Road trips with kids can be a fantastic way to create lasting memories, but it can also be a long and stressful drive when kids are bored and restless. Having some road trip activities for kids planned and prepped can make all the difference, and those hours on the road can be enjoyable for everyone.

We’ve been taking road trips since my boys were infants and I’ve picked up a few good activities and ideas over the years. During our longer road trips, like the three weeks we spent driving through Northern Ontario or the Eastern Canada road trip from Toronto to Halifax – which we’ve done multiple times now, I’ve discovered some fun car games and activities that keep the kids entertained and my sanity intact. 

In this post, I’ll share some of our tried-and-true ideas and road trip activities for kids that will keep them entertained in the backseat, making your journey an enjoyable experience for everyone.

⭐ Top Picks ⭐ 

2 – 3 Years: Busy Books, Water Wow, Magnetic Drawing Boards
4 – 5 Years: Wiki Stix, Road Trip Bingo, Sticker Books
6+ Years: Magnetic Games, Travel Journal, Plus Plus Blocks
8+ Years: Podcasts, Books to Read, Activity Books
All Ages: Snacks, Podcasts

Creative and Crafty Car Activities for Kids

Wikki Stix

Wikki Stix are a favourite in our family (and in many schools, too).

These colourful, bendable sticks are perfect for keeping kids entertained during long car rides.

Kids can shape them into anything from shapes to letters and numbers, really anything their imaginations dream up. It’s a great way to keep their hands busy and minds engaged without relying on screens.

Even better, they’re mess-free, reusable, and won’t break or tear apart (although you can cut them into shorter pieces with scissors). The stickiness allows the pieces to stick together, or to something like a tray, but it doesn’t transfer to anything else so there’s no mess left in your car. My boys use a cookie tray or placemat in the backseat and then create away! 

Plus, they’re easy to pack and don’t take up much space, making them a perfect activity for travelling.

Wikki Stix

Perfect for long car rides, Wikki Stix keep kids entertained and creative without any mess. Compact and easy to pack, they’re a must-have for travel fun!

Travel Art Kit

Travel art kits are perfect activities for the car as they usually come in a contained case, making them easy to store and travel with. Once kids are done with it, everything is put back in the bag and closed, or zipped up, keeping the backseat clean and organized.

We have this fantastic kit from Kids Made Modern, which includes a pad of colouring pages, plus crayons and markers, all in a small portable case. Unfortunately, they don’t make that set anymore, but their stuff is great and I just picked up this DIY Comic Book kit for the boys to use this summer.

There’s also some great art kits that attach to the back of the seat and fold down to make a portable desk surface for kids to draw on. This one easily clips around the headrest and folds down so kids can draw, then folds up and zips up, keeping everything contained inside when not in use.

Melissa and Doug Water Wow

I know what you’re thinking, water? In the car?

But these activity books are mess-free. The water goes in the refillable water pen so there’s no chance of spilling. Kids love how the pictures get ‘painted’ as the water reveals the colourful scenes on the page.

Once the pages dry out, the colours disappear and they’re ready to be used again for tomorrow’s drive!

Melissa & Doug Water Wow

Melissa & Doug Water Wow books offer mess-free, reusable fun that keeps kids engaged and creative on the go. Perfect for travel, they’re compact, easy to pack, and endlessly entertaining!

Colouring & Activity Books

Colouring and activity books are fantastic for kids of all ages. You can find them in all different kinds and sizes, catering to various interests and age groups.

When my boys were younger, they loved colouring, and small kits with crayons and themed colouring pads, like Paw Patrol, were a big hit.

As they got older, they preferred activity books filled with mazes, dot-to-dot numbers, and simple word searches. These books are perfect for road trips, providing hours of quiet entertainment that can be easily packed and accessed.

Reusable Sticker Pads

These Melissa and Doug sticker pads are a bit larger than some of the other activities, but they’re so great that it’s worth taking them along!

