The best Road Trip Games for Kids. A fantastic list of ideas to help you this summer! Sooo road trip season is ahead of us and many of us can’t wait to get out there.. but a question my readers often ask me is…
Please do come back, as I will be updating this post regularly with more Road Trip activity ideas and resource links.
What should kids do on a road trip when bored?
Indeed! What SHOULD you do to help with that road trip boredom? What are fun things to do on a road trip? What are the tried and tested boredom busting road trip activities for kids?
Well. I went to my popular Kids Activities Group on facebook and got the low down. Summarised here for you. Let’s make this summer travel FUN!
Please take all the advice and thoughts here today with a pinch of salt – our kids are all of different ages so some tips may be more useful to some than others. You may also have adapt the trips and ideas to suit your child’s individual interests and needs.
To screen time or not to screen time whilst on a road trip with kids?
Let’s first get the elehpant out of the room: screens or no screens. This is a HUGELY divided topic among parents. Should you “palm” the kids off with movies and TV? Or should you stay firm and say “no” to all tech?
My personal view, is COMPROMISE. We are one the most screen free households I know (my son is 13 and we still don’t own a playstation or similar), we still only do “a movie” a week… etc. But road trips are something quite different. You ARE stuck on the road for very long periods of time, so I feel it is ok to incorporate screens. Just be clear how much screen time and “when”. So everyone knows and there isn’t constant whining about “can we watch TV yet”. E.g. you can allow one movie a day? Or you can use the screens for the last hour and half etc. Or in our case, screens where only allowed if the trip was longer than 2hrs…
Compromise, but make your own rules that suit you and yoru family. Then be clear about these rules and enforce them.
*Note – this may vary significantly on your child’s age. Younger kids may need to screen time at all.. or TONS of screne time, depending on personality!
Classic Road Trip Games for the Family
- I spy – we all know I spy (I hope!!). As with many games you can vary this up. Spy colours for younger children or spay “beginning with the letter..” for older kids
- The number plate game – as with many games there are variations on this! Pick and customise to suit your needs. E.g. pick a number between 0-9.. and see how often you can spot it on a number plate. Extra points for repeat numbers. Play “country” or state bingo – see how many different number plates you can spot from different states or countries. Older kids can play the word game – pick a number plate and try and come up with words that contain the letters on the plate. Or work your way through the alphabet by spotting the number plates following the ABC
- 20 Questions – again a classic game for a reason! A family favourite that is easy to play! Think of “something” (a famous person, an animal, a item). The rest of the plays have 20 Yes/No questions they can ask in order to find out what it is. E.g. “Is it a mineral?” “Is it a person?” “Is it big” etc
- The ABC Game – there are many variations of the ABC game. For example. Play the vegetable ABC game. The first player gives a vegetable with the letter A, then second a vegetable that starts with B, and so on. Alternatively, EVERYONE has to name a vegetable with the letter A before you move on to B etc. The words you are looking for can be ANYTHING – cities, vegetables, sports, famous people, animals etc When we play this, we usually help each other out and try and complete it as a family. Another variation is to work yourself through the alphabet – a bit of I Spy and the ABC game combined.. find something beginning with A, then B etc. Younger kids can do this with colours or shapes.
- Road Trip Bingo (see below for printables) – a straight forward, what can you see and tick off your list. There LOTS of Road Trip Bingo printables out there – from finding road sides to spotting animals to different makes of cars. You can always write your own list and kids simply tick off how many they can spot!
- The Goldfish Game/ The Monkey Game (ie quiet time) – the children make goldfish impressions, the first to talk looses. Or alternatively shout ” “Order in the court, the monkey wants to talk.” Whoever speaks first is the monkey. I do confess, I tried to play this with my kids MANY times.. but somehow they always seemed to know what this game was REALLY about.. ha! But even 3min peace is worth it!
