If you’re headed out on a 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 trip kid activities for a range of ages!
Often our road trips have been throughout New England for ski trips to Vermont or New Hampshire. And last year, it was a three-week roadtrip through four National Parks in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
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 full-proof! 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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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 if you are traveling with toddlers, school-aged kids, or teens.
So I have segmented this list to include road trip activities for kids, toddlers, and teens. Some of these things to do on a long car ride 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 busy, 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!
Kids love Mad Libs and playing them in the car is a road trip activity in which the whole family can participate. It's one of our favorite things to do on a long car ride 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 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!
My antidote to car sickness from motion sickness from watching the DVD player is Audiobooks ! I have also found it to be one of those road trip activities toddlers and teens love too! 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!.)
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.
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. Or you could try this fun road trip game to keep kids busy during the trip. It is a great thing to do on long car rides with kids!
Another great road trip activity for all ages are 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. )
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.
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.
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 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, so it is a great thing to bring on your road trip. My road trip activity pack also includes a road trip scavenger hunt.
A travel journal is a great way for kids to document and keep track of their trips. 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.
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.
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. Its a fun way to “paint” a picture in the car without all of the mess.
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 your road trip, here are a few of our favorites:
- This is my car
- Barefoot World Atlas
- Stack The States
Podcasts and Music
One of our go-to things to do on a long car 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 fam, 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, early elementary-aged kids)
- Story Pirates
- Wow In The World
- The Past & The Curious
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.
Now, bringing legos on a road trip might 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 great road trip activities for kids!
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.
Road Trip Activities For Toddlers to Preschool Age
Magnets and Cookie Sheet
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 car 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 road trip activities for four years old and under will love.
Kids this age love coloring books and they make great road trip activities to keep kids busy. 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 are great road trip activities for kids. Our kids loved toddler sticker books to keep them busy on road trips. Ones like these make-a-face books will keep kids busy for a while!
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, paper, and provide a place to color!
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 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 car ride with toddlers! You can make a portable road or train track as a fun road 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.
Travel Felt Set
Felt is another fun road trip activity for toddlers. 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)
Radical Road Trip Box
Engaging teens and tweens in road trip 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 car ride with teens.
Books and Audiobooks
While kids and toddlers may also love to read books on their road trip, 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 car ride with kids.
Teens and tweens love music, so this is a great road 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
- GeoBee app
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!
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 car ride 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!
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 road trip activities for kids, your passengers will have plenty to keep them busy, whether they are toddlers, school-aged, or teens!