Summertime, spring break, and holidays usually mean family road trips and adventures are on the horizon! The excitement of visiting new or familiar places, creating family memories, and experiencing summer in all its glory is a staple for many families this time of year. But road trips can also be challenging for many parents. How do you keep your kids busy for a few hours (or more) cramped in a car? Will you all survive the trip without wanting to turn around and go back home? Whether you’re gearing up to visit family or to explore the great outdoors, I’ve compiled my BEST road trip activities for kids to help YOU and your kiddos stay sane and engaged while on the road!
Best Road Trip Activities for Kids
As an occupational therapist and mama, I’m always looking for activities to keep my kiddos entertained AND on track developmentally. Why should education stop in the summer (or while driving down a long highway, for that matter!)? I’ve put together this list of some of the best road trip activities to keep your kiddos happily engaged and learning while you travel.
Road Trip Activities: Ages 0-2
Use these sleepy years to your advantage! Try to plan road trips around naptime or bedtime, if possible.
- A favorite blanket or stuffed animal
- Infant safety mirror
- Teethers and/or keyring toys
- Soft books and hardback books
- Sticker books (There are many fun themes, such as trucks, animals, and numbers/shapes/colors!)
- Snacks! Consider a “less mess” approach with pouches or puffs for littles under one! For your toddler, make-ahead snack packs with healthy foods like cut-up fruit and veggies, crackers, fruit snacks, or pouches. Find healthy snack ideas here.
- A toddler-approved playlist (sorry, mama, baby shark is coming your way!)
- Mini water board or water book to doodle on
- Window stickies
- Sensory bottle
- Cause + effect toys
Road Trip Activities: Ages 3-4
- Musical playlist
- Simple stories on a CD or downloaded to a phone
- Toddler-friendly workbooks + coloring books (don’t forget the crayons!)
- Magnet board (Safety tip! Make sure the magnets are large to prevent choking)
- I spy! Get those little eyes out the window and play a road trip version of I SPY!! Look for fun landmarks, cars, or the same colored objects! Or have them play a book version of the game.
- Have a sing-a-long!
- Favorite books
- Mom-approved toddler apps on a tablet or phone
- Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! Have a variety of fruits and vegetables, crackers, fruit leathers, and a spill-proof water bottle!
Road Trip Activities: Ages 5-6
- Workbooks and coloring books (don’t forget colored pencils or markers!)
- Cards (object identification, numbers, shapes, colors, matching)
- Books on a CD or downloaded to a phone
- Magnetic puzzles and games
- Sensory fidget toys
- A personal notebook to be used as a journal for documenting the trip!
- Mom-approved apps or a movie downloaded onto a tablet or phone
- Handheld game console
- Snacks . . . ALL. THE. SNACKS.
Road Trip Activities: Ages 7+
- Kid-friendly map or atlas
- A kids’ travel journal or notebook to document the trip
- A waterproof, action-proof kids’ camera
- A new book (or two or three!)
- Plushie travel pillow (maybe a blanket too)
- Audiobook downloaded to a phone or tablet
- Mom-approved apps or downloaded movies to a phone or tablet
- Travel bingo games
- And of course . . . SNACKS!
But wait. What about mom and dad? We, parents, can use all the help to make road trips as easy and stress-free as possible. Here are a few suggestions for must-have items for your next road trip:
- Backseat organizers (with a place for touchscreen tablets!)
- Kids travel trays
- Portable emergency urinal or potty seat (for the potty trainers!)
- Kids headphones
- Bento boxes (for ALL THE SNACKS!)
Okay, Momma! You’re well on your way with this list of the best road trip activities for kids. And don’t forget to take breaks as needed, dress comfortably, and give yourself all the extra grace!
Have a great summertime road trip with your kids!