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Road Trip Road Map: Making Travel Fun

Tear them away from their screens for a while with these activities.

Most of us dread traveling with kids. Traffic, layovers, delays, and just plain long trips can leave the most mature of us cranky, so it’s not surprising our younger passengers get antsy almost instantly. Thankfully, a few planned activities and a bag of tricks can make travel fun — there and back home again.

Great Games for Travel Fun

Window BINGO

Looking to make car or train travel fun? This game keeps kids alert and busy as they scan the world outside for items on their BINGO boards. Make boards by hand with a marker and white paper, or get creative on the computer before the trip by using photos or clip art for little ones who can’t yet read. Hand out stickers to cover spaces that have been found and the first to BINGO wins.

License Plate ABCs

Try to build the alphabet using just the license plates whizzing by on the freeway. Kids (and parents!) can scream out letters as they see them, allowing the family to work as a team.

Tally Up

Give each participant a blank scrap of paper and pencil, then pick a theme. Car-bound families may want to do car colors; those on a plane, shirt colors. Each player picks their color, then goes on a mad dash counting the items they see, tallying as they go to avoid losing count. After a set amount of time, compare and see who wins the search.

The Alphabet Game

Another great one for kids learning their letter sounds — look for items that begin with A, then B, then C, and so on. The game can be a team effort or alternatively, someone can take the right-side of the car and someone can take the left-side, and both battle all the way to Z.


A classic you probably played as a kid — and experience even as an adult. Also called Whisper Down the Lane, this game is also good for making travel fun. To start, whoever is “it” turns to the next player and whispers a statement in their ear. The second player then turns and whispers it to whoever is next, and so on. The final player must say the now-jumbled sentence out loud and then wait for the laughter to stop to learn the initial statement.

Humming Karaoke

Pick someone to be “it” and have them start humming a song. It could be a theme song, a popular tune from the radio, or a classic rhyme. The rest of the family takes turns shouting out guesses until the song is named correctly.

Going on a Picnic

How good is your memory? And how big is your picnic basket? In this game players take turns announcing they are going on a picnic and bringing a particular item. The next player must bring the previous player’s item, as well as a new one. As the game continues, the list gets longe

Twenty Questions

Another classic game that’s perfect for travel fun! The first player thinks of a person, place, or thing, and the rest of the travelers have 20 chances to ask yes or no questions and guess it correctly. For extra laughs, bring a pack of sticky notes and place ones scribbled with famous pop stars, zoo animals, or family members on the foreheads of your kids, flipping the game and making them guess who they are.

Three Truths and a Lie

Great — or maybe dangerous — for older kids. Take turns presenting two true facts and one made-up one to the rest of your traveling companions, making them guess the lie. How well do you know your kids?

The Movie Game

The first player selects a famous actor or actress and says their name aloud. The next player now has to name a movie that they were in. The next player has to come up with another actor or actress from that movie, and the game continues on. Mess up and you’re out until the next round.

Packable Items for Travel Fun

Toothbrushes and underwear aside, an entertainment bag for a trip can be the most important item you pack. We love these local finds for an extra stash of go-to fun.

eeBoo Tell Me A Story Cards

Telling each other stories is an age-old way to pass the time, but some kids may need help getting a tall tale started. Shuffle up eeBoo Tell Me A Story Cards depicting a theme like robots or forest friends, pluck a few from the pile, and use your draw to create a story. Or take turns picking the top card from the pile and working together to weave a tale together.

Meffert’s Gear Ball

The Rubik’s cube gets a modern make-over in Meffert’s Gear Ball, a spherical version where interlocking gears on three axes must be twisted and turned to get each side a solid color. Great for singular play, or take turns.

Melissa & Doug Water Wow

Kids can get artistic even when sitting on your freshly detailed leather seats. With the Water Wow line of coloring books, an included paint brush is simply filled with water, then brushed over specially made pages to bring the colors to life. Even better: Once the page dries, it’s ready to be colored all over again.

And for more road trip fun, check out 21 Totally Awesome Family Podcasts for Summer Travel!

Lead photo by Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels.