Road Trip Tips: Keeping Kids Entertained on Long Drives

Krystal DeVille

Road Trip Tips.

Are you going on a long drive soon with the whole family? It’s going to be fun, but long stretches on the road can be a pain when it comes to keeping children entertained in the backseat. With some planning, parents can ensure that the kiddos have a variety of activities, transforming travel time into an engaging and memorable experience.

In this guide, we offer road trip tips designed to ensure every moment is unforgettable!

Key Takeaways:

  • Proactive planning of a family road trip can prevent travel boredom for children.
  • A variety of digital and non-digital activities cater to different moods and preferences.
  • Incorporating family favorites like music and stories enhances shared experience.

Pre-Trip Planning

Family outside their car looking for road on map.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Before setting out on the best road trip with kids, planning for their entertainment and comfort is crucial.

A well-packed travel activity bag, a selection of suitable entertainment, and key safety and comfort items will make the journey more enjoyable for both children and adults. Let the kids have a say in what goes into the bag to ensure they’re excited about the options, making it a successful road trip.

Creating a Travel Activity Bag

When assembling a travel activity bag, variety is the key. Parents should consider including a road trip hacks bundle that could have the following:

  • Coloring books
  • Crayons
  • Stickers
  • A mix of travel games

Also, purchasing new, inexpensive items from a dollar store can increase the novelty and keep the kids engaged for hours.

Puzzle and activity books tailored to the child’s age group make great inclusions for solitary play. Kids love discovering new items in their activity bags, and this excitement can help maintain their sanity and yours throughout the journey, especially since kids haven’t experienced everything the open road has to offer.

Selecting Suitable Entertainment

For auditory entertainment, headphones paired with a device can provide children with access to audiobooks and streaming services with a library of music and family-friendly podcasts.

KinVibes Pro-Tip: An important tip is to pre-download content to ensure accessibility in areas with limited service. If the kids love screen time, loading a tablet with movies and educational apps can provide both fun and learning opportunities.

Including traditional travel games tailored to the age and interests of the children also encourages interaction and can be a fun way to pass the time. Travel tips often emphasize the importance of balancing screen time with other activities to prevent car sickness.

Safety and Comfort Considerations

Comfort can greatly affect a child’s mood, so make sure to follow these tips:

  1. Ensure car seats are properly fitted and that children have a comfortable pillow or cushion for naps.
  2. Safety should be a priority with all items securely stored to prevent injury during unexpected stops.
  3. It’s also helpful to pack a variety of snacks that are not only healthy but also low-mess and easy to handle.
  4. Staying hydrated is important, but consider using water bottles with closable lids to avoid spills.

bathroom breaks

Planning for bathroom breaks and knowing when the next rest stop can help prevent accidents and keep kids happy and comfortable on long trips.

Junk food might be tempting, but healthier snacks will make for a more successful road trip.

Can’t tell you how many times potty planning has saved us from disaster! When you’re going on a long trip, it’s essential to hit the open road with everything your kids will love to ensure kids get the most out of the experience without losing their sanity.

Digital Entertainment

Little boy with tablet computer buckled in car seat.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

In today’s tech-savvy world, digital devices are a staple for entertaining three kids during long car rides. They offer a variety of content that can keep your kids engaged for hours in the car.

Utilizing Tablets and Apps

Tablets like iPads are a treasure trove for road trip entertainment. They’re portable, easy to use, and can hold a wealth of apps and games.

For variety, parents can preload the tablet with a mix of educational and fun apps to suit different ages and interests, making it the ultimate guide to planning a trip with digital tools.

It’s also handy to include streaming apps for access to favorite road trip shows and movies, ensuring there’s always something new to watch, which is a crucial part of the trip.

  • Educational Apps: Apps such as Duolingo for language learning or NASA’s space exploration app let your kids explore new worlds without needing to get the kids out of the car.
  • Fun Apps: Games like Minecraft or interactive story apps cater to various age groups, providing activities for kids that are both entertaining and potentially educational.
  • Streaming Apps: Netflix, Disney+, or Hulu for access to various movies and shows. Remember that some apps allow offline downloads in case of spotty internet connections.

