10 Fun Road Trip Activities for Kids
There is this grand myth about the fun and excitement of the open road. However, road trips can be long and tedious for many younger family members, with no end in sight. Instead of focusing all the excitement on the destination, make the journey more fun and memorable.
You may not want your kid watching movies or playing Minecraft for the whole road trip. Finding ways to engage them with the beauty of the world around them and the family can be tricky, but it can also be gratifying.
- Expectations for Road Trip Activities
- Pass Time
- Things to Consider When Planning Activities
- Solo or Group
- Engagement with Family and the Trip
- Top Ten Road Trip Activities for Kids
- 1. Get a Kids Atlas
- 2. The Alphabet Game
- 3. State Licences Bingo
- 4. Truck (Vehicle) Color Race
- 5. Who Can Find the Most X in this State?
- 6. Activity Books
- 7. Magnetic Travel Games
- 8. Books (Audio Books)
- 9. Name Three
- 10. Twenty Questions
- Bonus Suggestion: Make Every Stop Count
- Final Thoughts
Expectations for Road Trip Activities
On every road trip, you are going to try to achieve the same three goals. You want to entertain, educate, and pass the time. You will be stuck in the car for a while, and if you don’t keep it fun, kids will get bored and ask the dreaded question, are we there yet?
If your activities cover one or more of these criteria, they will become road trip classics that your kids will love from the back seat or even the car seat.
No one wants to be bored. Everyone goes to great lengths to stay entertained and excited. When you are picking out activities for your kids on the trip, ask yourself if this is something they will have fun doing.
Learning is fundamental. Activities that challenge your kids and teach them new facts and skills are essential. It is also fun to reinforce concepts and ideas that they already know.
Turning a road trip into a history lesson doesn’t have to be boring. You can focus on personal stories that make history come alive on the trip. Find first-hand accounts from people who lived in the area and share them as you drive. It will help make the history more personal.
Every road trip activity has to pass the time. More extended activities can make the whole trip go faster. You want to find the right mix of time spent on the activity and fun factor. If the game goes too long, people get tired of it. If it is too short, you don’t use it to the fullest.
Things to Consider When Planning Activities
You want to ensure that your activities are fun and engage everyone. Some kids will be thrilled sitting and reading for the whole trip; some may want to play Roblox for the entire ride, while others want nothing more than to run around rather than be confined in a small box.
You have to develop a mix in your activities so that everyone can have fun and engage in the way they want.
Solo or Group
Sometimes kids are going to want activities that are just theirs. Other times they will want to play with everyone. Having a mix of solo and group activities can help keep everyone enjoying the trip in the way they want. It also gives you the flexibility to enjoy some adult time on the trip.
Engagement with Family and the Trip
You want activities that encourage kids to observe the outside world. You also want them to talk and play with the family. With phones and tablets, kids can crawl into a virtual world and forget what is happening around them.
Games that make kids look for things outside the car can cause them to find and engage with many different activities that they may not have known they liked.
Every child is different. You may have a kid who can’t stand trivia games or a kid who loves to lead the game. You can adjust every game on this list to suit your kid specifically.
If your kid bulks at board games, don’t bring them. If they love reading, focus on books. Change a game’s rules to whoever can find the most teslas or mustangs to keep them fun.
If your kid has a history of getting car sick, you may want to remind them to look out the front windows during the games. You may also want to avoid activities that make them focus in the back seat. Use the games that let them talk more and look around less.
Top Ten Road Trip Activities for Kids
Before the road trip starts, it is crucial that you get all the supplies you may need to entertain and engage your kids on the trip. Not every kid will love each of these ideas, so you have to find the games and activities to help your kids have the most fun.
It is easy to customize each of these to your child’s age group. Some of these games can start at elementary and easy levels and get more complex as your kid matures so that they can stay fun for a very long time.
1. Get a Kids Atlas
A kids atlas offers maps, trivia, and activities to entertain and educate your kid on the trip. A good one will have a complete map of the US, Canada, and Mexico on one page. Then it gives individual maps for each state. It will also give facts and activities in the book that are fun.
Before your trip, sit down and map out the route with the kids. Your kids can follow your progress on their own. You can talk about when you change roads and states so that they can keep up. You can learn more about the state and region in every new area, adding depth to a trip.
2. The Alphabet Game
The Alphabet Game is a road trip staple. Start with A and find the letter on a billboard, license plate, or store sign. Once you locate A, you have to look for B, all the way to Z. You can search as a family, or you can take turns depending on how long you want the game to go.
