Keeping the kids entertained and happy on a long journey can be a challenge at the best of times, let alone when you’re taking to the road for a much-needed getaway. So, on your next family holiday, banish the words “I’m bored” or “Are we there yet?” by arming yourself with these fun activities and road trip games that you can easily prep before you go.

Classic Games to Play in the Car

It’s not a proper road trip until you’ve played a round of I-spy. For little ones, stick to colour-based clues (“I spy something green”) and move on to using letters when kids have mastered their spelling skills. Another great game to play is Spotto, where the whole family hunts for yellow (or any other colour) cars. Just make sure you’re playing by the “official rules” as set out by the International Spotto Federation! You can up the ante with any spotting-type games by handing out binoculars, notepads and pencils

When you’re done with those road trip games, switch things up with a Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament or try a memory-based game, such as “I went to the shops today and I bought…” where each player adds a different item to the list. Or, if you’ve got a pen and a stack of sticky notes, you can also play a few rounds of Celebrity Head. Write the name of a famous person on a sticky note, attach it to someone’s forehead, and then get them to ask questions to work out the celebrity’s identity.

An assortment of items for kids to use on road trips, shown on various brightly coloured backgrounds. Products include things like pencils, notepads, card games and binoculars.

What to Try

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Educational Road Trip Games

Write-and-wipe books and flashcards are engaging and easy to travel with as there’s no mess or fuss. Boost kids’ vocabulary and spelling skills and play verbal word games like Buzz Off, where you spell words as a team by each saying the next letter then, once you’re done with the word, the next person says “buzz” and the next “off”. Anyone who misspells the word is out – keep going until there’s one winner.

The new Kadink Magnetic range is also perfect for kids to play in the car because you’re less likely to lose the pieces as they magnetically snap onto the board. Each set is colourful and fun, and can help develop essential literacy and numeracy skills while letting kids explore and experiment. 

Or, try playing The Alphabet Game, and take turns to name animals or food or movies with each letter from A through to Z. Are you a family of trivia buffs? Plan your road trip games ahead and write your own movie, sport and geography questions on some index cards.

What to Try

SEE ALSO: The 10 Best Incidental Learning Activities for Preschoolers

A young girl in a striped shirt reading a picture book in the backseat of a car.

Pencil and Paper Activities for Kids

Old-school activities like drawing and colouring are engaging and creative, plus they’re proven to calm kids down – a definite plus on a long drive when they start to get fidgety. Give each passenger a colouring book or drawing pad, a lap desk and a pencil case stuffed with markers, pencils and crayons, and you’re good to go.

Another road trip option is a mini whiteboard for doodling, drawing and playing games like Hangman and Noughts & Crosses. For toddlers and preschoolers, stay safe with mess-free colouring options – the Crayola Color Wonder range uses invisible ink that only shows up on special paper. Another great option are the Melissa & Doug Water Wow books, which allow little ones to “paint” with a water-filled brush. You can dazzle the primary school set with scratch paper and sticker activity books, while older tweens and teens can keep busy by starting a travel journal, trying out calligraphy and origami, or that old standard – reading a book. Challenge those older ones to unhook off their devices for a while; you can sell it to them by saying they are saving battery for selfies when you get there.

What to Try

SEE ALSO: How to Improve Handwriting for Kids of All Ages

Fun Car Games for the Whole Family

Boost the mood on a long drive with a playlist of party-starting songs. Add a hairbrush or other make-believe microphones and a portable speaker if you need one and you’ve got karaoke on-the-go. Try this list of 100 song suggestions for group sing-alongs, everything from ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ from the animated film ‘Encanto’ to Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’. You could also sing favourite nursery rhymes for the littlies.

Other ways to entertain the gang during car rides are audiobooks and podcasts aimed at kids and families, like the Harry Potter series on Audible narrated by Stephen Fry. Or try ‘Imagine This’, a clever science investigation show that’s made by ABC Kids.

On the flip side, sometimes it’s nice to have a little quiet time on a long journey. Once you’re on the last leg of the journey and done with all the road trip games and family bonding, hand out the headphones and digital devices so that kids can play games, listen to music or watch a movie – and you can breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief. Just don’t forget to pack the charging cables and powerbanks!

An assortment of electronics that families can use on road trips, shown on various brightly coloured backgrounds. Products include things like headphones, speakers and powerbanks.

An assortment of electronics that families can use on road trips, shown on various brightly coloured backgrounds. Products include things like headphones, speakers and powerbanks.

What to Try

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Craft & Play Timetable: 14 Activities for 14 Days