10 Road Trip Entertainment Ideas For Your Next Vacation

At the end of last summer I tried to come up with an estimated number of total hours my children spent in the car traveling. I don’t know the exact number I settled on (and I’m WAY too lazy to try to add it all up again!), but it exceeded 100 hours. Let me tell you- that’s a LONG time to be in the car with my two kids!

This summer, we will likely surpass any record we’ve previously set for number of hours in the car traveling. Although I’m excited, I’m also realistic. My kiddos will NEED some entertainment!

Let me pause for a second and acknowledge the obvious. We do use electronics (in moderation) when we travel. I’ve written about it and have recommend several different products. Incidentally, we’ve also taken completely electronics-free trips. I’m living proof that it can actually be done!

I will do a follow up post next week with some easy ways you can limit your children’s electronic time while traveling.

However, for now I’ll include my favorite electronics, as well as some other great ways to keep everyone occupied during a road trip. I try very hard to be intentional with the items I pack for lengthy travel. We certainly don’t need bulky toys that take up a lot of space or toys that have a million pieces. Inevitably, the pieces get dropped during the first hour and I spend the rest of the trip searching for them.

Also worth mentioning, when my children were smaller I packed all our road trip entertainment in a market basket that I placed between the two car seats. They were easily able to access everything with minimal assistance or problems. Now that they are bigger and capable of keeping up with their own stuff better- I typically pack them each a backpack with their own supplies.

Here are my 10 Road Trip Entertainment Ideas

  1. Electronics: I’ve already touched on this a bit. My children have a few devices that they are able to use sporadically during our travels. I think the most versatile one is the Kindle which they both use mostly for reading. They also enjoy using their Apple iPod to play games. We also have an old Apple iPad that we usually download a new movie (or two) on for each trip. One of the keys to using multiple electronic devices in a car is to remember to pack headphones!
  2. AudioBooks: Depending on the length of our trip, we try to listen to a couple family-friendly audiobooks. We’ve found that if we try to do too many audiobooks- everyone looses interest. For our upcoming trip we’ve purchased Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim TebowCapital Gaines: The Smart Things I’ve Learned by Doing Stupid Stuff by Chip Gaines; and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Just a word of caution…make sure you’ve researched or prescreened your book prior to listening as a family. One time we bought Old Yeller without thinking it through. It was not the most appropriate story for young kids!)
  3. Worksheets: I also love to bring a stack of worksheets for my kiddos to work through. Occasionally they get just bored enough to actually WANT to do educational work.
  4. Activity Books/Journal: Similar to the worksheets, I also bring sheets with fun activities. I typically buy books of crosswordsSudokuWord Searches, and mazes. Since that’s a lot of books to bring along, I just tear several pages out of each book. This gives kids a nice variety of choices. I also recently purchased travel journals for the kids to work on.
  5. Bop It: If you have a relatively high tolerance for annoying noise- I highly recommend that you travel with a Bop It! Admittedly, even I get sucked into playing with this toy. There is a mode where you can play it with multiple players and “pass it.” This works well in the car and causes no fighting because you’re just following the directions of the Bop It!
  6.  Paint Books: No, I’m not actually suggesting bringing paint in your car (in fact, just the thought makes me sweat!) But there are several cool painting-type activities that aren’t messy! My two favorites are Paint by Sticker and Water Wow! 
  7. CD: When we aren’t listening to audiobooks we love to listen to music. If the kids are using their electronics or busy with something else, Brent and I usually just pick a Pandora station to listen to. However, my kids are creatures of habit and they get obsessive about becoming familiar with songs. So it’s fun for them to have a new CD that we can play through several times on a trip. Our go-to CD purchases are Kidz Bop, but for our upcoming trip I bought The Greatest Showman Soundtrack.
  8. Manipulative Puzzles/Games: I struggled to come up with an appropriate heading for this category. Not really sure that describes it, but I’m talking about things like a Rubik’s CubeFind it Game, and WikkiStix. All of these are somewhat self contained and do not create any mess.
  9. Licence Plate Game: While you can easily play this game without anything official, we LOVE our Melissa & Doug Wooden Map version. The great thing about this one is that you can set it down and add license plates when you see them without risk of duplicating or losing track.
  10. Camera: When all else fails- or when the scenic views out the car window ARE the vacation- give your kids a camera and tell them to capture it! We are going to be testing out our new VTech Kidizoom Action Cams on our upcoming road trip. I have a feeling the kids are going to really enjoy using them while we drive!

You might also enjoy reading:

How To Plan The Best Road Trip

Ultimate Collection of Road Trip Printables 

Road Trip Math

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