As kids get older, you can limit the letter to the start of a word. You can also modify the game to just license plates or just billboards. These added limitations can add depth to the game, making it more challenging and fun for everyone playing.
3. State Licences Bingo
Before you leave on your trip, you can make bingo boards filled with license plates from different states. You can make this on the computer with pictures, or you can do it by hand just by writing the names of the states. You can also print out premade boards. Make your home state plate or the location you are going to the free spot.
Use states that you will be driving through and states that are close to your trip. Also, have some fun oddball ones that can take time to find and help make the game a ton of fun.
If you don’t have time before you go, you can have your kids call out new license plates and make them off as they see them. The goal can be to find all 50 license plates or all the plates around your road trip locations.
4. Truck (Vehicle) Color Race
This game starts with everyone picking a color. The youngest goes first. Then you start counting the cars or semi-trucks you each see in that color. The first one to ten wins the game, and then you can play for second place and lower, or you can start over again. You can pick colors each time.
The game is a fun competition without being overly competitive because you can’t change what trucks or vehicles are coming. White and Red are the most common truck colors, so as your child gets older, you may want to remove these from the starting picks to make the game longer.
5. Who Can Find the Most X in this State?
Every state has something they are known for having. Some are famous, like Wisconsin and dairy farms or Texas and cattle ranches. Others you might have to look up, like Missouri and being the largest mule producer.
Find out what the states you are driving through are famous for, and then call out when you see those items. The person that finds the most items wins. You can have your kids research the state to find out what the goal should be. It can help them learn more about each state they go through.
If you are driving in only one state, you can do the same game for every county or city. It may be harder for the smaller spots.
6. Activity Books
Activity books can add a lot of fun to a road trip, and they can be done alone when everyone needs a little downtime. A good activity book will offer coloring, games, and even short stories that kids can enjoy as they travel.
You can find books that cover topics on your trip or your kid’s favorite characters. Different books for each kid may allow them to find more activities that could be fun.
7. Magnetic Travel Games
Many of your favorite board games come with magnetic travel games you can play on the road. Everything from chess and checkers to Clue and Connect Four can come with you on road trips.
When you add card games to the options, your kids can enjoy games for the entire trip without getting bored.
8. Books (Audio Books)
A classic road trip activity is reading books. You can pick a family book for the trip, like something that deals with the place you’re going, like a biography about Walt Disney for Disney World, or history about the Civil War for Gettysburg.
You can also pick a book that the family has wanted to read for a while. Classics like the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland are great trips. Someone can read it out loud to everyone, or you can get audiobook options that the whole car can enjoy.
The books could also be individual options, and you can discuss them on the trip when you run out of other fun topics.
9. Name Three
Name three is an excellent game for nighttime drives where visibility is lower. Every member of the family picks a topic. The topics can be super broad, like name three colors, to a niche like name three Ninja Turtles.
Once someone names three of the given topic, they can call a new topic. You can pick ideas that deal with the state you are driving in or name topics about your destination. You can gauge the difficulty of the subjects by the age of the children.
10. Twenty Questions
Twenty questions is another great game when you don’t have anything else set up. Someone comes up with a word or phrase and then tells the family if it is a person, place, or thing. Then the rest of the family gets twenty questions to discover the topic.
If no one comes up with an answer after twenty questions, the person who thought of the thing wins. If the team guesses it, the team wins. You can play until someone gets ten points or play until everyone has a specific amount of terms and then add up the points.
Bonus Suggestion: Make Every Stop Count
In the modern area, you can plan your trip down to the minute. So with a bit of effort, you can make every gas stop count for something fun. Find cute roadside attractions and stores to schedule gas and bathroom breaks.
These can sometimes be a little kitschy like the biggest ball of yarn in America, or they can have historical significance like the oldest hotels in America. Make each stop and stay something fun and memorable for everyone.
You and your family will remember your road trips for the rest of your lives, so try to make them fun. They are going to be complicated and annoying at times, but keep your cool.
Even terrible road trip experiences can become amazing stories with time. You will sit around laughing about the time you ran out of gas on Route 66 or the time you had to take a bathroom break on the side of the road in West Texas behind a cactus.
You will remember the good times even more fondly, and they will bring a smile to you and your kids’ faces forever. These fun road trip activities will add richness to the overall road trip experience for everyone in the car.