My husband has a lot of fond memories of taking road trips with his family when he was a kid. They drove to the Oregon Coast, Banff, Yellowstone National Park, Maine, Jasper… You name it, they did it. And he can’t wait to replicate these memories for our daughter, even though I’ve explained a million times that I refuse to take another road trip after this happened to my family when we drove from Singapore to Malaysia in 1985.
I still shudder when I think about it.
But he’s pretty convinced we need to show our daughter the world from the comfort of our tiny little sedan, and, being the organized and amazing mother that I am (BAHAHAHAHA!), I’ve already started collecting ideas for activities that will keep her occupied while I hyperventilate about public restrooms in the front seat.
And since the warm weather is (finally!) upon us and I know there are a lot of other moms out there who are desperate to find road trip activities for kids that don’t involve electronic devices, stickers, play doh, and singing, “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” for 10 hours straight, I decided I would share my list with you.
I also wanted to share 3 fabulous kids activities books that will give you HEAPS of fun activities to do with your kids when you get to your final destination (or while you’re hanging out at home!). They’re available for purchase at Barnes and Nobles and Amazon, and I’ve included an Amazon affiliate link to each below in case you’re lazy like me and prefer to make your purchases online!
101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever! by Holly Homer and Rachel Miller
The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments by Holly Homer, Rachel Miller, and Jamie Harrington
150 Screen-Free Activities for Kids by Asia Citro
And now for those road trip activities…
1. Pack a few washable dry erase markers and a glove and let your kids go wild with this fun Dry Erase Backseat Activity!
2. Make one of these awesome DIY Clipping Toys ahead of time. You won’t regret it!
3. Grab an old wallet, a few expired gift cards, a wad of Monopoly money, and anything else you can lay your hands on and make a Busy Wallet!
4. My daughter is too young for this now, but you better believe I’ll be bookmarking this Travel Timeline idea for when she’s older. It’s pure genius!
5. Stop off at Walmart, buy an industrial-sized pack of pipe cleaners, and let your kids go crazy with a little pipe cleaner fun.
6. We all know busy bags are an amazing way to keep kids occupied, but when it comes to knowing what works in the car, Chasing Cheerios has you covered!
7. Pick up some gel window clings for your kids to stick on the windows. Never heard of them? They are AWESOME and they go on (and come off) very easily. You can find them at Walmart and Target, or, if you have some time before you travel, you can make your own with this Easy Window Cling Kid’s Craft!
9. Make up some of these AWESOME Road Trip Travel Trays.
10. A friend of mine always goes to the Dollar Store before a long trip, buys a bunch of cheap toys, wraps them up, and then lets her daughter choose a “gift” every hour they are traveling. She says it works like a charm!
11. If you’re the crafty type, make one of these I Spy Bags.
12. Play a game of 20 questions! Never played? All you need to do is think of a person, place, or thing, and let everyone take a turn to ask you a “yes” or “no” question until someone guesses what you are thinking of. It’s a fun and easy way to keep kids busy!
13. Get out the felt and make one of these fabulous Quiet Books.
14. Print off some of these fun and entertaining car games.
15. Make some of these amazing magnetic travel games.
16. Pump some kid-friendly tunes! Whenever my daughter reaches her saturation point in the car, I crank the CD, “Songs That Won’t Annoy Your Parents” by my gal pal Stephanie Sprenger from Mommy, For Real. A few of my friends own this CD, and all of us swear by it. You can order your copy RIGHT HERE!
17. Kids love pom poms, right? Well, why not make some of these magnetic pom pom activity boards to keep your little ones occupied?
18. If you’re traveling at night and you can’t get your kids to sleep, glow sticks are an awesome way to keep them (and you!) happy.
19. Stock up on stickers. Lots and lots (and lots!) of them.
20. Keep your kids busy for hours with this awesome Rainbow Rice Eye Spy Bottle!
21. Teach your kids how to finger knit. It’s easier than you think!
22. If you have older kids, print off one of these free printables by KC Edventures and play The License Plate Game.
23. This isn’t really an activity, but if you need an easy way to pass things back and forth in the car, you have to make this Car Pulley System I found on Kids Activities Blog. It’s absolutely brilliant!
24. Play one of these fun car games the whole family can enjoy!
25. Make a magnetic story board using pictures of your entire family!
26. Blow bubbles…out the window!
27. If you have a large van or SUV, why not make your kids a couple of these DIY Pool Noodle Pom Pom Shooters? Just make sure to pack LOTS of pom poms so you don’t need to keep pulling over to pick them up off the floor!
28. Grab an old paper towel roll, a marker, and a bunch of blank stickers and make one of these fantastic (and cheap!) alphabet sticker rolls.
29. Hit The Dollar Store and put together this easy Traveling Ticket Game For Toddlers.
30. Make a smaller version of this Mix and Match Monsters felt set.
31. If you have older kids, download the free Mad Libs iOS app before you hit the highway!
32. Spend some time browsing these amazing car ride activity set ideas over on Testy Yet Trying before you depart. You won’t be sorry!
34. Get out the felt and make one of these Pocket Sized Magnetic Fishing Sets so your kids can go “fishing” in the car! Make sure to make your fishing lines long enough!
35. Make one of these fabulous Road Trip Binders.
36. To avoid meltdowns when things drop on the floor out of everyone’s reach, why not make your own magnetic paper doll set?
37. Make these awesome road trip activity tables using cardboard boxes!
38. Surprise your little ones with their own personalized Road Trip Pillow Case and fill the pockets with toys especially for them!
39. Looking for a fun twist to your average game of car bingo? Try this Recycled Bubble Wrap Travel Game!
40. Unleash your kid’s inner Picasso with this DIY Portable Art Board!
41. I love this Pick-n-Go Kids Play Stove idea and I think it could easily work for long car rides. Just lay the “stove top” on your child’s lap and set the container of kitchen accessories on the seat next to her!
42. Create a race track for your child’s favorite cars and trains!
43. Attach some velcro to the ends of popsicle sticks and have a blast!
45. For LEGO lovers, make this easy DIY LEGO Travel Box!
46. Using a cookie sheet as a flat surface, give your child(ren) small jigsaw puzzles, set a timer, and see how quickly they can put them together!
48. Make some educational games, like these math and spelling magnetic boards! I love the race track board, too!
49. Keep your kids guessing with these foil surprise balls!
50. Make your own magnetic dress up game using pictures of your own kids AND of their own clothes!
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