The stickers are easy to peel and reposition and they’re reusable, which makes them so worthwhile!

And like most Melissa and Doug products, they’re well-made and educational. After your kids use the stickers to make a scene, have them tell you a story about it! 

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pads

Endless creative fun with mess-free, repositionable stickers. Perfect for travel, these sticker pads keep kids entertained and imaginative on the go!

Pipe Cleaners

Similar to Wikki Stix, the creativity here is (almost) endless.

Let the creativity come from your child, or you can even give them challenges – make letters, shapes, objects, the list goes on and on.

Be aware that the ends of pipe cleaners can be a bit sharp though!

When the boys were younger, I would pre-prep the pipe cleaners by folding over the ends, just so they couldn’t poke themselves.

Road Trip Games for Kids

Road Trip Bingo

There’s some great free road trip scavenger hunts on Pinterest, or you can print this one.

Generic ones are great, as they’ll work wherever you are headed! (Things like a bridge, black car, police car, gas station, even cows and horses depending where you are driving).

But you can also make your own, especially if you know you’ll see some specific landmarks along the way. You can even laminate them and use them for multiple trips!

Travel Card Games

Card games are always fun, and when you can find travel card games for kids, it’s even better!

There are different options for travel card games, but we like this set of I Spy Travel Cards, where the different cards challenge little ones to find objects during the road trip.

There are also cards about listening for sounds, feeling bumps or even sniffing for different smells. It’s a great game that can be played with one player or multiple kids – or even adult passengers.

Magnetic Games

Anything magnetic is a lifesaver when you’re on a road trip. The odds of pieces falling on the floor are less when those pieces are magnetic! And they’ve come out with some awesome travel games in the past few years.

The boys got these magnetic games for their birthday and they’re great! Hangman is a classic and we can play using high frequency words, family names or other words in the car.

It’s an easy game to play with the boys when I’m driving and it’s also something they play with each other as well. There’s also a Tic-Tac-Toe, Go Fishing, Checkers and Bingo.

Quiet Time Activities

Books

My kids love to read, so books in the car are a given for us. In fact, half of the bin between the boys’ car seats is always filled with books.

Borrow some new books from the library or find some at home that haven’t been read in a while and include some favourites as well! 

Podcasts

Podcasts are great activities for road trips and make the car ride pass quickly. They’re an easy screen-free way to entertain your kids and provide some essential down time. (We use them for quiet time at home as well)

We usually listen to one or two episodes at a time as a bit of a break from other activities. Here are some great podcasts for kids of all ages, from preschoolers to young kids, even some for toddlers. 

Snacks

Snacks are important! Cranky, hungry kids are not fun, especially when you’re in the car with them.

Snacks for the car need to be portable, not too messy and still somewhat healthy. Some options that we like to bring are apple slices or other pre-sliced fruit, bananas, dry cereal like cheerios, granola bites or bars, homemade energy balls, apple chips and popcorn.

Read more | Healthy and Easy Road Trip Snacks for Kids 

Games and Building Activities

Lego

Lego has been a lifesaver on many a road trip.

It’s one of those things that can be used over and over again and keeps kids entertained for hours. And a small container to hold the lego in works best, as you won’t want loose lego in the backseat.

Metal tins or Tupperware work great, and you can glue a base plate to the lid, so the kids can build directly on the plate and avoid having pieces fall to the floor. When done, simply put the pieces back in and snap the lid on. 

Plus-Plus Blocks

We only discovered Plus-Plus blocks recently but they are amazing. Similar to magformers in that you can build with them, these blocks fit together to create shapes and structures.

They’re compact and easy to travel with, and come in convenient travel tubes or small containers. (Or you can take them out and put them in your own plastic container.)

Plus-Plus Blocks

Plus-Plus Blocks offer endless building possibilities with their unique, interlocking design. Compact and portable, they’re perfect for keeping kids creatively engaged during travel!

Magnetic Tiles

Magnetic tiles are another great activity for road trips.

