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The Importance of Play: Developmental Benefits of Activities for 2 Year Olds

At the age of two, children are constantly learning and exploring the world around them. As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to provide them with activities that stimulate their developing minds and bodies. Engaging in age-appropriate activities can help enhance their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Here are some fun and educational activities for 2 year olds.

Sensory Play

Sensory play is a great way to stimulate a child’s senses and encourage exploration. Activities like playing with playdough or kinetic sand can help develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and creativity. Another great sensory activity is creating a sensory bin filled with different textures like rice, beans, or water beads. This will provide your child with hours of exploration and discovery.


Reading books to your child not only helps develop their language skills but also sparks their imagination and creativity. Choose books with colorful pictures and simple stories that your child can relate to or follow along with.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is important for a child’s overall health as well as their motor skill development. Encourage your child to run, jump, climb, or play ball games outdoors in safe areas like playgrounds or backyards.

Arts & Crafts

Arts & crafts activities allow children to express themselves creatively while developing their fine motor skills through coloring, drawing, painting or cutting paper shapes using safety scissors.

In conclusion, providing appropriate activities for 2 year olds helps promote healthy growth in various aspects of development such as physical fitness, cognitive function including language acquisition and critical thinking abilities; social interactions through sharing toys/games with other children; emotional regulation by understanding emotions better through storytelling; creativity which helps harness imagination into concrete forms such as arts & crafts projects among others . So be sure to engage your little one in these fun and educational activities to help them grow up to be healthy, happy, and well-rounded individuals.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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30 Screen-Free Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Summertime means vacations, road trips, and the inevitable chorus of “are we there yet?” Indeed, spending long car rides with kids can be hard and children, especially younger ones, often tend to get bored quickly. This can lead to children spending a lot of time in front of a screen, which is not ideal for anyone on a road trip. Children will not remember the drive day adventures if they are playing tablet games or watching a movie. Road trips with kids can be wonderful opportunities for children to explore new activities, see and learn new things, and play time-tested road trip games. Today, Sara Lesire , St. Louis based civil engineer, outdoor-loving, mom of two, makes road-tripping with children a breeze with these 30 screen-free road trip ideas for kids!

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screen-free road trip ideas for kids - traveling with kids

Screen-free road trip ideas for kids

Our family has been taking long road trips since our kids were babies. We rarely have to resort to screen time to keep them entertained and happy during our drives. Our kids don’t own tablets so I have had to get creative over the years on new ideas for those annual 14+ hour each way drives.  If you are looking for ideas on how to get your kids’ eyes off the screens without the whining, here are some great screen-free road trip ideas for all ages. 

Invest in a travel tray

First, while this is not exactly an activity, it does help make traveling with kids easier! We have been using travel trays in the car for several years now. They provide a flat surface for activities while the raised edge helps keep items from rolling off. They can use the surface for coloring, drawing, or any other hands-on activities. There is even a cup holder and pockets for storage. While they have a flat surface, the edges of the trays are soft and padded for safety in the event of a crash. They are also perfect for meals and snacks on the go.

Screen free road trip ideas with kids travel trays, keep kids occupied in the car, must haves when traveling with kids

Road trip surprise boxes

1. The surprise box! Each and every road trip, my kids always look forward to seeing what is in their “surprise box.” The boxes are just lunchboxes I found at a garage sale. Each long trip I fill them with inexpensive trinkets and toys from garage sales, Dollar Tree, or things I find on clearance. This is always a hit, because the contents are new to my kids, making each item or activity that much more exciting. I also add in some snacks and special sweet treats.

Screen free road trip ideas for kids surprise boxes

If you want to extend the suspense or use it as a reward for good behavior, you could try making multiple small surprise bags to be opened at certain times or at each road trip stop. Ideas of things to include are Legos, Hotwheels cars, fidget toys, small dolls, small stuffed animals, stickers, crayons, notebooks, travel games, fruit snacks, applesauce pouches, or coloring books. Dollar Tree is an amazing resource for budget-friendly goodies. 

Screen free road trip ideas with kids - surprise bags, goody bags

Keep little hands busy

There are so many great interactive and no mess activities available to pack along. Do a little browsing in your house and online to prepare some of the following activities. 

2. Fine motor control games : Use an empty can with a lid such as oatmeal or a whipped topping container. Cut in some holes in the lid just large enough for kids to push pom poms through.

3. Pipe cleaners: These are so simple but so much fun for kids. See what shapes they can make with them or what sort of creation they can make by bending them in different ways. 

4. Fidget toys: Any kid (or adult) that loves popping packing bubbles will enjoy popper toys . 

Screen free road trip ideas with kids, fidget toys, must haves when traveling with kids

6. Window art: For kids that have a window seat, inexpensive window clings from the dollar store offer a creative way to stay entertained while making an artistic impression. 

7. Magnetic toys: Our kids enjoy the challenge of making different shapes using a magnetic tangram set or making funny faces with this fun kit . You can also grab a cheap dollar store cookie sheet and bring along alphabet magnets or magnetic tiles that you probably already have around the house. 

Screen free road trip ideas with kids, travel toys, travel games for kids, traveling with kids

10. Toy tubes: These toy tubes and pipes were huge hits for my kids when they were toddler and preschool ages. The pieces are larger too, which helps avoid them getting lost in the car. 

11. Mess-free coloring: Crayola’s Color Wonder markers have been in use in our house for years. They only color on the special paper for no messes!

12. No mess drawing: This simple LCD drawing tablet has been a favorite of our kids.  Easy to draw and it erases with just the press of a button. 

Screen free road trip ideas with kids, must haves when traveling with kids, favorite drawing toy

13. Lego box: Use double-sided sticky tabs to stick a lego baseplate into the bottom of a dollar store tray or plastic box. Add in a variety of lego bricks for a traveling box of creative fun. If you are worried about losing parts of a set, Dollar Tree sells lego sets and baseplates for an inexpensive version. 

