This post contains affiliate links which help generate a small income for this blog.
Are we there yet?!?! The 4 words generations of parents have learned to loathe during a long family road trip. Seriously, even typing that gives me headache. Through our experiences traveling around America, we have learned it’s actually really simple to avoid hearing that phrase every 30 seconds. The key is to have a TON of kid friendly road trip activities lined up!
There are a gazillion different kid friendly road trip activities to choose from. This list is simply what has worked best for our family. These games are fun for both kids and kids at heart (like my husband and I). My favorite part about these activities is it doesn’t include any screen time. These are games the whole family can participate in and have a great time! Let’s dive in!
1. Scavenger Hunts
If you have read basically ANY of my other posts, you know our family loves scavenger hunts. They are simple enough for kids of all ages, portable, and engaging.
The wonderful world of Pinterest is jam packed with free printable scavenger hunts for all occasions. In fact, I have a whole board full dedicated solely to this activity. Click here to go to the board and start picking your favorites.
In the event you are a creative type and want to make a more personalized experience for your kids, you can make an itinerary scavenger hunt. Make a list of landmarks you know you will be passing along the way to keep your kids looking out the window. You can even include a little bit of history about each landmark.
2. Activity Books
Activity books are another of my personal favorite kid friendly road trip activities. I have seen activity books range from puzzles and mazes to stories and coloring books. My go to hub for activity books is Target because you can find them for super cheap in the dollar section.
For the creative bunch, there are a ton of ideas for homemade activity books online. You can use free printable pages from different websites and place them in a 3 ring binder. Make the book as big or small as you’d like depending on how far your trip is.
3. Good Behavior Goodie Bags
Goodie bags are a great way to encourage good behavior and treat your kids to new kid friendly travel activities. Simply gather some toys, snacks, and games from the Dollar Store and put them in a brown paper bag. After a set amount of time of good behavior, you can reward your kids with the bag.
This will not only encourage your kids to be on their best behavior, but it will give them something new to look forward to. If your kids are anything like mine, they can get tired of certain activities really quickly. Having a new toy waiting for them will keep the road trip exciting for them.
4. Alphabet Game
There are tons of versions of the alphabet game floating around out there. Our family’s version is to look out the window and name things that start with each letter of the alphabet. After the first person finds the letter A, they choose the next person to find B, and so on until we get to Z.
Another way to play the alphabet game is to take turns naming things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. You can use any word that pops into your head as long as it’s a real word that starts with your letter.
5. Cookie Sheet Activity Tray
The Pinterest Goddesses have really gone next level with this kid friendly travel activity! I never in a million years would’ve thought about this until I saw it on my feed.
One of my favorite cookie sheet activities is giving your kids magnetic letters and a deck of sight words. Let them spell out the sight words with their magnetic letters.
Another awesome idea is to paint the cookie sheet with chalk board paint and let your child use it to color on. For more ideas on how to use a cookie sheet for travel activities click here.
I think the best part of this activity is the cookie sheet doubling as a food tray. Whether it’s snack time or you stopped for some fast food, the cookie sheet will be an easy way to keep your car mess free. Talk about a win win!
6. Magnetic/Felt Board Games
As I mentioned in my rainy day activities post, our family loves a good board game. We used to think it was impossible to bring them in the car with us until we discovered magnetic and felt games.
The pieces stick directly to the board so you don’t have to worry about them sliding all over the place. Plus, most of the magnetic and felt versions of board games are already travel size which makes packing them up in the car even easier!
We have seen these games in the dollar store and dollar section at Target before. There are also a ton of homemade magnetic games you can make with Altoids tins. For more ideas on where to find magnetic games, click here.
7. Guess What Happens Next: Audio Books Edition
Sometimes just listening to an Audiobook can be really boring to kids. This was especially true for our kids because they like to look at the pictures. That’s when we decided to come up with a “guess what happens next” game.
To play, put the audiobook on and follow along with the story line. At any given time, pause the book and take turns guessing what is going to happen next. If anyone is able to guess correctly, they win a point. Whoever has the most points at the end of the books wins.
If you are new to audiobooks and don’t know where to start, you can sign up for Audible using this link.
8. Magnetic Puzzles
If your kids love puzzles, why not bring them along on a road trip?! A great way to make this a kid friendly road trip activity is to attach small magnetic strips to the back of each piece. This is an activity that would work well with the cookie sheet because it serves as a magnetic surface.
I would definitely recommend keeping the puzzles to 30 pieces and below. Although the pieces will be magnetized, it can be difficult to locate a tiny piece in a car. Plus, let’s be honest here. Ain’t nobody got time to attach 500 mini magnetic strips to tiny puzzle pieces.
9. License Plate Game
This was one of my favorite kid friendly road trip activities as child…and still as an adult. The premise is simple: try to find one license plate from all 50 states on your road trip. Whoever finds the most states by the end of the trip is the winner.
There are a few ways you can keep track of the states you have seen. The easiest is to print a map of the US and color each state that you see. Another easy option is to fill an Altoids tin with magnetic strips that have all 50 states on them. Each time you see a state, move its magnet to the top lid.