We love the magformers, which come in different sets, but prefer the basic one for road trips. Kids can build a variety of shapes and structures and the strong magnets ensure that the creations stay together, even with the bumps on the road.

My kids use a cookie sheet to build on, and the magnets stick really well to them. And when not in use, the magnets stick together well and can be stored in a pencil case or plastic container. 

Magformers

These magnetic building toys are perfect for travel, as they’re easy to pack and provide hours of engaging, hands-on fun for kids on the go!

Educational Road Trip Activities

Travel Journal

If your kids enjoy drawing pictures or even writing short sentences, keeping a travel journal is a great activity to do in the car.

When we first started doing long road trips, the boys used cue cards, drew a picture of what they did the day before and added a sentence or label the picture. Then we put these cards into one of those small photo albums so they could look back on what we did on our family road trip.

Now that they’re a bit older, they have a blank journal to write an entry for every day, or every place that we stop at. It’s a great way to integrate learning into travel! 

Magnetic Letters

Kids love to play with magnetic letters. Give them a cookie tray and some magnetic letters (you can buy pick some up at the dollar store or make your own with some magnetic tape), print out some sight words on small flash cards, popsicle sticks or any small piece of paper and let them make words while you’re driving.

If they’re just still learning sounds and letters, they can simply play with the letters, or name an object as you’re driving and have them find the corresponding letter.

metal cookie tray with a box of magnetic letters, a yellow framed grid of sight words and a can of popsicle sticks with words written on them

Workbooks

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of workbooks in school but kids love them (when it’s their choice and not ALL they do)! You can find some in the dollar store or Amazon always has them as well.

Many, like these letter tracing ones, are pretty self-explanatory for kids, others may require a bit of reading from adults so check them out before you head out in the car. We also have these sticker workbooks that my boys loved around age 4-6. 

Ideas Perfect for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Small Toys

I usually pick up a new small toy before any trip, especially road trips, so the boys have something new to entertain them for a bit! The dollar store is great for these types of toys, like a small car, dinosaur or doll – something they can hold in their hands. We also bring a few from home, like trains or other cars and it’s amazing to hear the stories they’ll create in the backseat using these toys! 

Busy Binders

Busy Binders are designed to keep kids busy – hence the name!

You can put anything you like in here – there’s loads of ideas on pinterest – or you can make your own.

Print some pages from a workbook (or any worksheets online) and put them in a plastic sleeve inside the binder with a dry erase marker and you’ve got reusable worksheets. Add a pencil case that’s made for binders (with the three holes to fit in the front of the binder) and store pencils, crayons and dry erase markers there.

Little ones can still use these binders too – just adapt the activities for younger hands and minds. 

If you’d rather not make your own, there’s plenty of options on Amazon, like this Montessori-inspired busy board for preschoolers.

Toddler Busy Board for Travel

Lightweight and compact, and in an easy-to-carry backpack that attaches to the backseat of the car, this is a perfect activity to keep toddlers busy and entertained on long drives.

Magnetic Drawing Boards or Etch a Sketch

Another dollar store or Amazon find, these mini magnetic drawing boards are small, easy to carry around and great to travel with. Kids can draw whatever they like on the board and then erase it to create a new picture.

My guys first got a set when they were 2 and practiced drawing lines and basic shapes. They still used them at 5 and like to draw pictures or write words. At 7, they still use them occasionally to draw or to play word games.

A larger Etch-a-Sketch, or magnetic drawing board like this, is also a great idea. Although it takes up a bit more room while travelling, kids also have a larger area to draw pictures or add stamps to their drawings. 

Magnetic Drawing Boards

Endless doodling fun without the mess. Simply erase and draw again!

I Spy or Search and Find Books

These books are fantastic! There are some for every age and kids can do them independently. For younger kids, there are small Look and Find board books with pictures of things to find (favourites are the Disney themed ones – our Lion King version is very well used).

As the boys get older, they still enjoy these types of books but we’ve moved on to the larger ones (with paper pages) like this one, that have more items to find on each page.

