We recently traveled to meet my husband at a base where he had been attending a few training schools, and oh, darn, it was on the beach! It was a road trip with kids where I had to handle all the prep and driving.

This 3-hour drive was considered a mini-road trip for us since we have also taken on a three day drive to visit family, and moved across the country.

I do not like just plugging my children into a device and isolating them from the ‘family’ dynamic even though we do use movies, sparingly, on the really long trips.

I tried to creatively come up with some activities to make the road trip with kids more engaging for my children while still allowing us to communicate on the drive and enjoy each other.

As a mom, ‘vacation’ does not quite have the same definition as it did before having kids.

I do not get time off from my job. However, I can try to focus more on making sure I am doing all I can to make the trip as organized and enjoyable as possible for my family which makes it more fun for me as well.

Try out some of these ideas on your next road trip with kids to ease your concern about ‘what to do next’ with your children while traveling.

1o easy road trip activities for kids with mom and kids in a car.

Toddler play and grow activity time overview. Click to purchase the 20- activity guide for toddler learning.


10 Easy Activities for a Road Trip with Kids

1.) Try lap desks

I know there are fancy lap desks that attach to car seats from kid product catalogs, but I picked up a couple of plastic lap desks from Michael’s (about $7 each).

These desks fit right over the arms of a booster seat.
With the desk, coloring, writing, drawing, puzzles and other games are easy to keep in front of your child. (If you have older children, a clipboard may work just as well if they can balance items on their lap.)
Alter puzzle pieces to make them convenient for travel with kids.

2.) Alter puzzles to take them along

Puzzles never travel well. The pieces fall out and get mixed up in the bag. Here is a tip to eliminate that chaos: Try placing a hook velcro dot on the back of the pieces and the loop dot in the cutout where the piece fits.
I did this for one puzzle and the pieces never fell out. It added a level of fine motor challenge as well since the pieces were ‘sticky’. This is also a great option for storing the puzzles at home.  No more pieces falling out of all the puzzles when they are pulled off of the shelf! These DIY puzzles are an inexpensive travel idea.


Tips for a road trip with kids: 10 easy activities and no electronics to keep the kids occupied and having fun.

3.) Make a dry erase scavenger hunt and coloring sheet

I simply copied and pasted some images found on-line into a Word document and typed labels under each image to add some print awareness/reading.

After sliding the printed ‘worksheet’ into a plastic sleeve, I had an instant dry erase scavenger hunt that my kids could use to mark what he saw as we were driving.

You can make a few of these and place them in a binder so that older children can be looking out for a larger array of items. I thought I would make a couple more to change out for each day of our 3-day drive.

Try to coordinate the images with the scenery of your drive so that they are applicable to each area of the country. (For example, I would not use a picture of mountains when I was driving through Nebraska.) The back side of the paper can be slipped into a plastic sleeve and used as a coloring sheet.  The artwork can be erased, and a new picture can be drawn over and over again!

4.) Speaking of dry erase markers-Draw on the windows!

There are now washable dry erase markers, otherwise this could get a little out of hand on the mess factor, but if you have a child who is very careful, you could let him/her draw on the inside of the window while they ride along in the car.
Keep a tissue handy for erasing (we always have a box in the car anyway, as I am sure many of you do as well) and your child can create over and over again. Trace the clouds, write letters, or just plain doodle.

5.) Make a large ‘I Spy’ bottle

We used a 2-liter bottle to create a jumbo-sized bottle for some ‘I Spy’ fun. I used simple things found around our home: a safety pin, crayon, pencil eraser, beads, small foam shape, coins, rocks, pom poms, pipe cleaner twisted into a small spiral, etc. You don’t need to go out and buy little do-dads. Check around the house: even a Lego brick, or a googly eye will work!


I had my son help me put the bottle together, and I took pictures of groups of the items that we put inside before they were added so I could create a worksheet as well.

(Copy and paste the pics of each group of items in the bottle into a Word document as shown for the scavenger hunt and print it out.) I slipped it into a plastic sleeve and my son placed an ‘x’ over the items or group when he found them.

My toddler liked looking at the bottle as well. She poked at the side of the bottle in order to pop items that were stuck to the side (due to static) back into the rice. It was a large DIY sensory bottle.

From the front seat, you could hold the sheet and ask your child, “How many red beads can you count?” or “Can you find the blue crayon?” This way, again, you are adding interaction.

