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Road trips are wonderful ways for families to travel. They allow you to create memories together. They teach you that travel is more about the journey than the destination. And they allow you to enjoy all the sights along the way. Yet, you can’t do those things if your kids have their faces glued to a screen the entire time. Getting your kids to pay attention to the world around them is as simple as having some fun activities for them to do in the car. So, not sure what activities are best for a memorable road trip? Here are 10 screen-free activities for road trips to get you started.
1. Play the License Plate Game
One of the best, and easiest, ways to get your kids to look out the window is to introduce them to the license plate game we played as kids. Have them pay attention to the license plates of the cars around you. You can all work together to see how many different states you can spot, or you can compete against each other to see who can find the most.
2. Play Color Cars
One of my favorite screen-free activities for road trips is a game I made up for my son several years ago called Color Cars. Basically, assign a point value to each color. For example, one point for white and five points for blue. Your children then get five points for each blue car they spot and one point for each white one. See who can get the highest score in a set amount of time or before the next pit stop. My son still loves playing this simple game!
3. Have a Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is a fun activity for kids to do in the car. It gives them a reason to pay attention to the world around them. Not only are scavenger hunts easy to do in the car, but they can easily be adjusted to be appropriate for any age. You can either make up your own or buy one such as Rubber Neckers.
4. Road Trip Karaoke
For some major bonding fun, play road trip karaoke. Simply turn on your family’s favorite playlist and encourage everyone to sing along. If you can’t agree on a playlist, take turns picking songs to sing. Or, choose a playlist themed to your vacation. For instance, if going to Disney World, sing Disney songs, or if heading to the beach, sing songs by the Beach Boys.
5. Play “I’m Going on a Trip”
When I was a kid, we played a game called “I’m Going on a Trip.” It was essentially a memory game. Basically, the first person says “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking _________.” The blank would be filled in with something that started with an A. The next person repeats the statement and then follows the first person’s answer with their own which starts with the letter B. You keep going through the alphabet adding each answer onto the others. When someone forgets an answer, they are either out or the game ends. In addition to being fun, this is a sneaky way to improve your children’s memories.
6. Play the Alphabet Game
Another old-fashioned road trip game that you can introduce your kids to is the alphabet game. Have everyone look out the window and see who can find each letter of the alphabet in order on various signs or other cars. You can up the fun factor on this one by competing to see who can find all the letters the fastest or who can find the most in a set amount of time.
7. Discuss Your Trip
Want a screen-free activity for road trips that gets everyone excited about the vacation? Spend some time discussing your trip. Talk about what everyone wants to do when you arrive. Give your family some teasers about the activities they can look forward to. Get everyone’s input and make a plan for each day. Find out what your children’s expectations are for the trip. To make your vacation even more amazing, use these discussions to plan surprises for your family. This is also a great way to practice conversation skills with your kids.
8. Listen to Audiobooks
Struggling to get your kids interested in reading? Spend some time in the car listening to audiobooks as a family. Pick out a few that you think will peak your children’s interest. To keep them interested after the trip, pick a book that you won’t be able to finish before reaching your destination or listen to the first book of a series. Then, give the rest of the series to your kids in book form after the road trip is over. My guess is that you will find them reading without any nagging on your part! If you are heading to Disney World (or are Disney fans), I recommend the Kingdom Keepers series. My son and I have read the entire series together several times. He loves it!
9. Study a Map
Another one of my favorite screen-free activities for road trips (that also involves learning) is to have your kids study a map of your destination. Ask them to find things such as your hotel, places to eat, and things they want to do. Have them give you directions from place to place. See if they can calculate the distance between two points. This can help engage them in the trip and make them feel like they are a part of the planning.
10. Play 20 Questions
Another easy screen-free activity for road trips is 20 questions. Take turns picking out an object while other family members ask yes or no questions until they can guess what it is. Pick things that are related to your trip. I’m always fascinated with how long this game keeps kids entertained!
- Add extra motivation for your kids to participate by offering prizes to the winners.
- Prizes can be anything from a special treat to extra spending money to first choice of beds or restaurants.
- Make sure you have the needed items for each of the activities you plan to use, such as your playlist, scavenger hunt lists, and audiobooks, before starting your trip.
- It’s a good idea to have a notebook and pen with you in the car so you can jot down some ideas on the fly or keep score during the games.
- Consider letting your kids make up their own games or versions of the ones above.
Road trips can be a lot of fun. And they are wonderful ways to create lifelong family memories. With a little inspiration and motivation from you, your kids will be forgetting all about their electronic devices while in the car. The above screen-free activities for road trips will help you get started! For more tips on road trips, see our ultimate guide to family road trips, the best snacks, how to pack like a pro, how to save time, how to handle child car sickness, and essential items for road trips. And check out our complete guide to happy travel with kids. Happy travels!