14. Make a sensory I-spy game: Fill a plastic bottle or Ziploc bag with rice. Add in several small toys, tape closed the container, and let kids shake the container to search for the treasures. 

15. Etch-a-Sketch drawing:  This is a hit with most kids, especially preschool age and up. Twisting those knobs to create a drawing is a challenge and children love seeing what they can create (even if the results are often staircases).

Screen free road trip ideas with kids, traveling with kids

Let them follow along

16. Map fun! Print out a map of your travel plans or pick up a state paper map and let them follow along on the route. Mark off your stops with a star to give them an idea of how far there is to go. Both my kids absolutely love looking at maps. Add in a toy car for some pretend driving fun. 

Make a road trip binder

17. Create a road trip binder full of printables! There are so many amazing and free road trip game printables out there created by graphic snazzy parents. I like to put a group of them together in a binder for each child. The pockets of the binder are great for adding in crayons or markers. Pro Tip: If you want to avoid the expected lost markers, try taping string around the crayons and markers and then taping it to the binder.

Some of the blank pages I leave tucked in the binder pockets to be used for any sort of coloring or drawing. But, others I put in clear, protective sleeves to be used multiple times with a dry erase marker. If you are reading this at midnight the night before a long road trip and need something quick, a clipboard instead of a binder also works great too to keep the pages together.

Below is a list of free printables for kids of all ages. 

Screen free road trip ideas with kids, travel games, traveling with kids, road trip bingo, free printable road trip games

Preschool/Elementary Ages

  • Tot Schooling has this super cute printable pack with dot pages, I-spy games, travel bingo, and more. 
  • This travel-themed drawing prompts from Picklebums are so fun. 
  • Playdough to Plato has another road trip pack with multiple games and activities. 
  • Paper Trail has a selection of different I-Spy games with different themes. My daughter loves these hidden picture games.  
  • Crayola has a huge selection of coloring pages and activities to print while Wood Jr. has tons of printables included themed mazes .  

Older Elementary/Tweens

  • Carla Schauer Studio’s Travel Scavenger Hunt for Tweens is perfect for the older kids to keep their eyes away from the screens and out the windows. 
  • Krazy Dad has printable mazes for all ages. Choose the right difficulty level to keep kids challenged. 
  • 3 Boys and a Dog has these unique restaurant sign I-Spy games . 
  • A Suburban Mom has the best license plate game I’ve seen. It has actual pictures of what each state’s plate actually looks like. 
  • I love Sunny Day Family’s printable Vacation Journal . Kids can keep a record of the places they have been. If you want a ready-made version, this kid’s travel journal looks adorable. 

Let them capture the moment

18. Take pictures! My kids have loved being able to take photos of both the journey and the destination. And now that almost everyone has a smartphone, you can often find cheap point-and-shoot cameras at garage sales or local swap pages. My kids have been loving these child cameras that are just the right size for little hands. They often will spend part of the ride reviewing their past shots on the camera. 

Screen free road trip ideas with kids, traveling with kids, camera for kids, kids camera

Play car games

There are so many great games that the whole family can enjoy together. Most of these ideas can be adapted for a variety of ages. Even better, most of them require no prep. 

19. Counting game : Pick an item to keep track of and then count them together. For example, count the number of red cars or the number of barns, train crossings, or speed limit signs. 

20. Car hide and seek: Take some small objects or print out some pictures of animals, cars, etc. and hide them around the car but in viewing sight. Tell kids to look around and find them.

21. Ask questions: Have everyone take turn asking a question such as everyone’s favorite ice cream, or a place they want to visit someday. If you need some ideas, check out these cute printable conversation starters . You can also buy this ready-made Table Talk list of questions for kids. 

22. Travel scattergories: Take turns picking a topic such as animals, fruits, ice cream flavors, etc. Try to name as many as you can in each category that starts with a certain letter. 

23. Would you rather: Older kids many enjoy Landeelu’s printable Would You Rather game plus a list of road trip games for tweens and teens. 

24. That’s different: Take turns pointing out something you see out the window that is out of the ordinary. It could be a crazy sign, a fun-colored car, or a unique landmark. 

25. When I go: The first person starts off with “When I go to (destination name) I am bringing a (an object, the sillier the better.) Then the next person repeats the phrase and adds on another item. For example: When I go to Florida, I am bringing a flamingo, a picnic basket, an umbrella, and a guitar. See how long you can keep it going. 

26. Guess the animal: One person thinks of an animal and everyone else takes turns asking questions to try and figure out which animal it is. This is similar to 20 questions, but we never set a question limit. Model asking broad questions first, such as does it walk on four legs or does it have fur, before moving onto the more direct questions, like is it a fish or is it a hippo. 

27. Mad Libs: Mad Libs are sure to bring a laugh to everyone in the car. You can find versions online to print or buy a whole book for endless smiles. 

28. Travel games: Magnetic and travel-sized versions of classic games like Bingo and Fishing can be fun for multiple kids. I’ve already added these super adorable chicken shuffle and woodland animal strategy games to my kid’s wish lists. 

29. Read or listen to books! Hit up your local library before your trip for some new reads for the car. I like to search garage sales, thrift stores, and local book shops for some new-to-them books to help the miles fly by. Another great option is Audiobooks! This way the whole family can enjoy listening to the books together.

Make a game out of it by having an informal book review when the books are finished. Ask the kids what their favorite book of the day was and why. Extend the conversation to ask what they would do if they were the main character in the story or which character they liked the most and why. 

Screen free road trip ideas with kids traveling with kids

Plan kid-friendly stops

30. Make the stops fun! One final easy way to keep kids from becoming restless on long trips is to break up the journey with some fun stops. I like to use the GoWhee or Roadtrippers apps to look up fun destinations along the route. Or you can just search for “best playgrounds near city/town” to find a good spot for a break.

