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55 road trip activities for kids

There’s nothing worse than a little voice from the back of the car announcing ‘I’m bored!’ before you’ve even set off – so when you’re planning a journey, it pays to have a string of road trip activities for kids lined up.

Child in sunglasses, shirt, tie and jeans with a red helmet driving a toy red sports car at home - the best road trip activities for kids and tips on entertaining kids on a car journey
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And while gadgets and devices can be a lifesaver, not every activity you do in the car has to be electronic – so if you’re looking for screen-free ideas, or options for kids who get motion sick, read on.

From games and toys to other entertainment, I’ve got 55 different ideas of road trip activities for kids aged 10 and under, including ideas for toddlers, children who suffer from travel sickness, ways to entertain them if you’re driving and ideas for the whole family to join in with.

For more tips on planning a road trip with kids, check out my top tips

Binoculars

Pack a pair of binoculars to keep kids engaged with their surroundings – this is one of the best road trip activities for kids, as the focus is on the journey rather than distracting them from it.

You could set a challenge to see what they can find, from particular sights along the way to birds lingering on tree branches, or simply see what they discover themselves.

A good quality pair of child’s binoculars won’t be too pricy and they’re pretty sturdy if dropped too. If your kids do suffer from travel sickness, make sure you limit the amount of time they spend staring out of side windows though.

Girl in blue and white stripy top looking through old-fashioned binoculars - one of my top road trip activities for kids

Drawing

One of the easiest ways to keep your children ages 10 and under entertained is to supply them with paper and let their imaginations run free!

All you need to do is make sure they have crayons, pencils or pens, and let them get as creative as possible.

Although because accidents do happen, it’s worth checking out washable options – Crayola’s range includes washable markers and washable crayons, while this fantastic travel set includes washable pens, has space for paper and a flat surface for kids to rest on as they draw.

Road trip tip – if you don’t have a travel kit like this, pack a clipboard to give kids a firm surface to rest on (and stop all the paper getting strewn around)

Coloring

As an alternative to designing their own masterpieces, add in a colouring book for them to transform.

With so many options, all you need to do is choose something age-appropriate, or a theme which they love.

This US road trip coloring book is a fun one to try, or I love the Usborne range for younger kids as well as this Travel Pocket Doodling and Colouring book, but the choice is almost endless.

I love the Crayola Color Wonder kit as well – the markers only show up on the special paper, so your kids can’t mark themselves or the car, plus it’s a fun mystery to see how the pictures turn out.

Metallic markers

If your kids are bored by the idea of ordinary markers, find a shimmery sparkly alternative to entertain them.

Gel pens are always fun, but these outline markers from Super Squiggles are fabulous, with shimmery metallic shades surrounded by a bright outline – great for doodling some fancy designs.

Color by number

If your kids are bored of their ordinary coloring books, how about a colour by numbers version for a bit more of a challenge. Whether they decide to follow the rules or not!

This cute animal-themed book is a good one for younger kids, or this Usborne Color by Numbers book is more detailed for older ones.

Flatlay of colourful stationery including pens, markers, highlighters, notebook and more - from dot to dot books to drawing and playing with a spirograph, packing pens is among my top road trip activities for kids

Sticker by Number

You can also find sticker by number books that are just as fun for younger children, right from fairly simple mosaic options to more complicated designs.

Little ones will love these mosaic stickers pr Galt Toys has a travel mosaic sticker book.

The Brain Games range has masses of choice: mostly aimed at age 7+, this animals sticker by number book is lovely or there are sticker by letter versions, including this Ocean Fun book to help practise the alphabet too.

Sticker Art

Provide the kids with blank sheets of paper and a bunch of different stickers, to let them get creative while making some sticker art.

Foam shapes are a good option, and you can buy big tubs of geometric shapes as well as animals, including sea creatures, but there’s a huge range out there.

For more tips on packing for a road trip with kids, check out my advice

Dot to dot books

Another fun activity book which younger kids enjoy, a dot-to-dot book secretly has them practising their numbers and keeps them entertained as they discover what the picture is.

Once kids are old enough to count and read their numbers, there are simpler animal dot to dot books and more complicated puzzles for older kids.

My daughter loves the Creative Haven series, including this Sea Life dot to dot book, or how about famous landmarks for a travel theme?

Spirograph

There’s something very satisfying about creating your own designs with a spirograph, twirling the pieces over the paper to unveil the finished image.

This travel spirograph is compact and there’s less chance of losing bits too. Plus you can always get kids to shade it in once they’ve finished making the outline for added entertainment value.

Doodle Board

Purchase fun doodle boards for the kids and let them go to town – then it’s easy to wipe it away and start again, perfect for toddlers or perfectionists!

You’ll find plenty of different options but magnetic doodle boards like the classic Etchasketch are great for entertaining, and mess-free. Or check out Color Doodle for a more high-tech alternative.

Water magic/Water Wow books

Only the brave would take a full set of paints into the back of the car, but if your kids love painting, water magic books are a fun option for a road trip.

