back to articles | November 29, 2022 | Staci Bailey

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

11 Tips for Keeping the Kids Occupied on a Road Trip

Keeping kids busy in the car can be a real challenge on long drives. Try out some of these ideas on your next road trip.


If you have kids and a vehicle then you probably know that keeping kids busy in the car can be a real challenge on long drives. Making sure everyone is feeling comfortable is a priority. Snacks can be a big help but there’s only so much the kids can eat.

Perhaps you remember the days when you were kept occupied with books and coloring. Possibly you’ve employed gadgets such as DVD players and video games. Those are great options but they may not be enough. Try out some of these ideas on your next road trip.

For Toddlers

It can be difficult to keep toddlers and preschoolers entertained on long road trips. Their short attention span and developing fine motor skills limit the kinds of activities these little passengers can handle.

1. Cookie Sheet Activity

An old cookie sheet and some magnets are great at keeping kids busy in the car. Little fingers can manipulate the pieces, sort them, and see them stick to the metal tray. Make it more educational by using magnets with shapes, letters, or numbers. Print out simple black and white pages with images that match your magnets and have your little one try to stick the magnet on the corresponding image.

2. Have a Sing Along

When the littlest kids get restless sometimes the best thing you can do is sing. Pass the time and have some fun by encouraging your kids to sing along with you in the car. Just make sure you’re singing songs they know.

3. Naps

Your littlest passengers are likely to get tired on long trips. Be prepared to help them settle in for a cozy nap. Car blankets, pillows, and a favorite stuffed toy can go a long way toward turning a car seat into a comfy place to snooze.

For Little Kids

Better dexterity and new skills open the door to more activities. Little kids have been around long enough to be experts at playing and can manage many toys with no help. Letter recognition and early reading is happening here so make the most of those hours in the car and take the opportunity to practice some of those developing skills.

4. Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a wonderful way to help build early literacy skills. This is especially true when little kids can follow along and see the words while they hear them. Keeping kids busy in the car can be as easy as a few audiobooks and a pair of headphones.

5. Scavenger Hunt

With a little preparation you can create an in-car scavenger hunt for your littles to do in the car. Think up a list of things your kids are likely to see on the way and let them check things off as they spot them during the trip. Keep it simple and print the words clearly so that little kids can try to sound them out and read themselves.

6. Photographer For The Day

A fun way to keep little kids occupied is to let them take pictures of things they see from the car window. A kid-proof digital camera is a great idea but an old cell phone can work just as well. It’s a pretty good way of keeping kids busy in the car and later they can look back and share the highlights of the trip.

For Big Kids

The game changer here is that bigger kids can read and write. They’re also big enough to help out with younger siblings. Big as they are they might still need a little help staying occupied on long road trips.

7. Vacation Diary

Pick up a nice hardcover notebook for your big kids along with some fancy pens, markers, stamps, and stickers. Give the kids these supplies at the start of the trip and ask them to create a diary or scrapbook of the vacation. You’ll be keeping kids busy in the car and they will be creating a keepsake while developing skills.

8. Where Are We?

For this one you’re going to need a good old-fashioned paper map which you can easily print from the internet. By reading road signs, and maybe taking a little peek at the GPS screen, your big kids should be able to find where they are and draw the route on their map. They can mark off places that you stopped and interesting sights along the way. As an added bonus they can be in charge of answering the question “Are we there yet?” when their siblings ask.

For The Whole Family

Some things work for all ages. Prior to departure, arm yourself with some versatile ideas that any member of the family can enjoy. You never know when you’ll need some extra tools to keep everyone happy on a road trip.

9. Shopping Trip

Take the family to the dollar store prior to departure and let everyone choose their own entertainment. Books, toys, arts, and crafts can all be purchased for just a couple of bucks. Set rules and boundaries, give them a budget, and let them shop.

10. Bring Everyone’s Favorite Songs

Music can be enjoyed by ears of all ages. Make sure that you have a selection of songs for each passenger. Take turns playing each person’s favorite music. Not only will you be keeping the kids busy in the car, it’s also a good opportunity for discovering shared interests and building those family bonds.

11. Stop And Enjoy The Journey

It’s easy to focus on the destination but the journey is a great opportunity to create some memories. Keeping kids busy in the car will be so much easier if you make stops and get out of the vehicle. It can be an outing to a new place or a quick stop at a store or restaurant. Even if you’re just stopping for gas, let the kids out of the car to run around and explore.

Few things can spoil a road trip faster than the wrong car. Assess your vehicle before you start planning your next adventure. Is there enough room for each passenger and plenty of space for everyone’s gear? If not, it might be time for a new car. Head over to myAutoloan and you could be enjoying a new set of wheels on your next road trip.