If you travel often, I highly recommend the Next Exit travel book . It lists all the gas stations and restaurants at each exit along the entire U.S. interstate system. It also lists amenities and locations of all rest areas so you can see which rest areas have playgrounds. 

If you’re traveling in/around either the St. Louis, MO area or the Bentonville, Arkansas area, be sure to check out our Get Out Guides for all kinds of fun OUTDOOR things to do in these cities! 

Screen free road trip ideas with kids traveling with kids

What are your favorite ways to keep kids busy and happy while traveling?

About the author.

Sara has been married to her high school sweetheart for 17 years and together they have two children. Sara spent many childhood hours outside on her grandparents’ farm and strives for her kids to have similar carefree kid adventures. Based in the St. Louis area, she loves to share on her blog and social media all the scenic and fun places to explore around the St. Louis area and beyond. Hiking is the most popular activity for her whole family followed by hitting up the best local playgrounds. Photography is also a passion of Sara’s and she continues to be amazed at the natural beauty and wonder of God’s creation. When she is not hitting the trail, Sara works as a civil engineer.

You can find more from Sara online in the following locations: Instagram: @midwestnomadfamily Facebook: Midwest Nomad Family RWMC posts: Sara Lesire

More like this

You are absolutely right that long car rides with kids will be absolutely tough and I know it firsthand because we really often have such trips. To tell the truth, we always try to distract our children and dilute this time on the road with some games, but, unfortunately, we are already out of ideas. I’m so glad that I came across your article because it is so helpful in our situation and it can make our road trip easier many times. The surprise box is an absolutely brilliant and original idea which can interest any child. It could even arouse my interest. Also, it is so cool that you can use it for different purposes. When my children be naughty on this trip, I will certainly present this box to them as a reward for their good behavior. I really like the idea of fine motor control games because in this case you can combine usefulness with pleasure, developing your brain, that is important.

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20 Great Road Trip Activities and Printables for Kids

Sustainability has become an important concept in our society. Now most Americans at a young age are taught to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” With this in mind, we can make significant headway toward preserving our planet.

20 Great Road Trip Activities for Kids — with Printables

It doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling with grade-schoolers, tweens, or older kids, and you don’t have to rely on iPads and audiobooks. Combine a few everyday items with a little ingenuity into your packing list, and you can provide your family with their own fun games and travel activities.

And if you’ve got a car- or truck-obsessed kid, you can stock up on these fun, printable road trip games and activities to keep them entertained on your next road trip.

Download the printables packet

Road Trip Activities for 3- to 5-Year-Olds

Different activities work better for different kids and age groups. For preschoolers in the 3-5 age range , arts and crafts will tap into their creativity and help them learn motor skills.

Music can be fun, too. How many rounds of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” have you sung during a road trip?

And pre-K and kindergarten kids are doing more academic learning these days, like sounding out words, counting, and simple math, so you’ve got more options than ever.

1. Magnets and Cookie Sheet

A cookie sheet is an easy DIY magnetic backdrop for numbers, shapes, and letters. Your kids can arrange them any way they want, and they’ll stay put!

Give kids simple math, spelling, or counting challenges. Ask them to see what kind of geometric patterns they can make — or just free them up to get creative and have fun with the magnets on their own.

2. Vehicle Matching Game

A road trip is a perfect occasion for kids to see lots of vehicles and learn what they’re called. With the free printable for this vehicle matching game, kids draw lines from each word to the picture of the vehicle that matches it.

Vehicle Matching Game

Your little one stays entertained while they learn to recognize and name the vehicles they might see on the road.

3. Sticker Books

Sticker books allow young kids to be part of the story. Even if they’re not old enough to write yet, they can use the stickers to help them tap into their creative side. Stickers that can be used and reused are a special bonus, expanding the hours of fun on any family vacation.

4. Counting Cars

Our Counting Cars printables are a great way to teach your kids counting skills and naming the various kinds of vehicles they’ll see on a long car ride. Each page holds several cards, with each card showing a traceable numeral and a picture of that many trucks, cars, buses, or other vehicles.

Counting Cars

By tracing the numeral on each card, your kids get to practice writing numbers and counting. And afterward, they can use them as flashcards or playing cards, with different suits: 4 of Cars, 6 of Trucks, 9 of Fire Engines, and so forth.

5. Felt Boards

Children can use a portable felt board to tell stories with pieces of felt, or learn how to arrange different sizes, colors and shapes in creative ways.

The soft pieces have the advantage of not having any rough edges. And felt sticks together, so the pieces hold to the board easily during playtime, then can be collected in a neat and handy storage bag when the play is done.

6. Trace the Truck

Tracing can be the first step toward the skill of free drawing. The movement lays a foundation for the fine motor skills involved in drawing and handwriting. Learning to copy from simple outlines helps children develop an eye toward establishing their own creative approach later.

Trace the Truck

And here’s a bonus: Once your child has traced the drawings, they can use the designs as coloring book pages to keep the fun going!

7. Magnetic Jigsaw Puzzles

You can create magnetic jigsaw puzzles by sticking an adhesive magnetic dot to the back of puzzle pieces. Then they’ll stick to a cookie sheet, and your kids can move them around at will. They can put puzzles together in the car without worrying about them getting jostled around by bumps in the road or losing pieces.

8. Vehicle Vacation Maze

Here’s a great way to introduce younger children to the concept of maps: The vehicle vacation maze is a winding road that passes alongside landmarks like buildings, lakes, and trees. They can encounter road construction zones, stop signs, and other typical road trip sights, too.

Your kids can draw their way down the road on the paper to guide their vehicle to its vacation spot. Simultaneously, they’ll see how charting a course goes along with an actual journey, and how both can be a lot of fun.