These books are great not only for road trips, but anytime you have to pass some time, like waiting at a restaurant or the doctor’s office. 

Classic Road Trip Games – No Prep Needed

Guessing Games

The opportunities here are endless! “I’m thinking of something that is green, is a fruit and rhymes with bear”, or “I’m thinking of something that rhymes with…”, “I’m thinking of something that starts with….”.

You can tailor these games to specific situations and favourites in your family or you can keep it more generic. 

I Spy

This is your typical “I Spy” game. Spy things that are in your car, or on your route. I find it’s better to find something that’s moving the same speed as you (something in the next lane) or something that’s in the distance, but something close by along the landscape passes too quick for some kids. 

Pro Tip: If your kids are still rear-facing, this game doesn’t work as well! Once they are in forward-facing car seats, it works WAY better.

Guess the Song

I’ll be the first to admit that this is NOT my favourite game, but my kids seem to love it! 

Basically, someone hums a song and others (the kids) have to guess it. My attempts at this don’t seem to be too great and my kids usually come up with random songs, sometimes not even close to what I was singing, but at least they’re having fun! 

Car Colours

Everyone chooses a different colour (try the less popular ones, like red, orange, green) and then keep a running tally of how many cars you see of each colour.

Kids can keep their own tally (on those mini magnetic drawing boards!), or if there’s another adult in the car, they can keep a count for everyone.   

Guess the Number

This is one of those educational games that kids will love to play!

For younger kids, have them guess a number between 1 and 10, then whoever if the closest wins and gets to choose the next number.

For older kids, you can make it more challenging and have kids guess a number between 1 and 20, 1 and 100, or even mix it up and have them guess a number between 25 and 50 or whatever range you choose. This was one of my kids’ favourite games for a few years in a row, and it’s still going strong.


Tips for Organizing Road Trip Activities 

  • Use Storage Containers: Small plastic bins or tupperware are perfect for storing loose items like LEGO pieces, plus-plus blocks and small toys. They keep everything contained and are easy for kids to open and close on their own. 
  • Zippered Pouches and Cases: Colouring and other craft supplies, as well as small toys can be kept in zippered pouches or even pencil cases. These are great for keeping items together and preventing them from getting lost under seats or on the floor. 
  • Magnetic Boards or Cookie Sheets: These are always in the back of our car and are great to use for everything from snack trays to working, writing and playing surfaces. They provide a flat surface for kids to write or colour on, and the little edge of cookie sheets stops most things from rolling off onto the floor or seat. The magnetic material is also great for magnet letters or mag formers to stick to.
  • Use a Backseat Organizer: There’s plenty of great organizers, like this one on Amazon, that you can buy to hang on the back of the front seats. They usually have multiple pockets and sections to store books, snacks, games and other small items, making it easily accessible for kids (that aren’t in rear-facing car seats). 
  • Create a Grab-and-Go Box: Keep a box or bag with some activities and toys that kids can easily grab when they want to switch activities. We keep a box like this on the seat between the boys car seats, and then they can both easily access different activities. 
  • Rotate Activities: Especially if you’re heading out on a long road trip, be sure to have a few different activities available. Things like crafts, books and building toys can be rotated throughout the trip to keep things fresh and new for the kids.  

Final Thoughts: Best Kids Road Trip Activities

Road trips with kids don’t have to be stressful or overwhelming. With a bit of prep and a variety of family road trip activities for kids, you can turn long drives into fun and memorable experiences.

From creative crafts and building toys to classic road trip games and quiet time activities, there are plenty of options to keep kids of all ages entertained. Happy road tripping! 

pin for this image with text "best road trip activities you need for the next family trip" above a variety of toys and games, including a magnet tile ball, a magnetic erase board, wikki stix container, sticker pad, i spy travel cards, go fish deck of cards and magnetic hang man

For more tips and family travel inspiration, be sure to check out these posts:

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