We’ve taken more road trips than I can count on our combined fingers and toes, so when I say I know a thing or two about how to occupy kids during a long road trip, I mean it. These road trip activities for kids are truly the best if you want a screen-free ride.
I’ll never, ever forget one of the first road trips with my kids when we had to actually “entertain” them (back then we had a toddler and a baby). In my naive young motherhood state, I didn’t even think twice about giving my oldest (18-ish months at the time), some markers to color while we drove to our destination.
Silly, silly me. I was thrilled she was so quiet and coloring happily. I even remember saying that out loud a few times.
….and then I got her out of her seat when we got to our destination and literally gasped. Her arms and legs were covered in marker.
Thankfully, she didn’t color her face (the only part I could actually see in the mirror; we now have a bigger mirror to see all the things happening in the back). Since that moment we’ve made extra sure the road trip activities we have for the kids are mess free.
Awesome Road Trip Activities for Kids
These road trip activities are all relatively mess and noise free and “tested” on our three kids ages 1 year to 8 years old (use your own judgement for those under a year!)
Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring
Color Wonder is the holy grail of mess-free road trip fun for kids, and I think I did a double take when I discovered them all those years ago. It’s basically magic (or so we told our kids), and eliminates the need to take real markers, crayons, and/or colored pencils on the trip with you. There are so many options and characters to pick from, but the best part: NO MESS!
Melissa and Doug Water Wow!
Another mess-free road trip activity are these Melissa & Doug Water Wow! books. The water “paint brush” makes the images appear, which holds their attention as they go through the whole book. There are so many varieties (I especially love the “learning” ones), that they haven’t grown bored of them yet.
These Wikki Stix are so fun and give the kids literal hours of entertainment. Not only do they play together (they’ll attach the wax sticks and string them across the car), but they’ll make all sorts of designs with them. They regularly make glasses, bracelets, flowers, and anything else that pops into their heads. These are also great to take into a restaurant if you need something to entertain them before food arrives.
Pro tip: If you have lots of kids, get this bigger set and then make your own road trip bundles by popping a set of colors in small reusable bags for each kid
I’m not going to lie: I can’t wrap my head around how these little pop-it fidget gadgets buy us so much quiet time in the car, but they do, and we love them for it. The kids literally play with these for a very long time. They make up games or they’ll just sit there and literally pop each one of them. It’s delightful. Some parents say they hate hearing them pop, but it hasn’t bothered us….yet. I’d take some popping (not loud), over listening to them ask, “Are we there yet?” over and over again.
Talk about another awesome road trip activity for kids that all three of mine love! These window stickers are amazing and the kids think they’re extra fun. They make scenes and “trade” pieces with each other. Truth be told, these Melissa & Doug Reusable sticker books are big, and I wish they’d make them smaller (some people cut the pages or simply put the stickers in a reusable bag). We’ve also had luck finding some car window clings in the Target One-Spot area before…I only wish I bought more when I saw them.
If you have at least one kid who can read, get these TapleTopic cards ASAP! The kids love asking and answering the questions, and it keeps them happy in the car. (Also excellent to pop in your purse for family questions before dinner at a restaurant). They also have a road trip version, and a “to-go” kids version. (We have all of the ones linked, and they’re all great!)
Paint by Sticker
These Paint by Sticker books are for older kids with a bit more attention, or for younger kids working on their hand/eye coordination. Kids can have fun making picture and design come to life. *I just bought these for our next trip, so I’ll report back on how they are ASAP
Highlights Hidden Picture Sticker Fun
Just like the hidden picture activities (which we have and still love), this one takes it a step further with stickers, making it a perfect, road trip activity for a kid. *I just bought these for our next trip, so I’ll report back on how they are ASAP.
Even More Road Trip Activities for Kids:
- Would You Rather for Kids
- License Plate Game
- I spy with my little eye…
- 100 Things to do on a Car Trip
- Make up a scavenger hunt
- Pick a color and see who can find the most cars with that color
- Every time you see a cow say, “MOO!”
- Highlights magazines
qTell Me Your Faves
Of course, you can’t go wrong with some classic paper and a pencil, or a good book to read (if you have school-aged kids), but these road trip activities for kids have proved themselves time, and time, and time again. We love them, the kids love them, and it makes for a fun screen-free road trip!
You can find everything I listed above in my Amazon shop.
I’d love to hear about your favorite screen-free road trip activities for kids, so leave your faves below in the comments!