How to Keep Calm & Keep the Kids Entertained in the Car
“Are we there yet?”
“How ’bout now?”
“Can we go home?”
The questions never stop when you’re carting around a car full of kids! Make sure your next road trip is fun for the entire family with these tips for how to entertain kids in the car.
1. Set a few road rules.
Before the trip, set a few road rules like the ones below to help keep things under control. A few guidelines plus lots of fun and games will be key for a successful road trip.
- Keep your hands to yourself.
- Use inside voices (except if singing, of course).
- Take turns choosing the music and games.
- Positive vibes only (no bickering in the backseat).
- Keep things clean (throwing away trash and keeping game pieces contained will reduce stress).
2. Plan exciting road trip games ahead of time.
Family travel can be stressful—but it can also be fun! Plan things to do on a long car ride like the ones below to make the long hours on the road pass more quickly.
- Travel BINGO. Download printable BINGO cards and take stickers to mark the squares. Play the traditional way or download printable travel-themed cards that have things you might see on the trip, such as a stop sign, cow, or state line. When your kiddos see one of the objects on the drive, they get to mark the square.
- The Alphabet Game. Have your kids try to find something that starts with each letter of the alphabet in order from A to Z. You can also have them find the letters in signs instead. The first one to complete the alphabet wins.
- Trivia. Create a list of trivia questions before the trip. Divide into teams and try to answer the most questions correctly.
- Find 50 License Plates. Throughout the trip, try to spot license plates from all 50 states. Consider this one an all car, whole family thing to do!
- Twenty Questions. One person thinks of a person, place, or object. The other participants ask 20 yes-or-no questions to get clues before guessing what they think it is.
- Name That Song. Play random 5 to 10-second snippets of songs and see who can guess the song first. Take turns playing DJ.
- Mad Libs. Take a book of Mad Libs to make the whole car laugh.
- Would You Rather. Take turns asking Would you rather? to different serious or silly scenarios, such as “Would you rather have the power to be invisible or fly?” or “Would you rather only eat pizza the rest of your life or never eat pizza again?” Have everyone explain their choice.
- Rest Stop Olympics. Plan pit stops at designated rest areas along the way to let everyone stretch their legs and release some energy. Play Simon Says, set up a race for your kiddos, or lead some simple stretches or exercises to get out the jitters.
3. Bring additional solo activities to keep children entertained.
If you need a little peace and quiet on the road, these activities will go a long way toward keeping kids entertained in the car on their own.
- Audiobooks or podcasts.
- A tablet with downloaded movies or books.
- A portable gaming device, such as a Nintendo Switch, with their favorite games.
- Magnetic game boards, like checkers or chess.
- Friendship bracelets.
- A sticker book and/or coloring books.
- Crossword puzzles or Sudoku.
- Games to play on a smartphone or tablet, such as Toca Life, Vacation, Candy Crush, and many more that you can purchase or download for free. (Got a young one? Check out these apps for engaging and age-appropriate things to do with toddlers.)
- A virtual field trip to the American Museum of Natural History, the San Diego Zoo, and other cool places.
4. Prepare road trip snacks.
Eating is one of the most fun things to do on a long car ride with kids! Take a small cooler of drinks and snacks to keep everyone fueled up and any hangriness at bay. Pack them in an easily accessible place in the car. Let your kids help choose the snacks, but steer them toward healthier choices instead of junk food. Here are a few minimally-messy snack ideas you can make ahead of time:
- Fruits and vegetables (ideally without a peel or core), i.e., baby carrots, apple slices, grapes.
- Something salty, i.e., cheese sandwich crackers, popcorn, pretzels.
- Something sweet (but not sugary), i.e., fruit snacks, granola bars with chocolate chips, chocolate-covered almonds, yogurt-covered raisins.
- Bento-style lunch boxes (avoid fast food and have a picnic at a rest stop); pack things like a turkey sandwich, pretzels, a fruit or veggie, and a cookie for a yummy, balanced lunch on-the-go.
5. Ensure that you have other essentials.
Here are just a few more things you may want to take with you for smooth travels.
- First aid kit
- Hand sanitizer and hand wipes
- Resealable bag for trash
- Pillows and blankets for naps
- Electronics chargers and extra batteries
- Travel journal to record memories
Make Road Trips Fun with Rent-A-Center Tech!
When traveling with kids, it’s best to be prepared with fun things to do in the car! Shop online or stop by your local Rent-A-Center before hitting the road to get tech for kids of all ages. Rent-A-Center has options at a low cost, so you can have more to spend when reaching your destination.