LOOKING FOR SOME GREAT ROAD TRIP ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS? Look no further, we’ve rounded up some of the best tried and true activities that will keep kids engaged and occupied while on a road trip.

Road trips are a great way to travel as a family but they can also be stressful if you’re travelling with kids. The constant “are we there yet?” and “mom, I’m bored!” add to the strain of spending hours behind the wheel, but happy and occupied kids mean a happier trip for everyone!

With these great road trip activities for kids, you’ll be sure to keep the kids occupied and the whole family will have an enjoyable road trip.

Road Trip activities to keep young kids occupied

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My boys have been taking road trips each summer since they were infants. The first year, the road trips were fairly short but each year since we’ve gone a bit longer and even managed a 3700km road trip at the end of last summer.

We’ve also done a few road trips while we’re travelling internationally, and let me tell you, those are a bit more challenging as we have minimal things and activities to keep the kids occupied.  

Most of the road trip games and activities that we have listed here can easily be prepped or gathered with things you probably have around the house. But if not, most can be found at the dollar store or on Amazon.

Keep this list handy, prep a few activities before you go and keep a few as backup if you need it!

Here’s our favourite tried-and-true road trip ideas and activities for preschoolers and young kids.


Best Road Trip Activities for Kids

Books

We love to read anytime, the boys included, 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 awhile and include some favourites as well!

Wikki Stix

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

They’re these bendy little sticks that can be used to make anything! Shapes, letters, objects, the list is endless.

They’re 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 little lap tray or placemat in the backseat and then create away!

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 paint brush so no chance of spilling and kids love how the pictures get ‘painted’!

Dry the pages out and you’ve got a new set for tomorrow’s time on the road.

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 Dr. office.

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!

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!

Magnetic Drawing Boards / 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, kids also have more room to draw pictures or add stamps to their drawings.

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 either on small flash cards, popsicle sticks or any small piece of paper and let them make words.

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.

Magnetic Letters and word list on a magnetic cookie tray.
Magnetic letters are a great road trip activity.

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 popcorn words, family names or other words in the car.

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

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

Podcasts

Podcasts are great 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!)

Once we discovered them, they’re a must for any road trip. We usually listen to one or two episodes at a time, then change to a different road trip activity.

Here’s some great entertaining podcasts for kids, from preschoolers to young kids, even some for toddlers.

Read more | The Best Podcasts that Young Kids will Love

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 love!

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.

My guys like to use cue cards, where they can draw a picture of what they did the day before and add a sentence or label the picture.

Then we put these cards into one of those small photo albums so they can look back on what we did on our family road trip.

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

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.

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!

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.


Other Great Road Trip Activities for Kids:
Minimal Prep but Parent Interaction

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.

**FYI – if your kids are still rear-facing, it doesn’t work as well! Once they are turned forward facing, it works WAY better.

I find it’s better to find something that’s moving the same speed as you (something in the next lane), but something along the landscape passes too quick for some kids.

Scavenger Hunt

There’s some great free road trip scavenger hunts on Pinterest, or you can make your own.

Generic ones are great, as they’ll work wherever you are headed! (Think bridge, black car, police car, gas station, things like that).

You can even laminate them and use them for multiple trips!

Guess the Song

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

Someone hums a song and others (the kids) have to guess it.  

My attempts 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, or someone in the front (not the driver!) can keep a count for everyone.  

Guess the Number

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

For younger kids, have them guess a number between 1 and 10, 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.

I hope you find some of these road trip activities useful! Have an awesome road trip and let us know in the comments if you have any other suggestions!

The Best Road Trip Activities for young kids.

For more ideas and inspiration on taking road trips with kids, be sure to check out these posts:

9 Comments

  1. This remind me of a post I did, great tips. I’ve never hear of wikki stix, they sound like fun. Traveling with your kids, you definitely hear “are we there yet”. Thanks for the post.

    1. Wikki Stix are great! No mess, easy to use and SO many possibilities…..

  2. These are great ideas! I especially love the idea of using a cookie sheet for a magnet board! I think we will have to try that. We love books, water wows, workbooks, and snacks, snacks, and more snacks, too! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Cookie sheets work for little lap desks (colouring or art) or even to catch snack crumbs! They live in our car now!

  3. these are great tips! I always make sure to bring my kids favorite toys, music, and extra snacks. We also love playing I Spy!

  4. Wow!! Love all of these tips. I was like Wikki Sticks!? But I remember them from school! No road trips for us yet but I will keep this for when we do. Magnets was my favorite thank you so much!

    1. Yes, Wikki Sticks!! I’d forgot about them too until my kids started getting to the age of hands-on stuff. They’re great!

  5. I like this, makes me miss my nieces and nephew. Its good that we encourage kids with real interactions and lessen handling ipads. That’s what I notice nowadays…

    1. That’s my feeling too!

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