Road Tripping: 18 Ways to Keep the Kids Happy

This summer many families are opting for road trips rather than air travel vacations. Road trips are fun and exciting, but…how to entertain the kids?

It takes a bit of planning and some ingenuity to solve the problem of what to do during those long hours of driving. It helps to prepare some games and activities ahead of time because you know best what your kids love to do and we all know it’s hard to sit still for long hours.

Here are 18 ways to entertain your young ones as you travel:

21 Questions

The person who is “it” thinks of an object—it can be anything in the world. The rest of the players take turns asking questions to narrow down the categories, but be careful, 21 questions can go by very quickly.

Color the Map

Print off maps of the United States. Have your kids look for license plates from each state and color in that state when they find it. Find a printable map online.

Gift a Day

One tried and true method is to purchase small gifts and toys ahead of time. Wrap them and number them—one for each day of driving time. They can either be distributed at the beginning of each driving day or at the end of one day to be used the next. It will give your kids something to look forward to.

Car Ride Bingo

Make some bingo cards ahead of your trip. Make a square grid with a free space here and there. Write in objects kids can find while looking out the car window. Be creative and include things like animals, vehicles, certain shapes, certain colors, or signs. Add at least one funny object.

Small Tins

Find small tin or containers and use them to store small toys for the road trip. You might include:

   • Crayons and sticky notes for hours of driving fun.

   • Tiny bricks to build small structures.

   • A Tic-Tac-Toe handwritten board with colored buttons to use as Xs and Os.

I Went to Town and I Bought…

Use the name of the city that will be your final destination of the day. The first player begins by saying I Went to (town) and I bought an apple. The next player has to say the same sentence, but finish it with an object beginning with the letter B. Can you make it to Z?

The Color Game

In this I Spy game everyone looks for vehicles that are the designated colors. Try using yellow and pink. Yellow could be worth one point and pink worth two. The first to spy the vehicles wins the points! Play up to a decided number—maybe 25 or 50. The winner gets to pick the restaurant for the evening meal, or perhaps gets a special dessert.

Magnetic Letters & Shapes

Find an old cookie sheet or other small metal tray and pack some magnetic letters and shapes. Encourage writing words that rhyme, words that are five letters long, color words, names, etc. Ask if your kids can make a picture that looks like an animal, a building, or a toy.

Drawing Books

Drawing books are a treasure trove for little ones. Try to find books that align with your kids’ interests. Step-by-step books make success just one line away.


Make or buy a travel busybag filled with small toys and games to keep your kids happy for many hours. You can buy these bags online or make one yourself! Get the kids involved and ask what they’d like in their bag.

Read Aloud Chapter Books

Bring along several really good family-friendly chapter books and read one chapter or more a day. Kids really look forward to hearing what happens next.

And Then…

Get creative with storytelling! The first person begins, “Once upon a time,” and tells as much of the story as they like. When it’s time to pass the story on to the next person, they finish by saying, “And then…” Then the next player continues the story until time to pass it on. And then…

Would You Rather?

This super-silly game can be a life-saver when the kids get restless, but be prepared for a lot of giggles. Try asking questions like, “Would you rather hug a pig or pet a snake?” Give each person several chances to come up with their own question.

Scavenger Hunt

Make or buy Scavenger Hunt cards. If you make the cards yourself, relate them to your route or final destination. Play individually or in teams to find the designated objects as you travel.

Sticker Book Fun

Time for a bit of quiet? Bring along several sticker activity books. Kids love them, especially if they are on the current topic of choice. Dinosaurs, superheroes, favorite movie themes—all of them have sticker books available and they’ll bring some quiet travel time when you need it.

Alphabet Game

Have your kids look for words starting with each letter of the alphabet—in order—on signs, billboards, or license plate covers. Consider having the whole family take turns as you go through the alphabet.

Name That Tune

One person hums or sings a few lines of a song, and others try to guess the title and artist. You could also make a playlist and have the kids take their best guess. For added difficulty, mute the song after the first 10 seconds!

Animal Name Game

One person names an animal, and the next person has to name another animal that starts with the last letter of the previous animal. For example, “Elephant” and next could be “Tiger”.

Here’s hoping your summer road trip is a smashing success and that you have wonderful hours of travel time filled with fun.