Vehicle Vacation Maze

Besides navigating the simple maze (and learning how different choices can result in progress or dead ends and backtracking), kids can learn to distinguish between different sights along the way. Hotels, gas stations, restaurants, storefronts, and homes become familiar both on the map and in real life when they appear on the roadside.

9. Velcro Popsicle Sticks

All kids love popsicles, but you can use the sticks for more than just eating. Wash them off (or just buy them fresh at a dollar store!) and attach Velcro to them so your kids can attach them and create different shapes. You can store your Velcro popsicle sticks in a zipper bag or box to keep them together.

10. Auto Alphabet

What letter of the alphabet does the word “car” begin with? How about “airplane” or “helicopter”? The Auto Alphabet game can help teach your children about word meanings, letters, and sounds. Each card contains a picture of a vehicle, the word for that vehicle, and the letter that begins the word.

Auto Alphabet

Your children can trace the letters on each card, which can help not only their fine motor skills but also their memory and word association. Kids will learn that A is for ambulance, B is for bus, C is for car, D is for dirt bike, etc. It’s fun to see a vehicle for every letter in the alphabet!

11. Wikki Sticks

You may not have heard of Wikki Stix , but they can be a great road trip activity for kids. These are made of brightly colored yarn attached to a flexible stick with a touch of nontoxic wax.

It’s a simple combination that allows children to create shapes from flowers to butterflies to animals! They’re perfectly safe and infinitely changeable, which makes them great for unleashing children’s creativity and imaginations.

Road Trip Activities for 6-10-Year-Olds

Kids who are a little older will need activities a little more advanced and involved to keep them engaged. Imagination in this age group is tempered by the beginnings of logical thinking and questioning, and developing a greater ability to think of things in sequence.

They’re also learning greater problem-solving skills, so the games and activities you pick for school-age kids should be appropriate for their increased skill levels, focus, and attention span. Here are some travel tips and road trip ideas for them.

12. Lacing Cards

Our printable Lacing Cards allow kids to practice craft and motor skills — cutting, threading a needle, and sewing. They embellish different images with yarn by lacing it through the front and back of the card using the guide dots placed along the edges of the pattern.

Vehicle Lacing Cards

Parents will need to help prepare this activity, which requires glue, scissors, and a large plastic needle to thread the yarn. It might be a good idea to have mom or dad sit in the back seat to help (or, even better, prepare this activity before the trip, at a rest stop, or during an overnight stay).

Parents can glue the printable to a file folder or thick cardstock paper. Kids can cut out the shapes with safety scissors. With some help, kids can thread the plastic needle with yarn and poke it through the cardstock, lacing the yarn around the edges of the truck and bulldozer.

13. Mad Libs

Mad Libs is one of those classic travel games that’s a longtime tradition on road trips. There are no moving pieces. All you need is the book, a pencil, and two or more people to play. They’re a great way to teach parts of speech and encourage creative thinking.

In a Mad Lib book , one person reads the “story” and prompts the others to fill in the blanks with a type of word — noun, verb, adjective, or adverb — without knowing what the words around them say. The resulting story gets crazy once the words are all filled in, and the bizarre sentences leave everyone in the car laughing.

14. Road Trip Bingo

On the road, kids can see a lot of things, if they look closely enough — cars and trucks, of course, but also cows, horses, buildings, trees, fire trucks, signs, highway cones, etc.

Another longtime favorite among road trip games, Road Trip Bingo can keep kids occupied with the scenery for long stretches. Our printable adapts it to be played from the car seat.

Road Trip Bingo

It’s like a road trip scavenger hunt: Kids call out the things they see and circle each one on their card. When they get five in a row, they can yell BINGO!

15. Coloring Books

You’re probably familiar with coloring books from school classrooms, where students use crayons to color inside the lines. Cars can get hot, though, especially during summer (when most families take their vacations). You don’t want crayons to melt in the car — especially if they’re left there by mistake — so colored pencils are the better alternative.

Coloring is another way to encourage creativity , as well as the fine motor precision necessary to stay inside the lines. But precision isn’t necessary on a family road trip, just as long as your kids are engaged and having fun.

16. Paper Bag Puppets

A car trip is more fun when you invite an imaginary friend along. And would you rather just imagine one — or make one come to life? Paper bags can be transformed into all kinds of puppets , from kangaroos to mice, from lions to owls.

Get creative with construction paper cutouts and glue sticks (again, parents might need to help). A long road trip can fly by when you’re in good company.

Road Trip Activities for 11-13-Year-Olds

Children ages 11-13 can tackle more complex logical problems and hypothetical situations. Older kids are more capable of engaging in abstract thinking and scientific exercises, which are introduced in school around this time.

Here are some car games, fun things to do, and road trip tips for this older age group.

17. I Spy Road Signs

I Spy Road Signs is a variation on Road Trip Bingo, with more specific objects to look out for. Begin by downloading our printable covered with pictures of various road signs. Each time your child spots a new kind of sign, they can circle it or draw a checkmark next to it.

I Spy Road Signs

Older kids can spice it up by competing to be the first person to spot a certain kind of sign, or to spot the most of a certain sign. At the end of the trip, they can count up the number of circles or checks to tally how many signs they spied.

18. Maps and Atlases

Most kids in this age group already know how to use an electronic map via the GPS on their phones, so you can keep them engaged by designating them to navigate a fairly straightforward leg of the trip. Kids get a sense of control when they know where they’re headed, not to mention a sense of importance and responsibility for being chosen as navigator.

But the inclusion of paper maps or atlases on your trip can add another aspect to the fun. There’s an art to recognizing symbols and reading a paper map. So before you leave, print out a blank map of the area where you’ll be traveling … or just use an old paper map from the glove compartment.

