Make your next vacation fun for everyone with these awesome road trip games and activities! A little prep can help so much in making even a long trek a fun family memory.
This post is full of simple ideas that don’t require a lot of money or time to prepare. Rotate in some of these ideas with movies and electronics, and you’ll be there before you know it!
I’ll start with one of my TOP TIPS: I highly recommend planning your stops before you head out on the road. Just a little bit of research will help you choose stops near a nice park to explore or an interesting place to visit. It makes the trip much more fun!At the bottom of the post, I’ll share also some tips for kids who get carsick, so look for those if you have kids who struggle on trips.
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Road Trip Games:
- I Spy – I mean, what trip would be complete without this classic game?
- The Alphabet Game – players have to find every letter of the alphabet (in order) on signs or on license plates.
- The License Plate Game – this is fun even for teens and adults! For little ones, you can order this Melissa and Doug Magnetic License Plate Game from Amazon. This is a great way to learn US geography too!
- Rotating DJ – each person takes a turn picking a favorite song to listen to!
- Car Count – Choose a make/model of car and count how many you see! Or choose an unusual car color, and count all the cars you see in that color. Younger kids can just count all the pickup trucks they see, or 18 wheeler trucks. This would be a good time for kids to practice tally marks on a clipboard. Or, use one of those pop it toys for counting! Pop down one bubble for each car you see.
- Magnetic Checkers – our kids love this! Store the game pieces inside the little tin.
- LCD Writing Tablet – if you haven’t played with one of these, you are MISSING OUT! Janie asked for one for her 9th birthday, and she loves it. Simply draw on the screen with the accompanying pen or with your finger. Push the button, and the drawing instantly disappears! These tablets are perfect for tic-tac-toe, the dot game, or for preschoolers to just doodle. We have this LCD tablet from Amazon, and also a Boogie Board brand LCD tablet from Barnes and Noble. The Boogie Board is a little better quality, but the colors seem more vivid on the Amazon one.
- Riddles – Here’s a printable list of Riddles for Kids! See if the kids can figure out the answers.
- Family Story – create a story by having each family member take turns telling a part!
- Mad Libs – this is a FAVORITE in our van on road trips! Here’s a great book to start with – Goofy Mad Libs. You will not regret the $4.99 spent on this! There are tons of options if your kids have already done this book. Our kids like the pet book, and the siblings one is pretty funny too.
- The Play Dough Game – Give your kids each a cookie sheet and a tub of play dough. Then call out play dough challenges! Animal, vehicle, summer scene, desert, mountains, etc. After each round, the kids describe their creations and mom or dad picks a winner. A few rounds of this will easily pass some time!
- Spelling Bee – Do a Google search for grade appropriate lists! This may sound like school, but it’s surprisingly fun!! Kids can say the words out loud, or write them on their LCD tablet (shown above).
- Positive Conversation Starters – If whining is starting to take over, shift the mood with these Positive Conversation Starters! They won’t all apply to traveling (some are designed to be used after school), but many of them do.
Road Trip Crafts and Activities:
- Coloring/Drawing – a cookie sheet makes a great work surface, especially for kids who are still in a car seat. Bring a lap desk for older kids. Here are 200+ Free Coloring Pages for Kids.
- Make friendship bracelets! A clipboard works great for securing the end while you work, or you can use a safety pin to attach the end to the seat in front of you or to your pants. Here’s a great Friendship Bracelet Tutorial.
- Pipe Cleaner Creations – I bought a pack of mini pipe cleaners for one of our vacations, and it kept our daughter busy for a long time! Kids can bend them into animals, rings, flowers, etc. Pipe cleaners are super cheap, there’s no mess, and you can throw them away when you’re done!
- Magnetic Tiles on a Cookie Sheet – this is an AMAZING idea for toddlers and preschoolers! The cookie sheet sits nicely across a carseat, and the magnetic tiles will stick to it. This idea saved our road trip from Texas to California a few years ago.
- Create your Own Comic Strip – our printable comic strip templates make this super easy! Kids will enjoy drawing and writing their own comic book story.
- Paint by Sticker Books – we LOVE these!! We bought Paint by Sticker Kids, the Original for Janie when we were stuck at LAX airport for 5 hours. It was worth every penny!! Kids will make cool mosaics out of bunches of little stickers. It’s so fun and relaxing.
- Window Clings – these are so much fun for kids to play with as you drive down the road! Here’s a set of Vehicle Window Clings, but Amazon has tons of other choices like Animals, etc.
- Surprise Bags – fill brown paper lunch sacks with a little treat to open every hour, or every time you cross a state line. These can hold Hot Wheels cars, stickers, a fun snack, an action figure, a new book, or any other little gift. Pro Tip – go to the Dollar Store before your trip and stock up! If you’re driving into the nighttime hours, a night bag is fun too. Put in a glow stick, eye mask, bedtime snack, etc.
Tips for Kids Who Get Carsick
Carsickness can ruin a trip quick, whether it’s kids or adults! No fun! Here are some of our best tips.
- Let the carsick person ride up front.
- Bring a box of small trash bags, or order these handy vomit bags from Amazon.
- Avoid reading or watching screens. Play games that involve looking out the window instead!
- Bring a comfortable pillow for naps. Holding your head still by resting it on a pillow can also help you feel better.
- Eat small frequent meals and avoid heavy things like fried foods (hard to do on a road trip).
- A friend highly recommended these Motion Sickness Lollipops! The medicine is in powder form on the outside of the lollipop, so just a few licks are needed for kids to start feeling much better. She said one lollipop is all her daughter needs to make it through a day of travel.