- 3 Word Stories – My father was always fabulous at these. You give the story teller 3 words and they have to come up with a story that includes all three. You can play it with random words, or you can establish rules – e.g. a noun, a location and a verb. Totally up to you!
- How many will we see? Essentially a scavenger hunt game. This is a super simple game that we have played for years- how many <insert item> will be see before the next stop/ before our destination etc. Make a guess how many of the item you will see and then count them together. E.g. at Christmas we often count Christmas trees, in the summer, we count cows etc. The person whose original guess is closest to what you actually saw wins. We often do this on walks too (e.g. how many birds/ cats/ bees/ flowers etc).
- I am going on a picnic/ vacation/ I am packing my suitcase – and I am bringing.. each play ads an item in turn, but you have to repeat the full sentence. E.g. first player says: I am packing my suitcase and I am bringing my pink trainers, the next person says “I am packing my suitcase and I am bringing my prink trainers AND my fluffly llama” etc. First one to forget an item and you start again! You can also play this following the alphabet!
- Would You Rather Game – a simple game where a question is asked and participants have to answer. Often the questions have a dilemma of sorts.. but not always. Make your questions road trip related or related to what you can see. E.g. would you rather drive 1000 miles with a beach view or drive 1000 miles with a mountain view? Would you rather ONLY eat ice cream forever or never eat ice cream again?
We even popped 8 of these into our Road Trip Game Chooser printable:
Are we nearly there yet?
Here is a super fun idea from a reader of mine:
We were each given a roll of quarters and had to pay one quarter for each “are we there yet?” What we had left was ours to spend. ~ Lisa T.
Road Trip Snacks & Food
Back a variety of snacks – but make sure it isn’t sugar loaded! We love things such as pretzels and grapes. But do add the occasional treat.
Check out this list of healthy Road Trip Snacks from Koa Blog.
Road Trip Activities & Packs to put together
Here are some favourite classics that you can prepare ahead of time. We find having clear rules around those activities that involve devices (e.g. time limits or how far into the journey they get to use them etc) helps.
- Audio Books or children’s podcasts – these can be listened to individually or as a family
- Books – always good to read, so long as you don’t get car sick
- Download movies -as mentioned before, personally I feel it is fine to have SOME screen time on long journeys
- Download Educational Apps – why not, if they insist on ipad time.. why not make it educational. There are some great apps – e.g. it is a great opportunity to practice some times tables and help prevent some of that summer slide
- Create LEGO in a tin carry along cases
- Create travel play set
- Foldable paper dolls house
- Get hold of some sticker mosaic books – great for fine motor skills, fun to do and can keep them busy for a while
- Similarly invest in some puzzle books or search find books or sudoko – depending on your child’s interests and age
- Card games (uno is always popular and can be played with a normal pack of cards)
- Magnetic Travel Games – e.g. tic tac toe, draughts, backgammon etc
- Other favourite games include, Rush Hour, Wiz Kids, Professor Noggins Cards, On the Go Water Wow – I haven’t amazon linked them.. as am boycotting amazon these days (I still shop there, but try to do it less!).
- Cookie sheets + a set of magnets to play with
Last Minute Road Trip Printables
Didn’t plan anything (too busy packing, getting your work finished off, organising the cat sitter..) and are now panicking about how to keep the kids busy in the car?
Well, we have the list of traditional road trip games for you, that should most certainly help out. But I thought this additional list of road trip printables is super handy too:
- Simply PEN & PAPER for doodling, drawing and wriring – I used to get a notebook for each child at beginning of any trip. This helps prevent things going “flying about” or getting lost too.
- COLORING PAGES: Print a set of coloring pages and pop them in a folder with a zip lock bag of pens – e.g. here are some fun beach coloring pages, or flower coloring pages or check out our extensive collection of adult coloring pages here (great for teens)
- CAR BINGO PAGES – here is fun set of Bingo pages to download.
- Moms Minivan has a great set of printable car games – bingo, tic tac to.. you name it!