Mark out your planned trip route so your kids can follow along, letting them mark off each landmark (towns, rivers, national parks) as you pass. They can draw each landmark and decorate the map however they want. After the road trip is finished, they can bring home a memento of their trip to look back on. It’s like having a travel journal in map form.

19. Road Trip Word Search

A word search is a great language game for this age group. Tie it in with your trip by using the words for things you might see on a road trip. Kids circle the names of different kinds of vehicles, roadside sights, and structures they encounter along the way, such as bridges and toll booths. It helps with observation, focus, and spelling skills.

Road Trip Word Search

20. License Plates From all 50 States

The license plate game is another road trip favorite. In this version, you can make it even more fun by starting with this printable map of all 50 states. Whenever kids spot a license plate from a new state, they color in on the map the state that represents it. At the end of the trip, they can total up all the states they’ve “collected.”

License Plates from All 50 States

If you want to extend the fun, laminate a few copies of the printable map and give everyone in the car dry-erase markers to use. When the trip is over, the ink can be wiped away, and the maps can be reused on your next trip.

In addition to games, don’t forget goodies and road trip snacks, and maybe create a playlist of your kids’ favorite songs or podcasts. There’s a lot you can do to make the best road trip ever for your kids — and a learning experience, too. By tailoring activities to their interests and age levels, you can make each vacation an adventure: not just when you get to your destination, but as you head out on the road and return, too.

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21 Fun Car Games for Kids

Planning to spend a few hours in the car? These fun (and completely free!) road trip games will keep your kids entertained on long drives.

Road trips with children are often difficult ordeals punctuated by endless variations of "Are we there yet?" But they don't need to be! The next time you're venturing out on the open road, try these 21 fun car games to keep your young crew entertained.

When they're distracted by these car games, your kids will (hopefully) behave in the backseat, making the drive more enjoyable for the adults, too. You'll feel less stressed when you finally reach your destination, whether it's Grandma's house, Legoland, or anything in between.

And an added bonus? Engaging car activities give kids the cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play . A real win-win.


1. The License Plate Game

Make a group effort to spot license plates from all 50 states. Whoever spots and calls out a state first gets a point. (Bonus points for the first person to spy a Canadian plate!) The family member with the most points at the end of the drive wins.

2. Trivia Questions

Before the car ride, prepare a list of trivia questions about your kids' specific interests, whether it's Disney characters or American history. Ask them throughout the drive to get their brains pumping.

3. Story Time

Get creative inventing a family fairy tale! The first person starts with "Once upon a time…" and offers a complete sentence, then the second person adds to the story with their sentence. Take turns adding sentences until the story reaches a conclusion.

You can either set a time limit (say, 15 minutes) or wrap it up after each person has a chance to say three sentences. Consider recording the story on your phone and having someone transcribe it afterward, so you'll never forget it.

4. Questions

There aren't many distractions in the car, so it's the perfect opportunity to bond with your children. Get them talking by asking some fun "get-to-know-you" questions : What is the most adventurous thing you've ever eaten? What do you like daydreaming about? What are three things you want to do this summer?

5. The Alphabet Game

One person chooses the right-hand side of the road, and the other gets the left. Then, each looks for letters of the alphabet that appear on signs or license plates on their side.

The object of the car game is to point out all the letters of the alphabet in order, from A to Z. The first person to spot the entire alphabet wins!

6. The Animal Name Game

To start this fun car game, one person names an animal. The next person then has to name another animal (no repeating!) that begins with the last letter of the previous animal named (for example, "elephant" ends with "t," so the next person might say "tiger," after which the next person might say "raccoon," and so on).

The game can go on forever, and kids like that no one wins or loses. If your children are a little older, you can swap animals for other categories like TV shows, cities, or foods.

7. Twenty Questions

One person secretly thinks of a person, place, or thing. The other players then take turns asking yes-or-no questions, such as "Can it fly?" or "Does it grow in the ground?" A round ends either when a player uses one of their questions to correctly guess the answer, or when all of the players have asked 20 questions and the answer is revealed. Each player gets at least one turning being "it."

8. Telephone

Designate a storyteller. The storyteller whispers a story to someone else in the car. That person whispers the same story—getting as close as they can to recreating it word-for-word—to a third person, and so on. The last person to hear the story repeats it out loud so everyone can hear. Invariably, some of the stories will have been lost in the translation, and the resulting garbled message usually inspires a good laugh.

9. The Theme Song Game

One person hums the tune to a favorite TV show , and everyone else tries to name the show as fast as possible. Then, the first person to guess correctly hums the next song and starts the car game again.

10. Name That Song

Someone in the car can sing a single line of a song. The other people can guess the singer or title—bonus points if they get both! This car game works best for older children and teens.

11. Scavenger Hunt

You'll need some advanced planning for this one. Before the trip, make a list of items you're likely to see on the road—a blue billboard, cows, a motorcycle, etc. Your kids can be on the lookout for these items, keeping track of what they see. If they find everything on your list, they win a prize. (Perhaps some candy at the next rest stop?)

12. Memory Test

Looking for challenging games to play in car? Try this one! The first person says, "A is for __," filling in the blank with any word beginning with the letter "A," such as "apple." The second person comes up with a word for the letter B, such as "book," but must also repeat the "A" word: "A is for apple, B is for book."

Continue through the alphabet, each person taking several turns and reciting more letters and words. By the time you reach the letter "Z," that player will have to recite the whole alphabet and each letter's corresponding word. If you're playing with younger kids, you can choose an earlier letter to end on than "Z."

13. Secret Place Race

One person looks at a road map and finds a small town, village, lake, or river. That person announces the name of the place they have chosen. A second player has 60 seconds to look at the map and try to find the secret place.

14. Restaurant Race

To begin this car game, each player chooses a fast-food restaurant, such as Burger King, Taco Bell, or McDonald's. Players earn points by spotting their restaurant off the road, on a billboard, on exit markers, on food and fuel signs, or by hearing it mentioned on the radio. Impose a time limit—say, 20 minutes—then add up the points.

