true that these activities really vary depending on whether you are traveling with toddlers, school-aged kids, or teens.

So, I have segmented this list to include road activities and games for kids, toddlers, and teens. Some of these things to do on a long road trip in the car with kids may be interchangeable. But organizing the list this way will help you find something each passenger will love!

Road Trip Activities For Kids

Magnetic Road Trip Games

Let’s be honest. Nothing is more irritating to kids or parents when travel game pieces fall on the ground when traveling by car. Enter Magnetic Road Trip Games to keep kids amused with game pieces that stay in place with magnets. This pack offers a variety of options, making it a multiple-use purchase and offering several road trip games kids will love!

Mad Libs

Kids love Mad Libs, and playing them in the car is a road trip activity in which everyone can participate. It’s one of our favorite things to do on a long rides with kids because it helps pass the time. By filling out a few of these silly stories, everyone can have fun and have a laugh!

Portable DVD Player

Yes, I went there. While I prefer to avoid screen time for my kids, too, let’s face it. Sometimes, you need quiet in the car. And for long road trips with kids or toddlers, sometimes a good Disney movie or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode in your Portable DVD player does the trick.

And movies can also be great road trip activities for teens as well!

BVWK Tip
BVWK Tip: Mom to mom, be sure and pack car sick bags. My son used to get car sick on occasion from watching the DVD player, so one of my top road trip tips is to pack for the “unexpected” motion sickness.

Audiobooks

My antidote to car sickness from motion sickness from watching the DVD player is Audiobooks.! I have also found it to be one of the best things to do on a trip with toddlers and teens love too! Let the kids pick some of their favorite audiobooks that they can listen to with headphones.

Be sure to download a few of your kids’ favorites before the trip and test them so they are ready to go in the car (and remember to charge your electronics!) You can also choose an audio book the adults and the kids enjoy to pass the time together.

Wiki Sticks

Kids who enjoy crafts and creative things will love Wiki Sticks. These portable kits make a great activity. And, because they are sticky, they are one of those things that won’t easily fall and cause frustration.

Road Trip Activity Pack Printable

I recently created my own product that makes a great road trip activity for kids! My road trip activity pack is a 45-page color printable you can instantly download and staple, have bound, put in a binder, make reusable with plastic, sheets, or put in a clipboard.

It includes word searches, road trip bingo printables, crosswords, a travel journal, road trip games for kids to play in the car, and much more. My kids just used theirs during our two-and-a-half-day drive to Florida, and it kept all three – even my almost teen – very busy for hours. Road trip bingo is fun for multiple kids to play.

My kids are loving their road trip activity pack!

BVWK Tip
We bring a clipboard for our kids to store their activity sheets, pencils, and some extra drawing paper for the road!

License Plate Game

If you are traveling in the USA, this license plate game is a fun one to keep kids busy. You could easily make a license plate game printable at home for the kids to record the different states and license plates they see. This version license plate game is a great thing to do on long rides in the car with kids!

There’s another version too where you write down or memorize the letters from the first license plate you see and then create as many words as you can from the letters in that plate.

Word Games

Another fun game for family road trips is word games. These can also engage the whole family.

Our favorites include the “alphabet game,” like spotting things outside the car that begin with letters of the alphabet. Each player takes a turn in order of the alphabet, and their turn ends once they find something that begins with that letter (or whoever spots it first can shout it.) Then the next player goes. The alphabet game is a fun classic game that can keep the everyone amused.

We also love to play the “Would You Rather” game and ask questions like “Would you rather hike in the mountains or sit on the beach?”

My road trip activity pack also includes a sheet to write down your “alphabet game” answers.

Guessing Games

If you need a little prompting for fun games for kids in the car, we love the Guess in 10 games. These games give a little help with ideas for coming up with ideas for guessing.

You can also play 20 questions where the first person starts with something in mind and gives everyone a hint like “I’m a famous woman or famous person” or “I’m thinking of a book.” Then you each ask yes or no questions to guess what the person is thinking of.

The game is over when someone guesses the item or you finish 20 questions with no one guessing correctly. The person who guesses correctly is the next player to choose something for everyone else to guess.

Sketchbook and Pencils

One of our favorite things to pack in a kids’ carry bag for both road trips and planes is a sketchbook and pencils. Our kids often use it to draw pictures of the things they see and experience on the trip. They are also great to bring to dinner to offer a screen-free alternative in a restaurant.

I Spy Travel Edition

While on your road trip, travel I Spy is another road trip game kids love to play in the car. The travel edition is themed for planes and road trips with kids, so it is a great thing to bring on your family vacation.

My road trip activity pack also includes a road trip scavenger hunt. Honestly, the road trip scavenger hunt is one of my kids’ favorite games and it can be adapted for different age groups.