My daughter loved the Galt Water Magic range, with everything from dinosaurs and vehicles to animals and fairies, plus the pens don’t leak. It’s well worth packing a couple though, in case one gets dropped.

Magnetic Face Book

Supply your younger kids with a magnetic face book. As it’s magnetic, there’s less chance of pieces getting dropped and lets children create different funny or crazy faces.

This Funny Face magnetic play set can also be used as a game or try this Funny Faces activity set. There are magnetic dress up options too.

Child artwork of a handmade lion mask made from a paper plate - one of my top craft activities for a road trip with kids

Create a mask

Give the kids paper plates and markers and encourage them to create a mask – it could have their own face on, or be inspired by something they’ve seen.

Once they’ve finished making the mask, they can hold it over their face to show it off, or pack elastic and scissors to attach it.

Felt stickers

Preschoolers love getting creative with felt, but trying to transport the contents of your craft box is hardly ever practical!

So this fun On The Go Felt Activity Craft Set from Melissa & Doug comes with instructions, pre-cut shapes and lots of chance for younger kids to get creating.

Busy Bags

Make busy bags for the kids to play with that include different items such as buttons, pipe cleaners, and other simple craft materials.

They can get creative with these interesting items – and stay busy!

Lacing cards

A great one for toddlers and preschoolers, these lacing games can help improve their fine motor skills.

My daughter entertained herself along a lot of the Pacific Coast Highway with these Galt First Picture Lacing toys, or try these Very Hungry Caterpillar lacing cards.

Sensory boards

Make or buy sensory boards, for another road trip activity that’s perfect for younger children – this can also help improve their fine motor skills.

This travel sensory board is a good option for something portable.

Multiple colorful plasticine balls arranged in a line against a white background - Play Doh is a fun but messy option if you're looking for road trip activities for kids

Play-Doh

Not one that will appeal to all parents (especially if you’re the one clearing up squashed Play-Doh) but if your kids are older, or if you have a bit more space in a campervan or RV, this is definitely something to consider.

To minimise the mess, add plastic trays for your children to place over their laps, as they create different shapes and objects using their clay. This Play-Doh starter set also comes in its own case.

Silly Putty

For a simpler back-seat alternative, Silly putty is another fun product to let the children use, and a great sensory activity.

Blow Bubbles

Got the windows down? Grab mini bottles of bubbles and let the kids see who can blow the biggest ones. – definitely not at the driver though!

Make candy necklaces

Provide the thread and whatever sweet treats your kids are going to string onto them – they can see what tempting creations they manage to put together.

Just plan the ground rules about eating the necklace before you start!

Make beaded bracelets

For older children, making beaded bracelets is a lot of fun and like candy necklaces, all you need to supply is the string and beads to keep them occupied and being creative.

This one is best when you don’t have younger siblings (especially aged under three) in the car, to avoid any chance of stray beads being swallowed.

Decorate your nails

Between the smell and the chance of bottles getting turned over, letting your kids paint their nails isn’t a great idea in the car – but there are other ways to get decorating.

Consider some packs of nail art decorations which can be applied to dry nails (or pre-painted ones if your kids are old enough) instead.

Magnetic Letter Board

The magnetic letter board encourages children to learn their letters, so it’s a fun way for younger kids to practise while you’re on the road.

There are also versions to help spell different words and make sentences as well once they’re older.

Activity book

Keep kids entertained with a set of puzzles. How about this road trip themed activities book, with everything from word search to mazes.

Or this Usborne Pocket Puzzle Book is easy to dip in and out of, and won’t take up much room.

Young kids sitting in the back seat of a car holding books with puzzles next to them - my tips for the best road trip activities for kids

Crossword Puzzles

Buy crossword puzzle books and/or print some of these puzzles at home before leaving for the road trip.

A good option for older kids, they’ll test your children’s knowledge while keeping them occupied and entertained for a while. You can also find simpler crossword books for younger kids.

Logic Puzzles

Challenge theme and get them thinking with a book of logic puzzles – Usborne has a great book of 100 Logic puzzles, or this Logic Workbook has number and word games in as well.

Hangman

You can’t go wrong with a game of hangman – either break out the paper and pencils again, or magnetic letter boards will also work.

Tic-Tac-Toe

Who doesn’t enjoy a good game of tic-tac-toe? Let the kids play together in the backseat to see who will win the most times!

All you need is paper, pencil and patience!

Battleships

Make life easier by printing off the grids before you set off, although if you’re looking for a road trip activity for kids to keep them occupied a bit longer, drawing the lines is a bonus!

Just make sure you agree the rules first – the version we play has grids that are 10 x 10, and have two single-square submarines hidden as well as the aircraft carrier, battleship, cruiser and destroyers.

Printable road trip games

Find and print some easy road trip games that will keep the entire family entertained while out on the road.

There are lots to find online which you can download and print out before you set off, as well as quizzes and other activities.

I Spy

Get everyone involved in a game of I Spy, where you can try to guess what your children have spotted while passing through different areas on the road trip.

