A long car ride can be ideal for quality family time, interesting conversations, and entertaining activities – if you make it a screen-free trip!
The most important tip to keep in mind when embarking on a road trip: Don’t be afraid of a little boredom. It’s natural and okay for kids to experience occasional bouts of boredom on a long car ride. Learning how to handle boredom is an essential skill for children. A car trip is the perfect opportunity for children to spend some time in their own heads for a while, looking out at the scenery, letting their imaginations roam, and experiencing a little wonder.
That said, it’s still always helpful to have some fun screen-free ideas to help make the miles pass!
40 Road Trip Ideas for Kids
Here’s a list of quick and easy ways to pass the time on a long car ride. Whenever possible, try to put your own spin on the activity (e.g., giving it a funny name; playing a “Mom’s rules” variation) to make it an extra-special memory for the family!
- Give kids an old-fashioned paper map to follow your route! (Rest areas often offer them for free.)
- Take turns completing this sentence: “Something nobody in this car knows about me is . . .”
- Play the license plate game and see how many states you can spot!
- Give kids notebooks and crayons and different 2-minute drawing challenges: (“Draw what you plan to do at our destination!” “Draw your dream house!” “Draw a car from the future!”)
- Play the alphabet game where you take turns coming up with a name, location, and item for each letter: “My name is Anna. I come from Alaska, and I’m bringing apples on this road trip!”
- Try to get as many truck drivers as you can to beep their horns at you!
- Take turns completing this sentence: “If I won a million dollars, the first thing I would do is . . .”
- Play Hug Bug, a peaceful alternative to Slug Bug! When you spot a Volkswagen Beetle, shout “Hug Bug” and hug the passenger next to you!
- Count cars! Pick a color or model and see who can find 10 first!
- Play 20 questions!
- Have a spelling bee!
- Look for pictures in the clouds!
- Play travel bingo! (It can be fun to make up your own bingo cards!)
- Read a book! Especially nice for older siblings to read to younger ones.
- Sing! Belt out some favorite tunes!
- Play the quiet game!
- Make up fun stories about people in cars you pass!
- Count animals! Keep track of the number of animals you see on the roadside!
- Make up a family trivia game (“Which family member’s first word was “ball”? “Who in this car is a brother, a cousin, and an uncle?”)
- Sing “rounds” in family favorite songs!
- Play dots, tic tac toe, hangman and other easy pen and paper games.
- Be spontaneous! Stop and stretch your legs at a scenic view spot or a roadside attraction!
- Use a small metal baking sheet as a play surface for magnets and as a lap desk for drawing, writing, and coloring on paper!
- Teach other passengers a new song!
- Fold up foil – get creative to see what you can make!
- Try tongue twisters: two of our two-word favorites: “Irish wristwatch” and “Unique New York”!
- Play “Would You Rather” by making up silly scenarios, such as, “Would you rather eat a tiny piece of moldy cheese or smell your big brother’s socks?”
- Collaborate on making up lyrics to a special family song!
- Take off your socks (or grab two paper lunch bags) to use as puppets for an impromptu puppet show!
- Make paper Fortune Tellers and take turns asking it questions. (Find folding instructions here.)
- Do an alphabet scavenger hunt looking for objects along the road that start with each letter!
- Pick an object and race to be the first to find a certain quantity of them (“Who can spot 20 cows first?” “Who can spot 12 yield signs first?”)
- Have a contest to be the closest to guessing what time you will reach a certain destination
- Make up age-appropriate, travel related math challenges. (“If the sign says 100 miles to our destination, how far do we have to travel to be halfway there?”)
- Try to make sentences with as many words with the same letter as you can (“Adam ate an apple at an arcade.”)
- Start drawing a picture and pass it to the next person to add on to it.
- Collaborate on creating a poem by taking turns contributing rhyming lines.
- Challenge yourselves to make up sentences using only letters: I-C-U, or U-R-A-Q -T!
- See how many people in other cars you can get to wave to you!