Travel Journal

A travel journal is a great way for kids to document and keep track of their trips. older kids that love to write would really like travel journaling. They are also great road trip activities kids love! My road trip activity pack includes five travel journal pages, or you can get one like this one.

Snacks

Okay, this may seem obvious. But road trip snacks for kids, toddlers, and teens count as an activity. When the kids get restless, a good snack or road trip meal is a good way to keep them busy for a bit, especially younger kids. It also helps to tide them over until the next rest stop.

Counting Game

The counting game is another fun class game for any long trip. First, choose an item to count like road signs, trains, barns, etc and then count the number you see as you ride down the road.

Paint By Sticker Activity

Creative kids will love this paint-by-sticker set. Similar to a color-by-number, these stickers will create a mosaic picture kids will love. It’s a fun way to “paint” a picture in the car without all of the mess.

Travel Origami

Crafty kids might enjoy Travel Origami on the road. Making mini cars with paper is a great road trip activity for kids!

Tablets and Apps (limited)

If kids can do limited apps on a tablet during one of your road trips, here are a few of our favorites:

  • This is my car
  • Audible
  • Barefoot World Atlas
  • Stack The States

Podcasts and Music

One of our go-to things to do on a long ride is put on music as a road trip activity for our kids. And fun, family music like The Greatest Showman, Moana, or Disney Mania is enough to entertain the whole car with a family singalong. Now, if this doesn’t work for the whole family, make sure your kids have a good set of headphones.

Podcasts made for kids and families are also one of the best things to do on a long car ride with kids. Some of the best podcasts for road trips and long drives can be educational and entertaining.

Our favorites for kids include:

  • Sesame Street Podcast (for toddler, preschool, and early elementary-aged kids – it’s really fun for younger kids)
  • Story Pirates
  • Wow In The World
  • The Past & The Curious

Color Doodle

If you don’t want to bring lots of pencils or markers for drawing, the Color Doodle is a great solution. Kids can draw and make pictures on this fun, colorful board and keep everything in one place.

Travel Lego

Now, bringing Legos on one of your road trips with kidsmight be a bit ambitious. But this travel Lego set is a way for kids to be creative using the carry box as a base. For Lego-loving kids, this is a great, screen-free road trip activity kids will enjoy.

Seek and Find Books

My kids love seek and find books, and you can find a couple of these activities in my road trip activity pack. But for kids who really love to spend time looking for things, seek and find books make fun activities for kids on road trips!

Washi Tape

Another creative activity for kids is Washi tape or a creative tape book. Using this fun, colorful tape to decorate artwork, travel journals, scrapbooks, or just to make designs is a great road trip kid activity to keep little ones busy and off screens.

BVWK Tip: Surprise Bags!
When I was a kid, my parents had “surprise” bags and activities each time we hit a certain mileage point or a new state. Having little surprise bags is one of my favorite road trip kid activities to keep kids engaged and happy.

Ours usually contain one activity, a “fun snack,” and maybe a candy or small toy. Wondering how to entertain little kids and older children on a road trip? This is my “secret sauce and you’ll get bonus points with the kids when you hand out these neat bags.” Fun surprise bags are age-dependent, of course, but here are some ideas we have done:

  • Polly pocket (or small “surprise” toy-like Shopkins)
  • Travel Spirograph
  • Magnetic solitaire 
  • Mini notebooks and crayons/pencils/pens
  • Candy (special occasion candy, like M & Ms, novelty candy)
  • Heathy snacks
  • Fun toys for young kids
  • Dollar Store Toys (Honestly, you can find a lot of things to amuse your kids at the Dollar Store.)
  • Matchbox Cars
  • Gum/Mints (for older kids)
  • Stickers
  • FlashCards
  • Mad Libs
  • Scratch Art Paper
  • Water Wow Book
  • Imagine Ink Books
  • Mystery Invisible Ink Book
  • State-specific items for your new state (stickers, key chain, fun facts)

Road Trip Activities For Toddlers to Preschool Age

Mother and little son in the car. Woman watching boy looking through the book. Kid sitting in child safety seat

Kids ages toddler to preschool age have shorter attention spans and can be easily frustrated when things drop. So, when looking for things to do on a long ride with toddlers, keep it simple. That is the best rule of thumb for road trip activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

When my kids were this age, we used magnets and a cookie sheet to keep them busy. Whether you use alphabet and number magnets or shapes and images, these are simple activities for traveling with kids four-years-old and under will love.

Coloring Books

Kids this age love coloring books, and they make great road trip activities to keep kids occupied on a family road trip. Be sure to have a travel tray like this one to give toddlers a place to do their busy work (and keep everything together.) My road trip activity pack also includes coloring pages.

Sticker Books

Sticker books are great way to keep kids occupied on a family road trip. Our kids loved toddler sticker books to keep them busy on road trips. Ones like these make-a-face books will keep your children busy for a while!