15. Healthy Competition

Though not exactly a "car" game, this activity is perfect for long road trips . To offset the sedentary nature of the journey, have kids compete in athletic challenges at rest stops. See who can do the most sprints, push-ups, or jumping jacks in a minute, then stage a 20-yard dash.

16. Would You Rather?

Start a round of " Would You Rather? " with everyone getting a turn to ask far-fetched questions to the family. For example, "Would you rather eat chocolate or pizza for an entire day?" or "Would you rather have the ability to fly or become invisible?" Your family's answers may surprise you!

17. Categories

Choose a broad category, such as cities, movie titles, or dinner foods. Then, players take turns naming items within the chosen category in alphabetical order. For example, if you chose cities, you could say Athens, Boise, Charleston, Detroit, and Edinburgh. If a player doesn't state their answer within 10 seconds—or doesn't travel down the alphabet correctly—they're out. The last player standing wins.

18. Word Association

The first player states a random word aloud. The next player quickly says another word associated with the first one. These steps repeat, cycling through all of the players. (Here's an example: mustard, hot dog, barbecue, Fourth of July , fireworks…). The game ends if someone takes too long to answer, provides an answer without a clear association, or repeats a word.

19. Watch Your Mouth!

Before the road trip, choose words or phrases that are "off-limits" in the car—for example, the first names of family members or "Are we there yet?" If someone says one of the off-limits words, they get a point. Whoever has the fewest points at the end of the drive wins the car game!

20. Counting Cows

This game is surprisingly simple. Whenever you pass a cow, yell out "cow!" or "moo!" The first person to spot the cow and say the word gets a point (no repeats!). Whoever racks up the most points is declared the winner.

21. Road Trip Riffing

The first player starts by singing a few lines of a song. Then, another person jumps in to connect the lyrics with another song (essentially, the last lyrics Player One sings should be the first lyrics Player Two sings). Here's an example: "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you…." "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy…" "Happy birthday to you!"

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Home » Motorhome Advice » Life on the Road » 21 easy children’s Car Games & Road trip activities for kids

21 easy children’s Car Games & Road trip activities for kids

Childrens Car Games Road Trip activities

Looking for the best games for children to play in the car on a road trip? Want ways to keep them entertained, quiet or playing nicely? Here are some ideas for the best car games and road trip activities for kids of all ages.

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Car Games for Kids

Hands up if you have ever been stuck on a road trip with children under the age of 15?

I’m so sorry.

(If you haven’t, and that’s why you’re reading this, err…. good luck! 🙏😬 )

Kids struggle with road trips. Even if, like our daughter, they’ve spent a lot of time travelling, they still struggle with the concept of ‘how far there is to go’, sitting still for long periods and changes in their routine.

Children’s Car Games – What NOT to Do!

I remember one memorable trip with our toddler about 15 years ago. I was woefully unprepared and didn’t have any children’s car games handy.

I improvised and created the infamous road trip game “Can you see the Monkey in the tree…?”

Not familiar with it? Every time we drove past a tree, ANY tree, I had to ask “Can you see the Monkey?”

Our beloved daughter would look at the tree, ponder the question thoughtfully as she stared at it, then declare “YES” really loudly.

I should point out that we were in Northern England. There were no monkeys. But, if I forgot a tree, she started to cry because “I’d missed the monkey in it.”

So, I was stuck.

We played this game, non-stop, for two hours on our car drive. TWO HOURS. Yes, that warrants excessive use of capital letters.

It also warranted a double vodka when we arrived…

I won’t tell you what I was thinking. It certainly didn’t give me any mother-of-the-year points.

So, to help you avoid the same pain and misery, here are some better ideas for road trip toys, games & activities for children. They’re mostly quiet (you’re welcome) and generally EASY and suitable for kids of all ages.

(You can also find ideas for baby toys for road trips.) Good luck with your trip!!

Childrens car games and road trip activities for kids and tweens. Best travel games for kids.

Fun Driving Games for Kids

Many of these car games for children can be played without any extra accessories. However, did you know you can buy ACTUAL i-spy packs or Road Trip bingo wipeable sheets??

If you do a lot of road trips, or are enjoying van life with kids , you’ll be glad you have wipe-able ones!

Depending on the age of your kids, this may not be the best road trip game; once you start you might get the word ‘sky’ 17 times in a row. We play the rule that the object has to be visible at all times (no “there was a sheep back there!”) and also that you cannot repeat a word.

Another option for younger children (where spelling is an issue) is to do i-spy with a colour. “Something coloured… blue” (yep, it’s sky again)

If you prefer, one of these amazing i-Spy books might be just the thing, especially if you’d like a break. You can various ones, covering road trips, animals, vehicles etc, or get one like this which covers everything.

Let's Play.... I Spy Everything!: A Fun Guessing Game Puzzle Book...

Pink/ Yellow Childrens Car Game (adults can play too!)

This car game is strangely addictive for all the family.

In a nutshell, you’re looking for yellow and pink cars.

You get one point for a yellow car, two points for a pink car (I’ll allow your judgement on what is pink and what is red!) If you see a car of either colour, the first to shout it out wins the points.

Keep track of the score and play until a set point or until a certain score. For us, we play the first to 50 points chooses dinner. Or gets first bathroom break. Or the loser has to do the washing up!

License Plate Game

Depending on which country you’re road tripping in, this can work in several ways. You can print off a map and get the kids to colour it in as they spot licences for each country or state.

This works best somewhere like Europe or the USA, not the UK- we don’t have such a large range of different countries. (In Europe, you’ll be spotting the EU badges)

If you are road tripping in the UK, try and go through the alphabet- find licence plates with an ‘A’ on it, then ‘B’ etc. (Just a note, we don’t use ‘I’ or ‘O’… don’t try to find those!!!

