Ideas to Entertain Kids on Roadtrips

I recently went on a six hour road trip to the beach with my 3 boys (ages 5, 3, and 1). I was nervous about making the drive by myself with the kids however some extended family member that we rarely see were going to be there, including my 88 year old grandma. Plus the beach with little kids is always a blast so I decided it would be worth braving the drive solo.

While packing for the trip I was concerned about how to entertain the kids in the car. We don’t have a DVD player in our vehicle or a portable DVD player so watching movies wasn’t an option. The CD player is jammed with pennies so books on CD or kid’s music wasn’t an option. My cell phone is about as basic as they get; it doesn’t have games, Internet access, or any other cool activities most people have on their phones. I honestly don’t even know what features exist but do know phones can provide entertainment for kids…well with the exception of my boring old cell phone. We don’t own any hand held game systems (are they even called that any more?). I also confess I don’t have an iPad, iTouch, or any other cool i-thingy that might be out there? No Kindle. No Nook….you get the idea.  Basically we were going have to rock this road trip old skool!

I packed a bunch of games and activities to keep them busy, happy, and entertained in the car. I put each activity in it’s own baggie so I could easily hand it to them while driving. When all was said and done, I had two kid’s backpacks full of activities. Before we left for the trip, I showed them their backpacks and explained how to play some of the games. Here are a few of the activities they enjoyed during the car ride:

  • Stickers! A random assortment of stickers and little slips of paper for them to put the stickers on is one of my three year old’s favorite lap games. He often plays with stickers while sitting in the jogging stroller. He usually sticks them all over himself as opposed to the paper, but hey whatever keeps him busy is cool by me.
  • Wiki Sticks! If you are not familiar with Wiki Sticks, they are a great road trip companion. They are long, thin colorful sticks (picture spaghetti noodles) that are coated with a waxy substances that makes them stick together. Kids can create just about anything with them. Or just wrap them all together into a giant ball like my three year old does.
  • Shoelace and Joe O’s (Trader Joe’s version of Cheerios) to string and eat
  • Dry erase boards and dry erase markers. I also included a set of alphabet cards to offer a more structured drawing/writing activity. They could pick a letter card and then draw a picture or write a word that started with that letter.
  • Post-it notes which are kind of a variation of stickers, but for some reason my kids really like post-it notes? We played a game where we would pick a type of vehicle such as red car or a motorcycle and then every time they saw that type of vehicle they would put a post-it note on the window. Actually my three year old just enjoyed sticking post-its to the window and could have cared less about what type of vehicle we saw, but the five year old enjoyed making a game of it.
  • Mini-ice cube trays, craft pom-poms, and plastic dollar store tongs. My three year old just enjoyed transferring the pom-poms with the tongs (and eventually just throwing pom-poms at his little brother) however I included number cards for my five year old. He would pick a number and place that many pom-poms in the ice cube tray until eventually the tray was filled. I also encouraged him to make color patterns with the pom poms.
  • Magnetic lap board and magnetic letters
  • Scissors and random slips of scratch paper to cut
  • Additionally I packed them some small toys that are easy to hold and manipulate in the car such as hot wheels, lego minis, army guys, etc.
  • And of course books! My kids are not independent readers so books with interesting pictures were most enjoyable. We have a set of children’s books from National Geographic that are perfect for looking at in the car. In addition to the amazing photography in them, they are lightweight, easy to hold, and easy to turn the pages.
  • What about the one year old? He mostly either slept or ate. He is still so young that eating a cracker takes him like 10 minutes and provides a great deal of entertainment value. Drinking from a straw is also a new fun concept for him, so a straw sippy cup provided endless amounts of fun for him. I also had some old magazines for him to rip up that he had a blast with. Additionally trying to grab at whatever his brothers had was a fun game for him. Of course the older boys weren’t crazy about that game. 😉


My car looked like this at the end of the trip

But spending time with family at the beach made it well worth it!



How do you entertain your kids on road trips? What fun activities do they enjoy?


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4 Responses to “Ideas to Entertain Kids on Roadtrips”

  1. Kelli says:

    Those are some awesome ideas! We are heading across the country this summer for a two week road trip, so I am going to need as much stuff as possible to keep my boys {almost 8, 6, and 3} entertained! I’m pinning this so I can come back and pack a few of these for our trip in May:)

  2. Michelle K says:

    Looks like my van on a regular basis.

  3. meg says:

    we used the roll of scotch tape @ 18 mos on the plane. worked like a charm! 😉