Color Wonder

Crayola’s color wonder sets are great road trip activities for toddlers. Not only do the markers not turn color until they hit the special paper. But with this stow-and-go set, they can store the markers, and paper, and provide a place to color!

Magnetic Puzzles

Another of our favorite road trip kid activities for the toddler set is magnetic puzzles! Better than regular puzzles, their magnet side helps keep them in place (so they don’t fall a part in the car). There are cute options as well like magnetic dress-up puzzles and magnetic face puzzles.

Art To Go Travel Easel

A great road trip activity for toddlers is the Crayola Art To Go Travel Easel. Not only is it a great way to keep toddlers busy in the car. But it packs up and can come into any restaurant. Toddlers can draw and erase and draw again, making it a lasting activity they will love!

Portable Road and Train Tape

This is an awesome thing to do on a long trip with toddlers! You can make a portable road or train track as a fun car trip game and activity for your toddler. Simply use cardboard or a baking sheet and tape these portable roads and trains tape to create a road or railroad on the go.

Bring along some matchbox cars, trains, or Thomas trains (everyone’s favorite), and you will have a great road trip activity for toddlers!

Travel Felt Set

Felt is another fun activity for toddlers on road trips. This travel felt set is a great way to keep tots busy in the car with a creative felt activity set. Because felt sticks to itself, it is less frustrating than stickers and reusable!

Road Trip Activities For Teens and Tweens (and Kids)

Photo credit: iStock by Getty via PicMonkey

Radical Road Trip Box

Engaging teens and tweens in activities and games might be a challenge. But the radical road trip box will change that. This unique twist on road trip activities will keep them engaged and entertained for sure! It is one of the coolest ideas of things to do on a long ride with teens.

Books and Audiobooks

While kids and toddlers may also love to read books on their road trips, this can be a great way to keep teens entertained (and off their phones.) Getting a good trilogy they can’t put down is a great way to pass the time. Audiobooks for teens are also great to avoid motion sickness. This is one of our go-to things to do on a long rides with big kids.

Music

Teens and tweens love music, so this is a great car trip activity for them. Having good headphones makes it great for them to listen to their tunes, while parents can listen to theirs! These would also make some of the best gifts for tweens and teens!

Tablets and Apps (limited)

Let’s face it. Teens and phones or tablets go hand in hand. But you can encourage some good apps to keep them focused on trip-friendly content.

Some of the best apps for teens to use on a road trip include:

  • Audible (for audiobooks)
  • Photo/Video apps to document the trip
  • Google Maps and Roadtripper to follow along the route
  • Duolingo to learn a language
  • Geocatching
  • GeoBee app
  • GeoWalk

Travel Friendship Bracelet Maker

Tweens and crafty teens can keep busy by making bracelets with the travel friendship bracelet maker. My sister and I used to pass time with this activity on road trips to my grandmother’s house. Not only is it creative, but it is a great, screen-free road trip activity for teens that parents will love too!

Window Crayons

If you are brave enough to let your teen draw on your car windows, more power to you. These window crayons can be used to get teens excited about the trip.

Whether they craft “beach or bust” messages or draw cute pictures, these window crayons wash off and are made for windows. It is a fun road trip activity teens will enjoy!

Maps and Atlases

Another of our favorite things to do on a long ride in the car with teens is to give them maps and atlases. Teens especially may enjoy tracking where you are heading and following the journey. Atlases will also help them learn about the places they are passing through and about geography in general!

Need a printable Road Trip Activity Pack for kids? You can find mine here!

Final Thought On Road Trip Activities For Kids

Road Trip activities for kids are essential when taking a long car ride with kids. Not only will it keep them entertained and busy, but it can make the journey memorable and fun! With these great activities for road trips with kids, your passengers will have plenty to keep them busy, whether they are toddlers, school-aged, or teens!

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10 Comments

  1. This is such an amazing list! We have TONS of road trips coming up and I’m trying to prepare. I totally downloaded stack the states and the atlas games and added a couple of those travel games to my shopping cart. About to add those podcasts to my daughter’s iPad too! Thank you for putting this together! -Linzey @thefamilyfuntour

    1. Thanks, Linzey! I am so glad it is helpful for your trips. I know keeping kids busy for so long can be a challenge. I am glad you have plenty of items for your trips :).

  2. Thanks for all these tips! Says this mama on her way to Yosemite National Park with two little girls sketching in the back! 🥰

  3. This is such a useful list, thank you. It’s so hard to keep kids entertained on a long journey.

    1. Thanks, Jennie. Yes, it really is. And coming up with unique “out of the box” ideas is hard too. I am so glad this list is helpful!

    1. Yes, several things on this list are appropriate for a 10 year old child. I have twins turning 10 and they love my activity pack, as well as several of the podcasts and games on this list. Enjoy your trip!

  4. This is great im a tween and were going on a 24 hours trip to Florida and these are going to be very helpful and usefull in the car

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