Portable DVD Players and Movies

Portable DVD players remain a solid choice for parents who prefer physical media over streaming. They don’t rely on a internet connection and can be a great use of a child’s DVD collection, offering a nostalgic touch to your next family adventure.

Parents should consider bringing a variety of DVDs to cater to different moods and tastes, along with a change of clothes for those inevitable spills or to refresh tired kids.

Movie Selection Tips

  • Include a mix of new releases and timeless classics to let your kids pick their favorite road trip movies, enhancing the overall experience.
  • Ensure a range of genres like animation, adventure, and family comedies, perfect for when you’re stopping at gas stations for a break and need to quickly switch the mood.

Headphones and Podcasts

Headphones are a must-have accessory for quiet and personalized listening. They allow each child to enjoy their entertainment without disturbing others. Alongside music, podcasts are an emerging option, offering stories and educational content that can captivate kids for hours.

Podcast Recommendations

  • Storytelling podcasts like Stories Podcast or Circle Round, an excellent way to trip will help keep the imagination flowing.
  • Educational series such as Wow in the World for curious minds, making every mile an opportunity to learn something new.

KinVibes Pro-Tip: When equipping children with headphones, volume-limiting models can help protect their hearing, a thoughtful consideration for keeping kids entertained on long drives. Additionally, don’t forget the road trip snacks to complete the experience!

Interactive Games

three happy kids in the car looking outside.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Keeping kids in tow engaged during a road-trip can be a breeze with a mix of classic games and creative new twists, like using a road atlas for an educational scavenger hunt. Interactive games are perfect for promoting family bonding and keeping the little ones’ minds active while driving through the night.

Classic Car Games

I spy

I Spy is the quintessential road trip game where one plays the spotter, saying “I spy with my little eye, something…” and others guess what it is. Easy to play and requiring no tools, it’s a favorite tips for all ages.

alphabet game

For those who enjoy a good challenge, the Alphabet Game keeps everyone on the lookout for objects that start with sequential letters of the alphabet found outside the car, making kids enjoy the whole trip.

Travel Bingo and Scavenger Hunts

Road trip Bingo turns the passing scenery into a playful competition, a great trip packing tip to make sure kids like the games you bring, while Google Maps can add a modern twist by tracking your route. Passengers on this game often check off items like the following:

  • Animals
  • Vehicles
  • Landmarks

On the other hand, Scavenger Hunts are perfect for the more adventurous at heart, encouraging kids to take a deep breath of fresh air as they look for items or scenarios outside the window, from obscure road signs to specific types of license plates.

Creative Storytelling and Word Games

Hit the dollar store for affordable game ideas and supplies that will keep everyone entertained on long distance drives. Remember, the key with any road trip game is to tailor it to the age range of players and to always keep the spirit of fun alive, ensuring you all enjoy your time together as a family.

Hangman and Word Searches: This game keeps young minds whirring, combining fun with a stealthy vocabulary lesson.

20 Questions or the License Plate Game: For a spontaneous and interactive storytelling session, games like these where one creates a narrative based on the letters and numbers seen on plates, can provide hours of entertainment.

Board Games: This can be adapted for car play, and potato chips can be a fun snack reward for winners.

Activity-Based Entertainment

Keeping children occupied during a road trip this summer involves a mix of creativity, fun, and sometimes a bit of education. The following activities are targeted to keep them occupied and content while on the move.

Crafts and Coloring

Coloring books remain a timeless favorite. Equipping kids with a variety of coloring books washable markers, or crayons can provide hours of entertainment.

For a reusable option, dry erase coloring books or boards are handy, and they pair well with a travel tray to provide a solid surface for drawing. Wikki Stix, due to its moldable nature, can also be a fascinating craft material for kids to create different shapes and characters.

KinVibes Pro-Tip: Before embarking on your journey with your family of five, don’t forget to check your tire pressure to ensure a smooth drive each day.

