Occupied Road Trippin': 14 Activities to Keep Your Kiddos Entertained on Long Road Trips


Occupied Road Trippin': 14 Activities to Keep Your Kiddos Entertained on Long Road Trips


Time to face the hard reality. This virus isn't going away anytime soon and thus traveling as we know it is temporarily suspended. If you're like our family, you've been stuck in a holding pattern, watching the days, then weeks, then months slip by as you wait to regain your life. But, it has become evident that, the life we knew probably won't be back for a while. No worries.We are resilient, and we are adaptable. So we can't fly on planes, we can still road trip if done so safely.

We recently ventured off on a thirteen hour road trip to Colorado with our little tykes nestled snug in their carseats. But how to keep them occupied? The obvious answer is electronics, but the mere word is cringeworthy on a thirteen hour adventure. So, we came up with a plan of action. A schedule of activities to engage our kids on this arduous journey. The required components: must not take up too much room, bonus points if I can ditch it along the way, easy transportable. Check out our ideas for fun in the car on a long trip, and then let us know in the comments what your favorite road trippin' activities are.


Download the itinerary, obviously. But also take a quick glance at the suggestions below to see how to creatively incorporate each project. Also, I suggest investing in some form of a hard surface for many of these activities. This can be a simple white-erase board, or a fancy lap table. Choose what suits you.


Activity #1: Stickers

They're compact, they're easily discarded, they're sure to keep your little ones entertained for a while. We're talking stickers, here. But what to do with them? There are a few options depending on the age of your kids. For the littlest traveler, I like to draw circles on a pice of construction paper, give them the sticker sheet and task them with putting a sticker inside each circle. For older kiddos, I give them stickers, construction paper, and perhaps a crayon or two and ask that they create a scene with their stickers. (The downside of stickers being that obviously they are wasteful as you can't recycle most stickers, so something to keep in mind.)


Activity #2: Music Party

If you're like me, you really just want to be left alone with your book when engaging on a road trip. I mean, is it really too much to ask for my husband to drive me thirteen-plus hours and for my three small kids to sit quietly in the car, while I get lost in a novel? Yeah, it probably is. Though this is list is designed to give you some ample free time, you're still dealing with kids here. And kids have short attention spans and huge energy reserves that need to be tended to frequently. For 30 minutes, I suggest a kid-oriented car-dance party. Play some of their favorite songs and jam out with them. (Yes, you will have to participate. You're going to have to sell this one to your kids, and we all know, nothing is cooler to a young kid than whatever their parents are doing.)

Some suggested songs to get you and your little one moving in the car (Some movements will have to be modified for car purposes):

Shake Your Sillies Out

We Are the Dinosaurs

I'm So Happy

Follow Me

Boom Chicka Boom

Tooty Ta

Move and Freeze

Go Bananas

Simon Says

Let's Go Swimming

Jungle Boogie Dance


Activity #3: Play-Doh or Non-Drying Clay

Do not take this as a suggestion to give your child four different colors of play-doh and let chaos ensue. That is not what I'm suggesting. But, play-doh can be a brain-boosting time filler. Make or buy one of those really small containers of play-doh. Then allow your kid to create with one simple color. I usually let them free play for about ten minutes. Then for the older kids, I give them a task card, or just name a task if I don't want the extra fuss of the cards, and have them create.


Activity #4: Books

I do value a child's ability to sit and engage with a book, but this is definitely a learned task. If your child isn't used to quiet, "reading" time, start small, five minutes or so and grow.


Activity #5: Mazes, I-Spys, and Word Finds, Oh My

Free, printable, and easily discardable. These three are sure to keep your littles entertained, but the key is, keep them wanting more. It's like training a hunting dog. You don't throw the toy until the dog tires, you throw it three times and finish so the dog is eager to participate the next time you decide to play with him. Don't let your kid do mazes until they say they're done, you decide that, with the goal of leaving them eager to try it again next time instead of bored. I've included links for each, but a simple Google search will yield plenty of extra results. When working with younger kids, the word finds are still doable, just accommodate. Have them search for a circle letters instead of words.


Activity #6: Puzzles

Do not bust out a 100 piece puzzle. The agony of the inevitably lost piece will completely ruin the experience, but for the younger kiddos, a nice travel challenge can be to assemble a 12-40 piece puzzle on their lap table. We usually pack each kid one puzzle and then they switch. Kids have no problem doing the same puzzle over and over, so you really don't need more than the one.


Activity #7: Coloring

A classic. But the real tip here is, don't bring the whole coloring book. Rather, rip out a few pages to bring in their travel bag and give them one at a time. These are easily discarded or recycled after.


Activity #8: Free Play

According to the research and experience of the Danish people, there is no greater brain-boosting activity for a child than allowing them to play freely. While this is definitely not going to entertain them for thirteen plus hours, they will savor the chance to play with their toys for a period of time. I allow my kids to bring a few, select, small amount of their favorite toys to entertain them for this unstructured period of time.


Activity #9: Audio Books

If your up for it, lend your own voice, if not, jump on Youtube, Hoopla, Overdrive, or any other website hosting free audio books, or check one out from the library. Choose one together before the trip begins and prepare your kid for what they will encounter with the story. Really sell it, so that when you announce it's audio book time, they are ready and engaged.


Activity #10: Portable Lego Pouches

I am all about simplicity and things that I can ditch along the way, so when I do bring something that is sticking with us for the entirety of the trip, it better pull its weight in keeping my kids entertained. Legos are a gold mine. Only recommended for older kids, obviously. Invest in one of those green lego bases, then purchase your kids a new small lego kit that can assemble for the first time on the trip for the first time, and then play with for the rest. I recommend a small pencil bag to store the pieces.


Activity #11: White Erase Boards

Disclaimer: If this gets on your child's clothes, it won't come offs o proceed with caution. Our travel packs have a built-in white erase board, and I swear it is one of our kids favorite things to play with. We give them a marker or two and a small rag and let them create.


Activity #12: Paper Tangrams

You have two options here. The first is the traditional tangram route, which is awesome and fun. Bring real ones or use the provided link for paper ones that you can easily recycle afterwards, or....give your kids a bunch of shapes, a whole piece of paper, and a glue stick and see what they create on their own.


Activity #13: Magnet Boards or Felt Boards

I am not a huge fan of magnet boards. Honestly to me, it has a very small return on investment. It takes space, I can't ditch it along the way, and my kids don't spend much time on it. I know it is listed as a staple for many other parents for their road trips though, so I have included it. If you do decide on this, I recommend a learning activity with it, such as magnetic numbers that need to be placed in order. Or sight word cards that they have to recreate. Otherwise, I assure you, your child will tire of the board in a few minutes.


Activity #14: Pipe Cleaner Bracelets

Take a pipe cleaner and a few plastic beads that you have stored neatly in a tray and allow them to string them on to create their own bracelets. Not only is this great for tactile development, but you can easily take it apart and allow them to start over on another leg of the trip.


Quick Suggestions: Boogie Boards, Washable Window Pens, Water Wow, Travel Games, Coin Rewards for completing activities that they can then spend on a souvenir of their choice.


Throw in a few snack breaks, nap breaks, and your occasional electronics here and there and you're good to go. So get out there and explore life!

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