10 Ways to Keep Kids Busy While Traveling


Since our move to and from Indiana car games have become very important to us. We have spent hours traveling and we still have more to do.

Now that we’re back in California, I cannot wait to get on the road this summer. I’m anxious to hit the beach, spend time in Los Angeles, and take my kids places they haven’t been yet. All this makes these car games even more important. And though the boys can’t yet play most of them, the enjoyment and laughter in the car keeps them involved and happy.

Car games, above all, avoids that dreaded question, too…

“Are we there, yet?”

Let’s avoid the are we there, yets — and explore some awesome travel games and activities.

5 Easy Travel Games for Toddlers & Big Kids

What’s Their Story?
When you spot another family on the road, make up stories about them. One person begins, and each member of your family gets the opportunity to make up who they think the other family is, what they’re doing, and where they’re going. Get as silly and fun as you want!

The Letter Game
Using road signs, find the entire alphabet in order. The person who spots the most letters of the alphabet, wins.

The Color Game
Choose a common color. Red, for example. Then award points for finding red cars. A small car is worth 1 point, a truck is worth 2 points, a bus is worth 3 points. The person who has the most points over a set period of time wins. The winner gets choose the next meal stop. This game is especially great for younger toddlers learning their colors.

Slug Bug
Oh, it’s a classic. And while we all appreciate not being hit, we have a twist to this classic game. Instead of hitting, we tap shoulders. The person tapped has to find the next bug, faster than the person before them. Use the stopwatch on your smartphone to keep track of the time. The person who finds bugs the fastest, wins this game.

License Plates
Print out a map of the United States, prior to your trip and tape it the window of the person will keep track of plates. When one of your family members finds an out of state plate, color that spot on the map. Not only is this fun to see how many plates you can find from around the country, but helps kids learn the map and placements of other states in relation to where they are. I often wondered how many times our California plates, in Indiana, has helped another family with this game!

5 Take-Alongs for Toddlers & Kids

Roadtrip with Zadey

There comes a time on every road trip, where we just need the car to settle down and chill for a little bit. This is especially challenging with toddlers who are not quite ready for a nap.

Pipe Cleaners
From a very young age my daughter has loved pipe cleaners. They provide hours of entertainment as she creates shapes, animals, fashion accessories for your stuffed animals, and so much more. Bonus points to pipe cleaners for being incredibly cheap, and easy to transport.

Paper Clips
This is good for the bit older kids. Paper clips offer a wide variety of options for keeping little fingers busy. They can fashion together earrings, necklaces, or string them together across the car to hang toys from. Naturally, you’ll need to be past the stage of putting everything in the mouth for this to work.

Pen & Paper
There’s good reason why pen and paper will never go out of style for kids. It keeps them busy for long periods, it allows them to create, and often times you can find many drawings at the end of your trip from what your family saw on the road. These then become precious mementos of another amazing family trip.

Favorite Friends
For my kids, there are no better friends than their stuffed animals. Make sure you include their favorite friends with their take-alongs to keep them inspired in their friendship. It’s also handy to have if your little one needs their friend for a nap in the car.

A tablet or MP3 player can provide lots of entertainment and a learning experience, even for your younger ones. At just the age of 3, my daughter would play learning games on her Nintendo DS, and today it’s still the electronic we don’t like to leave home without.

Will you be road-tripping this summer?

Do you have any plans for a road trip this summer? What do you do in the car to keep kids busy? Do you have any games you can add to the list?


  1. says

    I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough fro the alphabet game! We can get the boys into it; but she is still too young and so she disrupts everyone else in the car. Electronics are the golden ticket for keeping her occupied and quiet on a long trip. She doesn’t travel well otherwise.

  2. says

    I remember playing I Spy on long car trips along with the ever classic Slug Bug game. Those always bring back really great memories of past trips with family and friends :)

  3. says

    I remember playing slug bug when I was a kid. I was always covered with bruises from all the times my cousin punched me.

  4. Angela S says

    My family will be traveling a fair bit this summer. Thanks for the great tips! It’s no fun when kids get bored on the road or on a flight.

  5. Shauna says

    I actually downloaded a Disney trivia game to my phone before our trip and kept the kids entertained by asking trivia questions and making it a competition. It was so much fun!

  6. Amy Desrosiers says

    We will be road tripping this summer and plan on bringing many of these activity must haves!

  7. says

    Thank you for sharing all of these super fun ideas! I bet my daughter would stop complaining about being bored if we played some of these games!

  8. Ann Bacciaglia says

    My kids are old now so road trips usually means they are texting their friends. Thank you for sharing these great tips.

  9. says

    Ah road trips. Always memories! these are great idea, especially for toddlers. My oldest, 3, has never really enjoyed the car so i’m always looking for new tips.

  10. says

    We do a variation of the alphabet game. We first choose a theme, lets say food. So person one goes… “A is for Applesauce”. Now player two…” A is for Applesauce, B is for Buttermilk”. We continue this through the entire alphabet. By the end it can be hard, because you have to repeat and remember everything that was said before your turn. You can kill an hour easy playing this way.

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