Puzzle and Brainteaser Books

Puzzle books are excellent for brain stimulation and can keep kids intrigued for long stretches. Consider stocking up on books filled with age-appropriate word searches and crossword puzzles.

Mad Libs

Additionally, magnetic puzzles are great for travel, as they’re less likely to fall apart or lose pieces. Brainteasers and activity books, like Mad Libs, add variety and can be both fun and educational.

Planning your family vacation well, including places to stop along your route, can significantly enhance the journey and avoid gas station snacks overload.

Educational Activities

Portrait of young mother and three age-diverse boys sitting in the safety car seats.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Incorporating learning into travel entertainment can be both fun and beneficial.

Educational Activity Books: These can cover a range of subjects from math and science to history.

Tablets: Load these with educational apps, but ensure there’s a balance between screen time and other activities.

Journaling: You can teach your kids about journaling the trip or reading books related to the travel destination. This will create memories that will last a lifetime.

Music and Audiobooks

Music can transform the atmosphere of a road trip, turning long hours into a rhythmic journey. A thoughtfully compiled playlist can provide the background for a family sing-along, creating fun memories.

Parents should consider creating playlists with a mix of genres, including upbeat road trip songs and children’s favorites, to cater to everyone’s taste.

On the other hand, audiobooks offer a form of entertainment that can engage the entire family without the need for screens. Selecting titles that are appealing to both kids and adults, such as “Matilda” or stories by Roald Dahl, can lead to enjoyable listening and lively discussions.

When choosing audiobooks:

  1. Look for age-appropriate content.
  2. Pick stories with compelling narratives.
  3. Consider the length of the book based on the trip duration.

To individualize the experience, especially for kids with distinct tastes, a personal set of headphones can be invaluable. This allows children to immerse themselves in an audiobook without disturbing others.

Technology Tips

  1. Ensure devices are fully charged or have car chargers.
  2. Download content in advance to avoid data charges.

By mixing music and audiobooks, long drives can become an anticipated part of the adventure. These auditory experiences not only keep kids occupied but also support their listening skills and imagination.

Quiet Time Strategies

For parents looking to maintain a peaceful environment while ensuring their kids are engaged, integrating quiet time strategies into the journey can be a game-changer. These tactics range from individual reading sessions to silent games that can be both fun and relaxing.

Books and Reading

Kids often delight in losing themselves in a good story. Books serve as fantastic travel companions, offering a quiet escape into different worlds.

Parents can pack a variety of reading materials, such as the following items:

  • Novels for older children
  • Picture books for younger ones
  • Magazines
  • Reading materials with stickers or jokes

Solo Activities

Quiet activities are key to keeping kids entertained without adding noise to the mix.

Sudoku, coloring books, and puzzle books: These are excellent for older children who can focus independently.

For younger travelers, paint by sticker activity books or simple counting games with small toys can be both entertaining and educational. Always make sure these activities are suited to the child’s age and interests to maximize their quiet time enjoyment.

Scheduled Breaks

It’s important to intersperse periods of activity with scheduled breaks. A calm routine of scheduled quiet time can help children unwind and process the day’s adventures.

Parents might also consider setting specific times for these activities, which helps establish a predictable quiet period that kids can look forward to each day of the trip.

Snacks and Meals

Healthy Snacks

  • Crackers & Cereal: Easy to handle and mess-free options like oat crackers or cereal puffs.
  • Fruits & Veggies: Opt for less-messy choices such as apple slices, bananas, baby carrots, or cucumber sticks.
  • Proteins: Pre-pack hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks, or roasted edamame beans for a protein boost.

Treats & Fun Snacks

  • Bars: Kid-friendly granola or cereal bars can be a sweet treat that’s still filling.
  • Elevate the ordinary: Transform a simple yogurt into a fun parfait by layering it with granola and fruit in a jar.

DIY Trail Mix

  • Mix a custom trail mix with a combination of nuts (for older kids), seeds, dried fruits, and a sprinkling of chocolate chips.

