One of the biggest challenges when it comes to traveling full-time with kids is finding ways to entertain little ones in the car. Sure, it isn’t really your job to keep them busy, but it truly does make your time on the road more pleasant when the kids are happily (and quietly) playing away in the backseat.
Whether you’re brand new to the traveling lifestyle or a seasoned veteran, there’s a good chance some fresh ideas for backseat entertainment would be valuable to you. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite options. Hopefully, there are some new ones here for you to try. You might even find your new favorite road trip activity!
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Wonderful Road Trip Books
Let’s start with books. After all, everyone loves to see their kids reading, and if it keeps them quiet in the backseat that’s a bonus, right?
Below are some of our very favorite road trip books. That said, any book your kid loves is probably a good option.
These book collections are wonderful to listen to as a family, and because there are multiple books in each collection, they will last many driving hours. Try stopping after each chapter to discuss it before moving on to the next part.
- The Wizard of Oz Series
- The Harry Potter Series
- The Fudge Series
- The Penderwicks Series
- The Tales of Magic Series
- The Percy Jackson Series
- The Paddington Bear Series
- The Moffats Series
- The Little House Series
- A Series of Unfortunate Events
- The Roald Dahl Collection
- The Beverly Cleary Collection
Physical Books (and Magazines)
Better when read by an individual, you’ll want physical copies of these books so you can hand them over and enjoy the peace they bring:
- Where’s Waldo? Series
- National Geographic’s “First Big Book” Series
- Lonely Planet Kids Books
- Highlights Magazines
- DK Eyewitness Series
- Usborne Activity Books
Awesome Podcasts for Road Trips
Another great way to keep kids happy during long trips is by putting on a podcast. Listening as a family is great fun and can lead to some awesome discussions. That said, if you need to talk with the driver or simply need a break from noise, there’s no shame in handing the kids some headphones to listen on their own.
Some of our favorite kids podcasts include:
- Story Pirates — Songs and sketch comedy based on stories written and submitted by kids.
- Brains On! — Great science podcast that makes you think.
- Wow in the World — Silly yet educational science podcast.
- Tumble — Stories of science and discovery.
- Storynory — Great stories for kids.
- But Why — Another science podcast that encourages curiosity.
- The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian — A super fun serial sci-fi story.
- What If World — Explores what might happen in strange scenarios.
- Ear Snacks — A short and sweet podcast that offers interesting tidbits.
- The Past and the Curious — A fabulous podcast about history.
- The Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl — A new collection of fun music each week.
Amazing Travel Day Music
Want even more great stuff to listen to? Obviously, you could just put on some of your favorite tunes, but the kids might enjoy playing something geared toward them for a while. In fact, you might find yourself singing along as well.
Try these pint-sized albums on for size:
- Giants of Science by the Pop Ups
- Sugar Free Allstars by Sugar Free Allstars
- Nothing is Impossible by The Story Pirates
- Keep It Real by Caspar Babypants
- Ready or Not! by the Not-Its!
- Fireflies by Mister G
Great Car Games for Kids
Looking for some good games to pass the time? Road trip games have been around since the invention of road trips, and it’s likely you already have one or two up your sleeve. Still, it’s nice to get some fresh ideas from time to time. Therefore, we’ve collected a whole list of awesome car games for you to try:
- The Alphabet Game — This game requires that you find every letter of the alphabet in order, using signs and license plates.
- The License Plate Game — Try to find a license plate from every state. Mark them off as you go.
- Road Trip Bingo — Purchase some road trip bingo cards and have a blast finding things outside.
- I Spy — One person finds an object that everyone can see and gives a clue as to what it is. Other players have to guess the object.
- 21 Questions — The first player thinks of a person, place, or thing and tells the other players what category their thing falls under. Other players then ask yes-or-no questions to try to figure out what it is. They have 21 questions to figure it out or the first player wins.
- The Singing Game — First player starts a song, second player has to jump in with another song beginning with the last word the first player sang. Play continues like this until nobody can think of another song.
