How will my kids ever sit still and be quiet for that long?
I’ll never be able to survive with them in the car for all those hours!
Keeping your kids entertained in the car might be one of your biggest road trip fears but it shouldn’t be the reason that stops you from hitting the road for a family adventure. Sure, you’re stuck in the car for lots of time with your crazy kiddos but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to their whining and complaining or the beep of electronics.
With several 10+ hour road trips under our belt, we’ve found that some engaging screen-free options that are big hits for our kids, especially when we rotate the options. Here’s a list of some of our favorites toys for road trips for the next time your family hits the road!
10 Toys for Road Trips with Kids
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This is fun for the whole car. Each player gets a handful of cards that show various things to find on your road trip. You might be looking for a yellow car, a driver wearing a hat, or a license plate with the letter M. As players find their objects, they draw new cards and whoever has the most cards at the end wins. You can play for just a few minutes or until the cards run out and there are picture supports for non-readers, although I usually help out my younger son by reading his cards to him. Even the driver can play as she/he looks for objects.
This magnetic putty is a hot item in our car and comes with a strong magnet for playing with the putty (only safe for kids 3+). We hand this out with a cookie sheet lap tray and it seems to keep them busy for quite a while.
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Any puzzle or brain teaser is a great way to keep kids focused on something in the car. We have a Rubik’s Cube that my older son likes to play with and even my 5-year-old enjoys just manipulating. If your kids are younger, you could look for an easier game like pinball or a maze. Think about what will challenge your kids but not frustrate them.
A classic toy for a reason. You can play games, draw, or write messages back and forth and I love that it’s mess-free for the car. This one is colored rather than the old black and white version so it’s a little more interesting. A travel AquaDoodle is another option, but does require some water.
If you’ve got a storyteller or a kid who loves imaginative play, these magnetic scenes are perfect. Kids can move things around, tell stories, and spend time setting up scenes. There’s a ton of variety so you can find one that interests your kid. It helps to grab a plastic zipper bag to keep all the pieces together and we still use the cookie sheet lap tray for these to keep from losing pieces.
My kids both love anything dry-erase and my older son especially will spend lots of time on these wipe-off drawing books. If you’re not sure about younger kids using dry erase (it can stain) there are washable dry-erase markers. They’re not quite as vibrant but they do work well for little ones.
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I totally remember enjoying these as a kid and I love the variety they have now. These super hero ones are awesome and keep kids busy creating but I also love these two options from Melissa and Doug since they come in a travel case that holds everything. They’re probably best for kids 5+.
Another fun whole car game that lets the whole family compete in a friendly competition. There are tons of sets so you can pick one that’s just right for your kids and they’re small and easy to pack. Brain Quest is another great trivia option.
My son has these in his classroom and they are always, always being used. They’re excellent quality and I love the open-ended play they allow. A small set is perfect for the car and the magnetic feature makes sure they stay together and don’t get tossed all over the back seat.
Another magnetic puzzle for kids. I love that these require some logic and spacial reasoning (always a plus to sneak in a little learning). These travel sets keep everything organized with space to store both the tangram blocks and the puzzles in the same booklet.
Using Activities and Toys for Road Trips
For even more ideas on what to include in your road trip prep, make sure you check out my Road Trip for Families Series. You’ll find lots of great tips for packing and planning a trip that feels like a true family vacation full of great memories and not a Chevy Chase movie!
Got a great toy your kids love to play with on road trips? Leave a comment with your best tips! We’re always looking for new ideas for our travels.