Most schools are out for the summer and families are going on road trips! Kids want something fun and engaging to do while riding in the car. Sure, our kids can watch movies in the car. However, the activities below go beyond that. They will exercise your child’s creativity, curiosity, and engage them.

This post is fulfilling my best friend’s request to write an article on Fun Road Trip Activities for Kids and it could not have come at a better time.

All of the activities below have been used to keep my son busy during road trips. I hope you find them helpful!

Let’s get started!

Association Game

The Association Game involves naming objects or people in the same category. The categories may include the following…

  • Animals
  • Food
  • Colors
  • Numbers
  • Shapes

Here’s how to play the Association Game…

  • Name a category like animals
  • You may begin by naming an elephant
  • Your child will name an animal
  • Keep alternating by naming animals until you both can’t think of anything else to say.
  • Play the game again with another category.

Paint by Sticker Books

I first discovered the Paint by Sticker Books at Chick-fil-A. This book came with my son’s kids meal. He liked it so much that I ordered one from Amazon. It is great for when your child needs to wait for long periods of time. Below is how it works…

  • Find the sticker.
  • Peel the sticker.
  • Place the sticker.
  • Then a colorful picture will appear.
My son doing a Sticker Page of a Giraffe.

Finish the Story

This is a great activity to encourage creativity, literacy, and getting kids to think on their feet.

  • Begin telling a story.
  • Then have your child tell the next part of the story.
  • Next, have another family member add on to the story.
  • All family members can contribute to the story.
  • Have your child end the story.

Play the Shape Game

This is a great game to get you and your child’s creative juices flowing. Click here to learn how to play.

Word Searches and Puzzles

Words searches and puzzles are great for word and pattern recognition. They are fun and will help your child learn new vocabulary words.

Water Wow Books

Water Wow books provides mess free painting for kids. It includes reusable pages and a refillable water pen. Your child will see vibrant colors appear at each stroke. My son loves these pads. His favorite themes are Alphabets, Numbers, and Farm Animals. Ensure to fill the pen with water before your trip.

Learning Apps – Pbs Kids

Playing Educational Apps in the Car is a fun and productive activity for kids. Below are some of the apps we like…

  • Pbs Kids Games
  • Crosswords for Kids
  • Paper Punch Party

Doodle Pad

My son loves the Doodle Pad. It provides a way for children to do unlimited drawings and writing with its convenient erasable feature. It has kept my son occupied for long periods of time during road trips. Another type of Doodle Pad we use is called the Boogie Board.

My son wrote “So Fun” on his Doodle Pad.

Paper and Pen

Bringing paper and washable crayons or markers provides endless activities. Do the following activities and so much more…

  • Play Tic Tac Toe
  • Play Stand Man – It is like the game, Hang Man, but we draw the man standing instead of hanging
  • Write letters and Numbers
  • Write a short story
  • Draw pictures

I Spy Books and Game

I Spy is a wonderful game to play with kids. It helps them learn about new objects and vocabulary. I Spy is a guessing game where multiple people can play. One person will pick an object and provide a hint. The other players will use the hint to guess what object the person has picked. You can get I Spy books from your local library.

  • Try to find objects with your child. It is better when more people are participating.
  • Once you and your child find an object, encourage each other to use directional language, like above, below, and beside, to explain how you found it to the other person.

Flexi Rods

Flexi Rods is a product that women use to make their hair curly. I had some in my closet that I was not using. One day, I decided to give one to my son to bend and twist in order to keep him still during diaper changes. He has bent the rods into letters, numbers, shapes, and still plays with them to this day. Warning: Be careful because there is wire inside flexi rods. Please watch your child at all times.

My son made the alphabet with flexi rods.

Threading Toys

Threading toys are great to help develop a child’s fine motor skills. Children have to use the pincer grasp to thread beads on the string or to thread the string in a hole. The pincer grasp is what children use once they start writing. It will keep kids busy and focused.


Tangram is a puzzle that comes with seven flat shapes called Tans. A child can put the shapes together to make various images such as animals, other shapes, and people. We have a travel Tangram that we use on road trips and it has helped my son with spatial awareness and problem solving.

  • Use the shapes to make various numbers and animals
  • Make abstract art with shapes while you are on a road trip or waiting at the doctor’s office.
My son made the number six with tangram shapes.

Spot the Object

Children don’t have to be in school or at home to learn colors. It can be done anywhere. Try these activities below…

  • While you are on a road trip, pick an object you will identify such as a rectangle.
    • Identify with your child the rectangular signs, road markings, and the shape of traffic lights.