- Categories — Choose a category (such as fruit, animals, movie stars, etc). Everyone (except the driver) claps out a rhythm in unison. Going around the car, each player must say the name of one thing in that category without missing a beat.
- Add-on Storytelling — One person begins a story, and each person takes a turn adding a bit, creating an outrageously silly story that will have everyone giggling.
- Would You Rather? — Start some great conversations by asking “Would you rather…” questions. For instance, one player might ask, “Would you rather eat raw squid or a french fry you found on the sidewalk?” Everyone then must answer the question and give their reasoning.
Children’s Tablet Apps for Long Rides
A tablet can be a great tool for filling time on long trips. That said, you don’t really want to hand the tablet over and allow your kid to do whatever they wish. Instead, most parents prefer to seek out wholesome, educational content for their kids to interact with.
Below are some of our favorite tablet apps for kids that we feel fit this criteria:
- Teach Your Monster to Read — Perfect for kids learning to read!
- DragonBox Math Apps — Great math practice for all levels.
- Sushi Monster — More math practice at the elementary level.
- Scratch and Scratch Jr. — A fun way to learn to code.
- Stack the States for iOS (also available on Google Play and Amazon) — Wonderful addition to travel for learning about US geography.
- Duolingo — Learn new languages.
- The Barefoot World Atlas App — A gorgeous introduction to world geography.
- Tinybop Apps — Several fun science app options.
Road Trip Snacks for Kids
Even with all the entertainment in the world, you aren’t going to be able to keep the kids happy for long without some sort of snack. That said, bags and boxes of junk food are far from the best choice, especially when you travel often. Try these options instead:
- Applesauce pouches
- Dried fruits
- String cheese
- Yogurt tubes
- Beef jerky
- Whole grain crackers
- Trail mix
- Rolled-up lunch meat
- Whole or sliced fruits
- Raw veggies
Keep cold foods in a small cooler filled with ice packs and kept between the front seats. This makes it super easy to grab a snack while still keeping everything chilled. Just don’t forget to put it all back in the fridge at the end of the day.
Tips for Taking a Road Trip with Toddler-Aged Kids
Of course, traveling with a toddler is a bit different than traveling with older kids. In many ways, it is more challenging, and many of the suggestions above won’t apply. Therefore, we wanted to add a few toddler-specific road trip tips to help those who are traveling with people of this younger age group:
- Potty in the Vehicle — You never know when the need to potty may strike. Sure, you may have a whole bathroom with you in your RV if you are bringing an RV along, but depending on your setup, getting into it may not be the easiest thing. In these cases, we recommend keeping a small potty in the car and lining it with a disposable diaper to make clean up easy.
- Easy-to-Clean Car Seat — It’s no secret that toddlers are messy. For this reason, you will definitely want to go with an easy-to-clean car seat. Not sure how to tell if a seat is easy to clean? Look for one with an easy-to-remove cover and very few nooks and crannies. This seat is often touted as such.
- Spill-Proof Cups and Snack Cups — Toddlers may be messy little people, but that doesn’t mean they want snacks any less than the older age group. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure to invest in some truly spill-proof cups, as well as some snack cups such as these, which help prevent major messes in the backseat.
Tips for Taking a Road Trip with a Baby
On another level entirely is road tripping with a baby. If you’ll be traveling with a baby, you may feel overwhelmed by the idea. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be terrible. Try the following tips to make all your baby-filled travels happy ones:
- Frequent Stops — Stopping regularly is the number one key to keeping baby happy during road trips. By making stops every couple of hours to feed, change, and snuggle your little one, you’ll be well on your way to a wonderful trip.
- Sunshade — Having the sun in your eyes is never fun. This is just as true for baby as it is for you. Fortunately, installing a sunshade such as these on both backseat windows can quickly solve this issue.
- Sit with Baby — If your little one is getting restless partway through your trip, considering sitting in the backseat next to them. Often, babies just want someone to keep them company.
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