The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Entertained on a United States Road Trip

Road trips with kids can be both exciting and challenging. While hitting the road and exploring new destinations is always a fun adventure, keeping kids entertained during long hours on the road can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep kids entertained and engaged during a road trip in the United States.

Here are some tips and ideas to help you plan the ultimate road trip adventure with your kids.

road trip

Pack plenty of snacks and drinks

In my family, keeping the peace requires keeping everyone well fed. When you’re on the road, hunger and thirst can strike at any time. Pack plenty of healthy snacks and drinks such as fruit, crackers, granola bars, water bottles, and other goodies they enjoy.

We always travel with a reusable grocery bag full of snacks as well as a mini-cooler full of drinks. This also helps us avoid junk food stops and pricey snack binges!

The second important key that we learned through trial and error is that accessibility matters. No one likes to be in charge of the snacks or the cooler if they have to traverse an obstacle course of hinges or containers to do the job.

Consider the dexterity and strength of those little bodies before you load up your munchies. We love this Yeti cooler. It has a very simple hinge, and it fits perfectly between our second row bucket seats. It also makes a great extra seat around a campfire!

When you’re travelling to national parks, it’s especially important to food options in the car. There have been many times that we’ve returned from a hike and been teetering on “hangry.” Snacks are the answer to many of your travel problems!

(Note that in some national parks with heavy bear activity, it is advisable to remove all food and scented items from your vehicles when you park overnight.)

Plan fun activities and games

Before you hit the road, some fun activities and games that you and your kids can do while on the road. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Word games: Play word games such as “I Spy” or “Name that Tune” to keep kids entertained.
  • Travel bingo or scavenger hunt: Print out travel bingo cards, which you can easily find online, and give each child a card. Then, as you drive, have them look for items on their cards, such as a red truck, a blue sign, or a green tree. The first person to find all the items wins. We have also printed road trip scavenger hunts, laminated them, and attached them to clip boards with wet-erase markers.
  • Fun activity books: Use a funny fill-in-the-blank book such as this one by National Geographic to keep everyone laughing. I love these books for quick reconnections after we’ve all been focused on other car activities or conversations. Mad Libs is another big hit in my family. Plus, it makes my English teacher heart so happy that the kids are practicing their parts of speech!
  • Audio books & Podcasts: Listen to an audio book or two together. This can be a great way to relax and bond as a family. Did you know you can rent audiobooks for free from many libraries? If you don’t have one near you, look for an open membership library such as the Houston Public Library. You can join and borrow as you please!
  • Portable DVD player or tablet: Bring along a portable DVD player or tablet loaded with movies and TV shows for the kids to watch. Just make sure to bring headphones so you can drive in peace. Bonus tip, always, always, ALWAYS have back-up headphones! I keep a stash of dollar-store earbuds for emergencies!
  • Do a “challenge!”: In my family, we have heard a lot about “challenges” lately. They are mostly questionable activities that online creators engage in to shock the world, but it has elevated the excitement level of the word “challenge.” If your kids are competitive, set a goal and see who wins. The quiet game is fun, but it’s not a real draw for the littles. (Keep trying, though!) You could set a challenge to see how quickly people can spot various forms of wildlife, how quickly they can identify 10 unique car brands, or how long they can hang their tongues out of their mouths without slobbering! Hey, the world is your oyster! Bonus points if you have a prize to offer the winner;)

Try to find at least one interactive activity for the journey. Even a set of family conversation starters could yield many meaningful moments. Even though we are in the age of electronics, taking some of your drive time to be playful and reconnect with the family is worth your time.

Make regular stops

Admittedly, our family struggles with this tip, but it is invaluable for those with high energy crews! While it’s tempting to keep driving to reach your destination as quickly as possible, making regular stops can be key to preventing boredom and restlessness.

Plan to take breaks every couple of hours to stretch your legs, use the restroom, and get some fresh air. If you have time, consider visiting a nearby park, beach, or other fun attraction.

Search for fun along your route with the RoadTrippers app.

Even if you are in very remote areas of country, rest stops will often have green spaces for a quick game of tag to expel all of the sillies!

Make the Road Trip educational

Road trips can be a great opportunity to teach your kids new things!

Bring along educational games and books that will help them learn about geography, history, and science.

For example, we always keep this National Parks Trivia cards. Our kids love to stump us, and we love to test our skills!

By following these tips and ideas, you can keep your kids entertained and engaged during a road trip through the United States. A road trip is a great opportunity to spend quality time with your kids, create new memories, and explore new destinations. So pack your bags, grab your map, and hit the road for the ultimate family adventure!

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