15 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained on the Road

Natalie Gomez
17th June 2015

Whining words from the back seat strike fear into the heart of even the most patient and prepared parent. So how do you entertain children on long car tripss? Tablets, DVD players and various other handheld electronics are the easy option, but there are plenty of more creative choices. Here are our favorites.

1. Maps

Print out your route from the internet and pick out some landmarks on the way for the kids to spot. 

2. Audiobooks

Classic and modern stories for all ages, which can often be borrowed from your local library or downloaded for free.

3. Podcasts

The modern equivalent of the CD, and a vast online library of words and music for kids.

4. Times table tests

If your children like math, quizzing them can help the miles pass. Sums relating to the trip, for example working out the distance to your destination or adding up license plate numbers, help build trip excitement.

5. Car colors

Challenge them to find vehicles of a certain color and the first to 10 wins. Choose pink for yourself for an easy ride.

6. Traditional travel games

Toy shops stock magnetic versions of family favorites such as checkers, Scrabble or backgammon.

7. Talk to each other

Pick a topic, such as where you should go on your next family vacation, and get everyone contributing.

8. Play 21

A family-friendly version of an old drinking game. The driver starts by shouting “one.” Work around the car until you reach 21. Whoever is last to talk replaces a number with a word – the funnier the better – then starts the count again from one. Keep going until there are no numbers left.

9. Sing songs

Fill the iPod with favorite pop tunes that everyone knows and play them through the car stereo. Take turns to do a solo.

10. Build a story

Start with the first line of a tall tale and then take it in turns to add the next sentence.

11. Restaurant Baseball

Each child spots restaurants and bars on their side of the road and claims one run per leg in the name. So Chile’s gets nothing, but Three Horses is a gamer-changer.

12. Sewing cards

Younger kids love the calming repetition of threading colored string to build up a picture or pattern.

13. I Spy

An old favorite, but great for getting younger kids to think about language and spelling. For an extra challenge, try it from A to Z.

14. Bags of fun

Needs preparation, but give the kids a small paper bag after 25 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles, etc. It could be a sweet or something to do with the vacation.

15. 20 Questions

Use sticky notes on the kids’ foreheads, each with the name of a celebrity or teacher written on it, then they ask questions to guess their identity.

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