Long road trips may be boring for kids, but they can be a time to work on educational concepts or play fun games. Here are some ways to keep the kids entertained on your summer road trips.


LEGO Boxes

With the school year ending, you probably have a few plastic pencil boxes left over from the year. Clean one of them and place pencils elsewhere, or purchase a new one from a local office supply store. Purchase a LEGO base plate from a local toy store, or you can even order them from amazon.com. Size the base plate to the inside lid of the pencil box, cut with a utility knife and hot glue the plate inside the box lid. Fill the box with your child’s favorite LEGOs and let them build on the road!

Surprise Activity Bags

Kids love surprises, and this is a special way to countdown by city to the final destination. Take paper sacks or party favor bags and fill them with snacks, crossword puzzles, coloring books, card games, small toys and more. Label each bag with cities you will pass and hide them from the kids. For each city you pass, hand over the corresponding surprise bag. For older kids, you can even give them each a map and tell them to alert you when a city is passed.

Activity Binder

This is a great way to incorporate summer learning (and fun) into your road trip. Take a three-ring binder leftover from school or found at your local office supply store, and then purchase sheet protectors and dry erase markers. Print free activity sheets online (we found some great ones here) and fill the sheet protectors. These can include crossword puzzles, hangman games, reading charts, Sudoku, word sorting and more. If you are feeling creative, make your own versions of these sheets. Slide these into the sheet protectors and let your kids draw on them time and time again with dry-erase markers.

Next-Level I SPY

At some point we have all played the “I SPY” game. This involves passengers taking turns saying ‘I spy with my little eye something green,” or any assortment of colors. Take this classic game to the next level by making I SPY printables before your road trip. Print restaurant or business logos and glue them to a sheet of paper, or copy and paste logos onto a Word document. This can include McDonald’s, Waffle House, Sonic, Walmart, or any gas station. Set up guidelines between cities or make it a competition for the entire length of a shorter ride to find the logos. For younger kids, make a sheet including cartoon animals or shapes. You could include a cow, barn, hay or a horse (this may vary depending on where you road trip).


Number Game

Find the numbers 1 to 100 in order by looking at signs, monitors and objects. Each person is allowed only one number per sign or object. Whoever reaches 100 first is the winner. Variations: Instead of individual numbers, count groups of objects, like two stop signs, four barns or seven bridges. Or limit the searching to license plates: only numbers found on license plates count.

Guess What I Just Saw?

The person who is “It” must think of an object he saw along the road. He then gives a clue about the object while everyone else tries to guess what it may be. Time is up after two miles or two minutes and then it is someone else’s turn.

Alphabet Search

Look for the letters of the alphabet on signs, billboards and license plates. Each person must call out a letter when he sees it. Start with the letter “A” and continue through the whole alphabet in order. Allow only one letter per sign. The person who finishes the alphabet first, wins. Variation: Instead of looking for letters, players must find objects that begin with each letter, such as “ambulance” for “A”, “pilot” for “P” or “tunnel” for “T.”

License Plate Spelling

Designate a note-taker. Then ask everyone to call out ten license plate letters as the see them, while the note-taker writes them down. Then, working together as a group, try to make as many words as you can from those ten letters.

Odd-Even Plates

Designate one person as the time-keeper while two others play the game. One person calls out the license plates that end in odd numbers; the other looks for plates ending in even numbers. The person with the most plates in five minutes wins.

Are We There Yet?

Before you head out, choose a landmark or town that’s on the route you’ll be driving. Ask each person to guess how long it will take to arrive there. Write down each person’s guess. Watch the clock and see whose guess is the closest.

Silent Simon

Choose one person to be “Simon,” the leader. “Simon” performs silent actions like blinking or patting his stomach. Everyone else must copy these actions except when a car is passing. If someone copies the action when a car goes by, that person is “out.” The last one out becomes the new “Simon.”

Silly Suitcase

Choose a leader. This person pretends to choose an item from the family’s luggage. He must describe it using only mime while the other travelers try to guess what the object may be. The first person who guesses correctly gets to choose something else to mime.

–Justine Ickes

Kits and Toys

Crayola Color Wonder Stow & Go Studio

A great product to keep the car less messy, these markers only work on the pages that come with the kit. No more drawing on the seats or door, and the kit comes in an easy-to-carry case.

Make a Face Sticker Pad, Crazy Characters by Melissa & Doug

An extra-large, wild and colorful sticker book with over 160 stickers and five sticker sheets so kids can create crazy-faced characters.

Wikki Stix Travel Fun Kit

A portable way to enjoy the creative play of Wikki Stix – bendable, wax-infused yarn pieces that can be used again and again for kids to design all sorts of artistic scenes.

Other Ideas

  • Audiobooks– kids can listen to their favorite books over the speakers, and you might learn something, too!
  • Educational apps and shows– download educational games or TV shows onto your child’s tablet and make sure to bring a portable charger and headphones.
  • Whiteboard and dry-erase markers- kids will have fun playing teacher, hangman, tic-tac-toe or any number of games or drawings. Best part, kids can erase again and again.
  • Magnets and magnet boards—these are a great way for younger children to practice number, letter or shape matching.
  • Mad Libs game—this is a fun one for older kids and even parents. Take turns filling out the silly sheets to ultimately tell a funny story.

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