With younger kids, try spying something of a particular colour rather than needing to spell the word out.

Or for a twist on the original version, this I Spy game sees everyone drawing cards and having to spot the items in your hand to win.

Mother and daughter's head peeking out of a car window with hills in the background - playing car games on a road trip with kids is a great activity for the whole family

Simon Says

You can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned game of Simon Says – as long as you can actually do the challenges while securely belted in.

Maybe not one for the driver, but it’s usually guaranteed to have everyone in the car laughing!

Memory game

Another one for everyone to play, to see who can remember each item as you work through the alphabet.

There are different versions with different themes, but our family favourite begins ‘I went to the shops and I bought…’ with each person reciting the whole list, before adding a new item with the next letter of the alphabet.

You can make it more complicated with older kids (our well-stocked imaginary shop has had everything from an angry asthmatic armadillo to a lemur from Lima) or simpler with little ones.

Would you rather?

Another classic road trip game where the whole family can join in – you could theme it around travel, around your road trip or just present each other with funny dilemmas.

Twenty Questions

Play a game of 20 questions! You could come up with a list of ideas to guess before you even head out on the road trip, or theme it around your route and destination.

Guess in 10

With only 10 questions to guess the country around the world or the US state, the Guess in 10 game a great brainteaser for all ages – perfect for adding some geography knowledge to a journey and a fun alternative to 20 questions.

License Plate Search Game

If you’re heading off on a US road trip, enjoy the license plate game. Ask your kid if they can find a license plate with a specific state on it! The game keeps them looking until they find it.

Sign Search

Play a sign search game where the kids will look for specific signs, such as stop signs, one-way signs, and more.

Travel Bingo

Play games of travel bingo in the car. You can find lots of free versions to download, so check online and print the cards out before you leave.

Play School

Let the kids take turns being the teacher while playing school on the road trip! It’s a silly and fun activity that younger kids will enjoy because they get to be in control for a bit.

Play figures/dolls

Whether you’ve got action figures, Barbie dolls or your kids’ collection of toy animals or dinosaurs, kids can use their creative side and imagination to create different scenarios.

Line of toy cars including campervan, Beetle and other vintage cars - playing with Matchbox cars is a great idea if you're looking for road trip activities for kids

Matchbox cars

You can never have too many cars on a road trip, right? These matchbox cars are small enough to grab a few, and let your kids race them, add them to the fantasy word with their toy figures, or maybe even create an imaginary road trip for themselves.

Card Games

If you have a deck of cards, there are so many family card games you can try depending how much space you have – everything from Snap and Go Fish to Crazy Eights and Speed, and much more.

Travel board games

Check out travel size versions of different board games as another way for the kids to occupy themselves.

This one does take more space, but you can find options like this magnetic travel Checkers/Draughts game.

Check out my pick of some of the other top games for travel with kids, including travel board games

Connect Four

Connect Four is another easy game to bring along for the ride and you can get travel Connect 4 versions as well.

Guess Who?

If you’ve got two kids who’ll play with each other, a game of Guess Who is also a great one, with plenty of different faces to guess. This Grab and Go Guess Who? will take up less space than the standard game.

Have a sing-along

Whether it’s nursery rhymes for little ones, the soundtrack to their favourite movie or tunes you can all belt out as you drive, you can’t beat a road trip singalong.

You can even make your own road trip playlist before you set off with a few karaoke classics included.

Create silly songs

Even better, get together to create your own silly songs to sing throughout the journey – maybe inspired by something along your route.

Seek and Find books

Pack a few seek and find books – again, there’s plenty of choice depending how old your kids are – and set them to look.

These books will keep them searching for different items for hours.

Read a book

Let each child pick out a book that they’ll read during the road trip as a great option when you want to have some quiet time in the car.

If they suffer from travel sickness, an audio book is better though.

Boy smiling with headphones on while sitting in the back of a car - the best road trip activities for kids, including audio books

Listen to an audio book

Another of our personal favourites, and a great option if your kids suffer from travel sickness.

We’re signed up to Audible which has a huge choice: just make sure you download the story before you set off, in case you run short of reception (or data!)

If you can find something the whole family enjoys, that’s ideal, but otherwise get them set up with headphones so you don’t all have to listen to the same story.

If they’re used to falling asleep to a bedtime story, it’s a good way to help them doze off in the car if you’re driving late as well.

Watch a movie

Use a portable DVD player to play a movie that the children can watch and enjoy when they’re on the road.

If your kids suffer from motion sickness, these may not be the best option, or limit it to a couple of shorter cartoons rather than a full movie.

Phone/Tablet Apps

If you’re happy for some electronic entertainment, there are educational games and apps galore to keep your kids occupied.

Snack time

While it’s not precisely an activity, providing the kids with snacks to enjoy is a great way to keep them entertained for at least 30 minutes.

If you’re planning a road trip with kids, check out my tips on the best road trip snacks for kids and more advice on packing for a road trip with kids

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission. All opinions on the best road trip activities for kids are my own (and my daughter’s!)

Images courtesy of Depositphotos

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