Another option is ‘Mapominoes’. Best played with plenty of space, this is a great way to encourage kids to learn more about the countries you’re visiting.

MAPOMINOES EUROPE – The Ultimate Geography Game – Fun and...

Ah, road trip bingo. It was one of my favourite car games when I was a child. I’m pleased to say it’s evolved a bit now.

You can get some brilliant printable free for various car bingo activities. Print them off, give everyone a pen or pencil (ideally on a string around their necks!) and let Road Trip Bingo commence. It’s surprisingly fun! Alternatively, buy a wipeable, reusable pack.

FAMILY CAR ROADTRIP BINGO travel game spy hunt pocket fun car...

I like the fact that the game is played with road signs and animals- makes it easier to spot things for younger children. If you want to make it harder, only the first to see and shout gets to mark it down.

Best Board Games to Play in the Car

If you’re going to play board games in a car with children, prepare yourself for things to get lost on the floor or tantrums. BUT, board games are a way to pass the time and there are some great ones without many loose pieces!

Some of our favourites include:

Guess Who Travel Car Game

Did you know you can get Disney, My Little Pony and many other editions of this popular childrens car game? It used to keep me and my brother entertained for hours!

Hasbro Gaming Unisex-Adult Grab and Go Guess Who Game,...

Battleship- Easy Travel Game for Kids

Another perfect kids car game with very few moving pieces. Battleship is also a great car board game for adults to play with a single child on their own in the back.

Hasbro Battleship Grab and Go Game

Pop-up Car Board Game for Kids

We used to call this ‘Frustration’ when I was a kid, but now there are many versions available. It’s a great board game for car journeys- the dice is contained so can’t roll under the seat or fall down a gap. And the pieces are pretty large, so not easily dropped.

Paw Patrol - Paw Patrol Pop up Game

Quiet Road Trip Activities for Kids, Tweens & Teenagers

Road trip activities for kids and tweens- quiet childrens car games and things to do while travelling

Once the initial excitement wears off, it’s a good idea to have some quieter activities for them to get on with by themselves.

READ NOW: More quiet activities for kids – perfect for both at home and while travelling

Magnetic Drawing Board

These are brilliant! Allow your little one to draw again and again- without running out of paper or dropping their pencil. Hours of entertainment!

SGILE Large Magnetic Drawing Board - 4 Colors 42×33cm Doodle Pad...

Tell me I am not the only person who remembers these!?! I can’t believe they’re still going. I used to play with my Spirograph for HOURS when I was younger (like, last week…)

Spirograph - Travel Kit (33002154), Black, 10 Count (Pack of 1)

Sticker Books

These were a godsend when Jade was younger. We’d buy her a couple of sticker books and let her stick them in as she liked. Just expect stickers on your car doors- Princess Jasmine is destined to be in your car forever!!

Build Your Own Superheroes Sticker Book: 1 (Build Your Own...

Puzzle Books

My daughter has no patience for puzzles, but I used to do them for HOURS when I was young. (Still would, if I had time!)

I love ones like the Puzzle Quest range, where the puzzles are interconnected to create a story for them to solve.

The Missing Astronaut: Solve more than 100 puzzles in this...

I’ve only recently discovered Perplexus – but they keep ME entertained for HOURS. It’s a giant maze inside a ball which you have to get a metal ball through. It’s ridiculously addictive… just what you want from a road trip game. They come in different age ranges- there is even a Star Wars and Harry Potter version!!!

Perplexus - Harry Potter Prophecy

Best Children’s Audiobooks for Travel

We’ve tried all sorts of audiobooks and podcasts and there is a HUGE variety out there. My absolute favourites are the Harry Potter ones read by Stephen Fry – if you enjoy Harry Potter this is one for the whole family to listen to.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Book 1

You can get them (and many other kids audiobooks) FREE as part of Audible – the audiobook subscription service which allows you to rent audiobooks for an unlimited time; each child could pick their own to enjoy.

If you only listen to one book a month, it’s already paid for itself! Try Audible FREE for 30 days . It’s also full of great books for adults so you can get something for everyone.

Best Travel Activities for Kids- Books for Road Trips

If your little ones enjoy reading, books are a great way to keep them entertained. There are LOADS of children’s road trip books on Amazon. 

Alternatively, make use of your local library if you’re only away a short time- it’s a great place to get new books each trip.

Colouring Books

If your kids will colour quietly, this is a great idea. There are plenty of free printables you can print off and let them enjoy. They might even enjoy a map of the route so they can see where they’re going. Maybe you could get them to write notes and make a small journal for the trip! But you can also get colouring in packs if you don’t have a printer at home. Just add a car tray to avoid dropped pens!

THE TWIDDLERS - 72 Mini Colouring Books & 18 Crayons Sets for...

Childrens Car Games and Road Trip Activities- Make Them a Surprise Toy Bag!

I LOVE this idea. Pick up some cheap toys and put them in small bags (or even wrap them in foil) to be unwrapped at certain stages in the journey (first fuel stop, first 100 miles, first toll etc.) This gives them something to look forward to. You can also include some travel-friendly snacks, and some funny jokes to keep them amused

TOP TIP: Keep one toy back as a surprise in case of dire emergencies!

Best Car Games for Kids Online

Nintendo switch.

I’m a Tetris girl myself (and now I’m humming the music!!) but a handheld game console like a Nintendo Switch is a great children’s quiet car activity. There are a HUGE range of various games, for all ages and level of ability. Some of them are even educational.

Just insist they play either without the sound or with headphones on- or the beeps will drive you crazy!

Nintendo Switch Lite - Turquoise

Disney Now – Best Childrens Car App

Put Disney Now on an iPad, put their headphones on and enjoy a little quiet time. There are hundreds of shows to choose from- just remember you either need Wi-Fi or a way to stream if you haven’t downloaded anything in advance.

