A long car ride can be ideal for quality family time, interesting conversations and entertaining activities—if you make it a screen-free trip!
The most important tip to keep in mind when taking a road trip: Don't be afraid of a little boredom. It's natural and okay for kids to experience occasional bouts of boredom on a long car ride. A car trip is the perfect opportunity for children to spend some time in their own heads for a while. Looking out at the scenery, they can let their imaginations roam and experience a little wonder.
That said, it's still always helpful to have some fun screen-free play ideas to help make the miles pass!
Family road trip play ideas
Here are two dozen quick and easy ways to pass the time on a long car ride. Whenever possible, try to put your own spin on the activity (giving it a funny name, for example) for extra-special memories.
Give kids an old-fashioned paper map to follow your route. (Rest areas often offer them for free.)
Play "I see something..." ("I see something blue, and it begins with the letter 's.")
Play the license plate game and see how many states you can spot.
Give kids notebooks and crayons and different 2-minute drawing challenges: ("Draw what you plan to do at our destination!" "Draw your dream house!" "Draw a car from the future!")
Play the alphabet game where you take turns coming up with a name, location and item for each letter: "My name is Anna. I come from Alaska, and I'm bringing apples on this road trip!"
Count cars. Pick a color or model and see who can find 10 first.
Play 20 questions. One person thinks of an object. Another player asks up to 20 yes-or-no questions to guess what that object is.
Have a spelling bee.
Look for pictures in the clouds.
Read a book. Especially nice for older siblings to read to younger ones.
Sing together. Belt out some favorite tunes or make up lyrics to a special family song.
Play the quiet game. The last child to make a sound wins.
Make up a family trivia game ("Which family member's first word was "ball"? "Who in this car is a brother, a cousin, and an uncle?")
Play dots, tic tac toe and other easy pen and paper games.
- Fold up foil—get creative to see what you can make!
Try tongue twisters: two of our two-word favorites: "Irish wristwatch" and "Unique New York"!
Play "Would You Rather" by making up silly scenarios, such as, "Would you rather eat a tiny piece of moldy cheese or smell your big brother's socks?"
Make paper Fortune Tellers and take turns asking it questions. (Find folding instructions here.)
Do an alphabet scavenger hunt looking for objects along the road that start with each letter!
Pick an object and race to be the first to find a certain quantity of them ("Who can spot 20 cows first?" "Who can spot 12 yield signs first?")
Make up age-appropriate, travel related math challenges. ("If the sign says 100 miles to our destination, how far do we have to travel to be halfway there?")
Try to make sentences with as many words with the same letter as you can ("Adam ate an apple at an arcade.")
Start drawing a picture and pass it to the next person to add on to it.
Create a poem together by by taking turns contributing rhyming lines.