10 Ways to Keep Kids Busy on a Road Trip
As an on-the-go homeschooling parent, I’m always looking for ways to keep kids busy on a road trip. While I will try out some suggestions from time to time, there are 10 things that have consistently been helpful when it comes to keeping the kids busy and keeping my eyes and mind focused on the road.
This article is part 5 of a 10-day series of Homeschool Travel Tips. Traveling and experiencing is one of our favorite ways to learn, so I’m happy to share all our tips with you!
If there’s an opportunity for an educational road trip, you can bet that we’re going to do our best to make it happen. While I do love the opportunities road trips offer, it can sometimes be challenging to keep my kids occupied while we’re driving.
I get it. It’s not exactly fun to “just” be sitting in a seat for an extended period of time during a road trip, but….it is often a necessary part of homeschool travel.
Now that we have plenty of road trips under our belt, and I’ve had just as much experience figuring out ways to keep kids busy on a road trip…I’m more than happy to share my tips with you.
We homeschool parents have to stick together, right?
Let’s Get Road Tripping!
Ok. Picture this: you’re in the car, getting closer and closer to your destination as the minutes pass. Those kids, though. They’re getting antsy and, unless you want to pull a “stop fighting or I’m turning this car right around” bit, you gotta figure out a way to keep them both happy and busy.
I am ALL for letting kids “just” look out the window, but there are some circumstances that need some more exciting activities to be available.
It’s a good thing you’re reading this before going on a road trip, because most of these options are going to require some pre-planning. #yougotthis
Ways to Keep Kids Busy on a Road Trip…that usually work for me!
As long as your kids don’t experience car sickness, new books are a great way to keep the kids occupied during a road trip. Before heading out on the road, stop by your local library, load up the kindle, pack up the kids bookshelf. However your kids consume reading material, plan ahead and get a bunch ready for the trip.
And, if you don’t know whether or not your kids experience car sickness…well, you might want to pack a garbage bag or large bowl just in case. (I had to mention it!)
Timed Prize Packs
If you’re heading out for a “longer than usual” road trip, consider packing timed prize packs. To make a prize pack, you’d put some sort of small treat inside a container (bag, box, etc.) for each child in the vehicle. Then, at certain times throughout the road tip, the kids are allowed to open their prize pack.
You could even consider the prize packs to be something of a countdown to the destination!
Do a quick search online for car ride scavenger hunts or even a license plate hunt! Consider bringing along a clipboard to put the paper on while completing. The kids will love it!
Travel Size Games
Since I tend to go on road trips with my two boys, travel size games really come in handy for keeping them occupied. If traveling with one child, a set or two of conversation cards could certainly help to pass the time.
If you happen to have smaller children (probably ages 6 and under) one of my most successful ways to keep kids busy on a road trip was letting them play with Melissa & Doug Water Wow Books. I swear, they are worth their weight in gold! My kids absolutely loved them when they were younger.
Yes, I know. This one is pretty much a no-brainer. If you have video game systems that will travel, they could be a fabulous way to keep kids busy on a road trip. I’m pretty sure video games could keep my kids occupied for an infinity, so your kiddos could be the same way.
Bring along a few coloring books, print out some of my positive affirmation coloring sheets, pack up some drawing paper and washable crayons, pencils or markers (washable because car seats could be a perfect canvas!) and let the kids create some works of art while on the road trip.
You could even give them some artistic prompts to keep in mind as you drive down the highway. “Draw what you think the hotel will look like!” or, if you’re a lucky duck headed to Disney, “Draw a picture of Mickey and his friends!”
Have a favorite kid-friendly podcast? Stream it through the car speakers so the kids can listen and learn during the car ride.
Don’t have a favorite podcast? These seem to be pretty popular in our homeschool groups:
- Wow in the World
- The Past and the Curious
- But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
Take a break from reading books and listen to them! You could stream an audiobook through the car speakers or even have kids listen to seperate books on tablets.
Another technology suggestions, one of my tried and true ways to keep kids busy on a road trip is to let them watch a movie. Yes, a simple suggestion, but it works! Your vehicle may have screens built in or kids could use tablets to watch a new or favorite movie while heading to your destination.
No, I’m not talking about “just” listening to the radio (although I do LOVE the radio), but consider actually bringing along a new CD along. Pop the disk in at the beginning of the trip and listen to the whole album with the kids! Chat about song likes and dislikes, favorite lyrics, etc.
(sidenote: I just bought my first new CD in a while. Like a while. It was so much fun to show my boys the accompanying song lyric booklet and reminisce about relying on them to learn the words to new songs while growing up!)
Enjoy the Road Trip!
There are so many ways to keep kids buy on a road trip – this list is just scraping the surface of all the possibilities! Help out a fellow homeschooling parent and leave a comment below with your favorite ways for keeping the kids happy while in the car.
Until next time, stay safe and enjoy quality time with your family,
Elizabeth Dukart is a proud born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.
Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!
Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!