Spiderman Kids Headphones, Adjustable Headband, Stereo Sound,...

Get a seat organiser for the back of the seat, let each child pick a movie to watch. If you want to save your sanity, get wireless headphones that they can listen to at the same time. Hang an iPad on the back of the chair and turn the backseat into a movie theatre. (Popcorn optional but likely to end up on the floor!)

Ariesnova Car Organiser, 2 Pack Car Seat Organiser For Kids With...

Road Trip Activities for Kids- Tips to Help Your Road Trip Go Smoothly!

I may have only had one child to deal with, but I remember road trips when I was a kid- and how my favourite activity was torturing my little brother! So, your most important job is to stop squabbling. This only happens by setting firm, clear boundaries, ideally before the road trip starts.

If something goes under the seat , it is lost until the next break. We had to be very careful what we dropped (hence the string around the neck!) In the same vein, make sure their portable travel car seat is secure and approved- they will be doing a LOT of wiggling and squirming!

Try not to put things where kids can see them but can’t get to them – this will only lead to tantrums. Give them a few things to play with and hide everything else. You can change the toys at each rest stop.

A lot of these activities will depend on your little (or big!) ones. From the age of about 12, Jade would sit quietly with her headphones on, listening to music she’d downloaded. The only meltdowns came when she realised she was out of battery and/or wifi.

Plan breaks in advance – ideally somewhere with a park for them to let off some steam. If they know how far they have to go between stops, it can help them mentally prepare. Just add some extra time in case of traffic!!

If you are going hiking or camping with kids , make sure you have enough food, drink and changes of clothes; wet, tired and hungry kids are worse on the way home!!

I hope these tips helps keep your road trip go smoothly! Eventually, everyone gets sick of sitting in one place and kids are no different. The tantrums seem to happen just when you’ve had enough too!! Keep smiling – the adventure will be worth it! 🙂

More ideas you might find useful:

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21 perfect Road Trip Games & Activities for kids. Childrens Car Games. Road Trip with kids tips and things to do on long road trips. Best activities for road trips with kids | Games for Toddlers on road trips | Things for tweens to do on road trips | Best Board games for road trips | Childrens car games for long drives

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2 thoughts on “21 easy children’s Car Games & Road trip activities for kids”

Amazing.. This article has very interesting ideas for road trips. I just love your ideas and will share this article with my groups. Thanks a lot for these great ideas!

We used to play ‘Legs’. You spot a pub first and get one point for each leg in the pub name. “The White Heart” == 4, “The rose and Crown” == 0, etc. “The Kings Arms” was an interesting one as the ‘Arms’ are not actually body parts!

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A road trip classic, “I Spy with My Little Eye” is perfect for young children. Need a refresher? One person spots something inside or outside the car and repeats the line along with a clue, such as “I spy with my little eye, something that is blue.” Everyone else takes turns trying to guess the mystery item. The 1 st one to correctly guess is the next to take a turn.

2. I’m Going on a Picnic

Another classic! The 1 st person says “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing…” followed by an item that begins with the letter "A", like anchovies. The second player repeats the line with the first item, then adds a word beginning with the letter "B". The winner is the one who can recite the most items in alphabetical order.

3. Alphabet Hunt

Have everyone look for each letter of the alphabet using the road signs, licence plates and billboards that pass by. Begin with the letter “A”. The 1 st  person to get through the alphabet, in order, wins. (Alternatively, try and do the same thing with numbers.)

4. Spot the Licence Plate (or Car Model)

The person that spots different licence plates from the most Canadian provinces and territories or USA states wins. Or, see who will be the 1 st to spot a given number of different car models.

5. 20 Questions

This easy game is great for little ones. The 1 st  player thinks of a person, place or thing. Everyone else takes turns asking one question that can be answered with a simple yes or no. After each answer, the questioner gets one guess. The game continues until someone guesses correctly.

6. Once Upon a Time

Take turns creating a story together! The youngest person starts with the 1 st sentence, followed by the next youngest adding the next sentence, and so on. Add fun twists to the plot as you take turns crafting your own tale. You might want someone to record the fun on their smart phone, so you can all relive the tale when you arrive at your destination.

7. Word Follow Up

The 1 st player shouts out a word. The next player's word must start with the last letter of the previous player's word. For instance, if you start out with "towel," your child needs to come up with a word that starts with the letter "L".No repeating words! Add an extra twist by deciding on a theme before you begin, perhaps animals or countries (this game might not suit preschoolers).

8. Name That Tune

Before you leave the house, create a playlist on a digital device with songs everyone knows. Once on the road, play a few seconds of each song, the passenger then pauses it while everyone tries to be the 1 st  to guess the song. To up the challenge with older kids, try naming the song and artist. Mix it up with silly songs too, like “The Wheels on the Bus”.

9. Tic Tac Toe

This old standby is simple to play. You simply need 2 players, some paper and a pencil (but 2 might ease things up). Player 1 places an "X" on the grid, Player 2 then writes an "O". Turns continue until one player has 3 of the same letter across, down or diagonally. The minivan isar full of kids? Double the fun by having multiple games going on at once.

Turn a long drive into quality family time

Why settle for boring road trips and restless, whiny kids when you can play car games that make the journey enjoyable for everyone? Instead of hearing “Are we there yet?” from the back seat until you can’t take it anymore, you’ll enjoy peals of laughter and make great family memories.

For more on this topic, visit:

7 Car Games We Love

10 Fun Car Games to Play with your Kids

10 Top Car Games for Road Trips

Road trip with the kids: 9 fun car games to play

9 fun games to play with the kids to keep them busy on long road trips.

Heading out on a road trip with the kids? Beat boredom with these tried and true car games – and make backseat bickering a thing of the past. Short on ideas? Here is our pick for fun, free car games to make the kilometres fly by.

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