Are we there yet?

Has your child ever asked you “Are we there yet” while taking a trip? Use everyday math to answer this question.

There are two ways to do this. One way is with time.

  1. Let’s say your family takes a trip that will last one hour (60 minutes) to get to your destination.
  2. Just before leaving for your trip, show your child the time.
    • Let’s say you are leaving at 4:00pm.
  3. Tell your child, you will get to your destination when the 4 turns into a 5, which is 5:00pm.
  4. Check in with your child every 10 minutes and do a countdown.
    • For example, at 4:10pm tell your child you have 50 minutes to go.
    • At 4:20pm tell your child you have 40 minutes to go.
    • You can also do this every 15 or 20 minutes if you like. 
  5. This helps to decrease the constant asking of “Are we there yet?”
  6. If you stop to use the restroom, explain to your child that this will add time on to the trip. 

Another Way to do this is with Landmarks

  1. Let’s say you are driving on the Interstate and you are on Exit 1 but your destination is near Exit 20.
  2. Tell your child when you get to Exit 20, you will be at your destination.
  3. Pinpoint every 2 or 5 exits until you reach the end of your trip. 
  4. Have your child identify the Exit Numbers.
    • For example, ask your child to tell you when you have reached Exit 4 and then Exit 6.
    • You have just created an important task for your child. 
    • They are helping you navigate and they can sense how long the trip will be.
    • This is also helping with number recognition!

Have fun with these activities!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

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21 thoughts on “15 Fun Road Trip Activities for Kids

  1. Wow, these are some great activities! My 1.5 year old might be a little young for some of them but for a family who road trips in the car, these will definitely be used in the future. And water wow books look amazing! Never heard of them before and now they’re on my wish list!

    1. Oh wonderful! I am happy you found this helpful! Thank you for your comment!

  2. I live in Southern California where the traffic makes pretty much every trip a road trip. My kids get bored in the car. So I will try every one of these games. Thank you.

  3. We went on long road trips every summer as kids and I wish some of these had been around when I was younger! I have never heard of Tangrams, but that looks like a great puzzle! I will check that out!

  4. These are great ideas for road tripping with kids. We have a 12+ hour drive on the agenda in a few months and I’ll definitely be circling back to some of your ideas to keep the kids entertained (or at least not miserable!) in the car. Thanks!

  5. I have never heard of Water wow books and tangrams. We will be making multiple road trips this summer and these are great ideas and alternatives to tablets and DVD’s.

    1. Thank you Felicia. I am glad you found this helpful! Thank you for the comment!

  6. This is really important! you really need to keep kids busy esp on the road to avoid tantrums and other less fortunate events lol. These are awesome tips!

    1. Thank you Mallie. My son really enjoys these activities. Thank you for your compliment.

  7. Thank you so much for these awesome road trip ideas! Will have to try a few when we travel to NC this summer. Traveling with kids is 100 times easier when they have things to do!

    1. No problem! I hope your kids like these activities. North Carolina is my favorite state!

  8. Trying to keep the kids from killing each other on the family road trips is always a challenge. We are always looking for new ideas to keep them occupied. We’ve tried everything from guessing games to the license plate game to letting them veg out on their electronic devices til they fall asleep. Haven’t tried a few of these though. Will give some of them a shot next time.
    Great article! Thanks for the tips

  9. This is perfect timing! I need all of the road trip ideas since we’re headed to NY from SC this weekend! Thanks so much for all of these great ideas!

    1. Wonderful! I am glad you like the list! I hope your kids like the activities! Thank you for commenting!

  10. Great activities! It’s so good to get the kids busy doing something that isn’t just playing with tech. I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I know I will be doing everything I can to find meaningful activities for them that are not tech-centered. Your idea with the hair curlers was so creative!

    Do you know the alphabet game? That was always my favourite roadtrip game as a kid. (I even made one of my walking buddies play it with me one afternoon while we were walking the Camino, haha!) You look around outside the car at your surroundings, and you have to find the letters of the alphabet, A-Z, in order. Shout out the letter when you see it (and where you found it, like what word it was in, on what kind of sign), and move on to the next letter. First person to get to Z wins! We always gave “flexibility” for the letter Q, meaning you could skip it and come back to it later, but you still had to find it eventually in order to win (licence plates were handy for these this letter, and also for Z).

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