Creative Meal Ideas: They shouldn’t forget about mealtimes on longer trips. Portable, easy-to-eat sandwiches, wraps, or pasta salads work well.

Meal TypeSuggestions
SandwichesTurkey & cheese; peanut butter & jelly; hummus & veggie
WrapsGrilled chicken & salad; black bean wrap
Pasta SaladsItalian pasta with mozzarella; chicken Caesar pasta salad

Lastly, always include plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated and don’t forget a cooler to keep perishables fresh. Remember, with kids, variety and a few surprises can make snacking an adventure of its own.

Creating Lasting Memories

family of our sitting at the back of their van.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Travel Journaling and Photography

A simple notebook can become a treasured keepsake when kids use it as a travel journal. They can jot down their thoughts, document places on a map, or engage in drawing prompts that capture their view from the car window. Pairing their words with photos makes the journal even more personal and vivid.

  • Journaling: Encourage kids to describe sights, sounds, and experiences.
  • Photography: Arm them with a camera to take photos of landmarks and scenery.

Collecting Mementos

Every stop on a road trip offers the chance to collect small souvenirs that are emblematic of the journey. Guiding children to choose or find an object from each location can lead to an endearing collection that tells the story of their adventure.

  • Maps and brochures: Free and informative, they are perfect for scrapbooking later.
  • Small tokens: Encourage the selection of pebbles, leaves, or other natural items, ensuring they respect the environment.

Reflecting on the Journey

The act of reflecting on the trip can solidify memories and help children appreciate the breadth of their experience. They can use the travel journal to recap their favorite moments or discuss the highlights as a family.

  • Family Discussion: Share favorite experiences from the road trip each day.
  • Journal Entries: Prompt them to write or draw about their favorite part of each day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some engaging road trip games suitable for kids of various ages?

For young children, the License Plate Game can be fun, and they simply need to spot different states on passing cars. Tweens may enjoy Road Trip Bingo, where they can seek out various roadside attractions and mark them on a bingo card.

Which printable activities are best for keeping children occupied during car journeys?

Printable activities such as crossword puzzles, word searches, and coloring pages are great for children of all ages. For older kids, more complex puzzles or travel journal pages can be engaging.

How can you keep a toddler entertained on a long road trip?

For toddlers, simple, mess-free tactile toys like silicone bubble pop toys, or soft books, can provide hours of entertainment. Playing their favorite songs or audiobooks can also be a good distraction.

What kind of activities can help make a road trip enjoyable for tweens?

Tweens might enjoy games like I Spy or 20 Questions. Encouraging them to photograph interesting sights or start a travel blog can keep them engaged in the journey.

Can you suggest some fun car activities that would be suitable for 7 to 10-year-olds?

Children aged 7 to 10 often enjoy scavenger hunts, where they have a list of items to watch for during the trip. Interactive travel maps where they can track the route are also engaging.

What are the essentials to pack for a smooth and fun road trip with children?

Essentials include a mix of toys, games, and comforts from home. Pack snacks, water, wet wipes, a first-aid kit, and a mix of electronic and non-electronic activities to cater to different moods and interests.


Remember, the key to a harmonious road trip lies not just in meticulously planning each snack and playlist but in embracing the spontaneous moments that arise, fostering a sense of discovery and bonding that enriches the family tapestry.

So, as you set off on your next road trip, equipped with these tips, anticipate not just the places you’ll explore but the unforgettable experiences you’ll create together, turning long drives into treasured chapters of your family’s story.

About Krystal DeVille

Hello! I’m Krystal DeVille. By day, I wear many hats: a homeschool teacher, wife, and mother. By night, I’m a fervent journalist, pouring my thoughts and experiences onto paper. Parenthood, for me, has been an exhilarating roller-coaster filled with emotions, invaluable lessons, and moments of sheer joy. With three wonderful kids of my own, I’ve journeyed through the highs and lows — from sleepless nights to their very first steps and those unforgettable proud parent moments.

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