6.) DVD Case Games

Using those good old CD/DVD cases and discs, I created a couple simple ‘look-at-it’ activities. One was called ‘Number Mix’ (for my preschooler) and the other was called ‘Shapes’ (for my toddler). On the discs that were inside, I wrote an array of random numbers (for the Number Mix case) and drew shapes (for the Shapes case).

My daughter could spin the CD with her finger and point to the shapes while visually exploring them. My son could point to and say what numbers were listed, and we could talk about them. I could also ask him to find a certain number. There are a lot of options for this simple activity-good for taking into restaurants to kill time when you can sit right next to your child.

For older preschoolers, you can make a matching game version of this activity:

This activity uses a clear CD case and a DVD case plus two discs. Write numbers on one old disc and coordinating dots on the other.

Break apart a CD case so that you can place the disc with dots in one half and tape or glue the piece of case into the DVD case. Then the dots and numbers can be spun and matched. This can be extended by writing math facts on one disc instead of dots!

7.) Mini felt boards

I used a piece of paper board (cereal box material), covered it with a piece of felt (glued it on with hot glue or craft glue) and also glued on a scrap piece of non-slip rug pad to the back (helps prevent any slipping off of the lap desk or lap.

With these small felt boards, you can take along felt cutouts, or simply pieces of yarn for forming creations on the board. Cut different lengths of yarn and place them in a ziptop baggie. Creating yarn pictures on the felt board is a fine motor exercise.
(Check out this yarn pictures activity that coordinates with the book The Squiggle for my inspiration.)
Ask your child to make a picture of the clouds they see using the yarn or to form letters.

8.) Speaking of clouds


Take along paper and crayons, or just use the plain paper inside the page protector sleeve with dry erase markers, to draw the clouds. Encourage your child to observe the clouds (this may even spark a discussion of the water cycle) and draw the form on their paper.

(Check out the book It Looked Like Spilt Milk for a great accompanying story.)

Blow bubbles as a car activity on a road trip with kids.

9.) Bubble fun

If the air conditioning or vents are on in your car, use them to help blow some bubbles.

Hold the bubble wand up to the air vents.  The air will blow the bubbles into the back seat for your child/children to grab.

This was a great little diversion at one of our rest stops before I was ready to get the children strapped back in for the last leg of our ride home.

When my husband and I are together in the car, I can ‘blow’ the bubbles while he is driving to break up any frustrating moments of sitting too long.

10.) Kid songs

Take along your child’s favorite sing along CDs or movie soundtracks.

Often, you don’t have to show the movie, just play the music as an alternative. I know this helps when negative moods are growing and it allows my children to feel important when they get their music played too.

When I was a child I always felt that it was a big deal to have my music choice played on a road trip!

Take along kid songs in the car written on index cards so you can figure out the words in a pinch!

Keep a group of favorite songs or finger plays written on index cards in the car for moments when your child(ren) want to sing or chant. Many times, just simple moments of interaction break up the drive enough to allow for a calmer trip or buy you a few more moments to get to that next rest stop!

>>Try this collection of car games for road trips on your next road trip traveling with kids.<<

I think the key to traveling with children is if they are content to just watch the trees go by, let them.

I hand these activities out when they are requested or before the mood turns grumpy. We don’t have to always entertain our children either. Just calming the mind and observing the clouds is healthy.

Children need time to relax-or time to learn to relax-as well as we do. We can think about how we can ease the tougher moments and longer stretches of travel for our children, and ultimately ourselves.

These activities worked well, got scattered all over the floor of the backseat at times, but were picked up easily when we stopped.

Looking for more tips for traveling with kids? Check out this funny duct tape cleaning hack for the car!
Awesome travel tips for a road trip with kids can be found at these great blogs:

What road trip with kids have you taken? What tips can you share to make traveling with kids a little bit easier? 

Car on the road driving through the mountains. Text reads. 10 easy road trip activities for kids and no electronics.
Going on a road trip or traveling with kids? These 10 activities and tips will keep the kids off electronics and content in the car-from a mom who has traveled thousands of miles on road trips with kids!


Subscribe to the Survival Guide newsletter to receive weekly updates plus snippets of mom motivation via email.

Join with me and other moms over on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Looking to connect with other Stay-at-Home Moms for support and connection? Join our private Facebook group.