10. Chain Link Destination Countdown
This kid friendly road trip activity will take some planning ahead on your part, but it is still really fun. To make it, cut thin and long strips of paper and staple them together in a chain link pattern. You will have to decide what you want each link to represent and write it on either before or after assembly.
The most popular option I have seen is for each link to represent each hour you will be on the road. When you reach the top of the hour, have your child tear away one link. This way they have a visual representation of how far you have gone and how long you have left.
Another option is to make the chains represent landmarks you will pass along the way. When you pass the landmark, take its link off. Either option is a great way to provide your kids with a visual representation of how much time is left in the trip.
11. Road Trip Bingo
Similar to scavenger hunts, playing Bingo is a great way to keep the kids looking out the window. When you pass an object on your board, mark it off. The first person to make Bingo wins.
Pinterest is jam-packed with free printable road trip bingo boards. If you want to be more creative, you can print out blank boards and have each person fill in the spaces with what they think they will see along the way.
12. “Hey Cow”
So, I am a 29 year old adult who still shouts “COOOOW” every time we pass a herd of cows. Comment below if you can relate! The game “Hey Cow” is essentially making a game out of something I already do anyway.
Each time you pass a herd of cows, one person shouts out the window “Hey Cow”. Count how many cows raise their head or look at your car. After each person takes a turn, the player with the most head turns is the winner.
13. Lego Challenge Cards
To play this kid friendly travel activity, fill a pencil box with different Lego’s. On a stack of index cards, give your kid a challenge to build.
This can be a simple task like build two identical objects using 10 blocks or less. You can also draw up different patterns for your kids to build.
This will keep those little brains engaged and hands moving. If you’re not sure what kind of challenges to give your child, click here for some ideas.
14. Travel Journal
Travel journals are excellent kid friendly road trip activities for kids of all ages. These journals can be as simple or detailed as you would like.
For the simplest option, buy a journal and let your kids write about what they saw each day. For more detailed journals, there are free printable templates you can put together in a 3 ring binder. These give your kids writing prompts so they can record details about the weather, their mood, their favorite parts of the day, etc.
For younger kids that can’t write yet, you can print out pages that have images. Instead of having to write what the weather was, they can circle it or color it in. You can also add a sheet protector in the binder so your young child can collect things throughout the day (like rocks or feathers) and store them.
15. Story Starters
Story starters is kind of like the Audiobooks activity, except you create the story from beginning to end. Our favorite way to play is to use this free printable of story starters.
One person selects a story starter then completes the sentence. We go around the car in a clockwise order and each person adds a new sentence to the story until we have a complete story.
Our son is 3 now so some of the stories get downright silly and ridiculous. You will be sure to be laughing your head off by the end of the story.
16. Car Color Game
The car color game is another heavy nostalgia hitter for me. At the beginning of the road trip, everyone picks one color. In my opinion, the weirder the better.
Throughout the road trip, everyone tries to spot as many cars in their selected color. When you see a car in the color you chose, shout the color to let everyone know you see it.
Tally up each persons score as you go and whoever has the most sightings by the end of the trip is the winner.
17. Window Clings/Markers
This kid friendly road trip activity is cheap and effective (and who doesn’t love that!?). Pick up a bunch of packs of $1 window clings with all different varieties of creatures and objects.
Let your kids place the clings and draw on their window. Encourage your child to tell a story with the image they make. You can also do another group story telling game where everyone says one sentence to make a whole story.
Another fun idea is to hold contests to see who can draw the silliest face or make the craziest scene. The ideas here are really endless and to be honest, my kids look for any excuse to dirty up the windows! If you’re not sure where to get kid friendly window markers, click here.
18. I Spy
This is one of the oldest kid friendly road trip activities in the books! Much like bingo and scavenger hunts, I Spy is a great way to keep your kids eyes outside and off the clock.
I’m sure I don’t need to explain how to play. If you don’t know how to play, comment below and I’ll fill you in.
19. Where’s Waldo Books
Another oldie, but goodie kid friendly road trip activity. Yet again, I have been playing this game since I was a child and still enjoy into my adulthood.
These books are all over the place where books are sold. If you are lazy like me and like to order off Amazon, click here for some great deals on Where’s Waldo books.
20. Sing A Longs
When in doubt, sing it out!! Whether your kids are babies or teenagers, I guarantee they like music. Choose whatever music your family likes the most and belt it out! We do this EVERY car ride, not just for road trips.
That’s All My Kid Friendly Road Trip Activities
I hope this list of kid friendly road trip activities has been helpful! Some of these ideas are more obvious while others are a little out there. I hope you are able to build some awesome road trip memories with at least one of these games.
If your family has any special road trip activities not mentioned on this list, please let me know in the comments below. We are always looking for new games to play in the car.
As always, please share this post if you love what you’ve read or think a friend will love it! Don’t forget to follow me on social for some fun behind the scenes photos and stories. Subscribe to the email list below to stay up to date on posts and to get a free checklist for traveling with kids. Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our adventures out in Our Happy Place 🙂