How to Keep Your Kids Entertained on Long Car Trips

by Staff Blogger | December 23rd, 2019

Whether you are taking a roadtrip for vacation, or are visiting family for the holidays, traveling with small children can often be frustrating, especially when you need to keep your eyes on the road and be ready to react to bad drivers at any moment. Being distracted by cries of “I’m bored”, “are we there yet?”, or “my sibling won’t stop poking me” are the last thing you need while driving!

The team at Berg Injury Lawyers know how that can be, which is why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to keeping your kids entertained on your next car trip.

Must-Pack Items

Consider this your checklist when you next pack for a long car ride.

  • Kid-friendly books and/or activity books, or a kid-friendly electronic device such a tablet, portable DVD player, MP3 player with headphones, or other child-friendly electronic device, with the charger or spare batteries
  • Healthy snacks that won’t make a hard-to-clean mess if they spill
  • A lap desk—cookie sheets make a cheap and easy alternative that most people already have at home
  • Toys small enough to easily play with while seated, but large enough not to fall and become lost underneath the seats
  • Paper towels, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer to clean up messes
  • Garbage bags
  • A travel pillow
  • A disposable camera, which kids can use to take pictures out the window

Tips for Traveling with Kids

These tips are parent-tested and approved.

  • Get your kid involved in packing: allow each child to select for themselves at least one item (toy, game, or book) to bring along.
  • Make sure children requiring car seats are secured and fastened in. A study from 2015 found a startling 95% of parents make a mistake when installing a car seat, and a cranky child may be motivated to escape from their seat while their parents’ eyes are on the road.
  • Depending on how many children you have, and if any are old enough to sit up front, consider having one parent sit in the back to make it easier to get face-to-face time with the children.
  • If your child is prone to motion sickness, consider kid-friendly audiobooks rather than books or screen-time. Many libraries offer audiobooks for check-out, and several apps allow library-card holders to download audiobooks to their phones or tablets for free.
  • Plan your stopping points for lunch and bathroom breaks ahead of time, and remember that you will need to stop more frequently with small children. Plan to stop for a bathroom break around 20-30 minutes after a meal stop.
  • Consider making “snack jewelry” by looping circular snacks, such as cheerios, pretzels, or candy, onto a piece of string and allow your kid to snack at their leisure.
  • Reward good behavior by portioning out a new snack or toy every hour, instead of making all of them available at the start of the trip.
  • Avoid the “are we there yet?” with a trip tracker. Print out a map of your route and at each stopping point or major landmark (such as a state border), have your child place a sticker on the map so they can see for themselves how far they’ve gone, and how far they have left to go.

Conversation Games You Can Play Without Paper or Pens

When you don’t have toys or activity books, or when your kids lose interest, everyone can have fun with these games that don’t require any pieces or materials, just players.

20 Questions

One player thinks up an object, but does not tell the other players what it is. The other players can ask up to 20 yes-or-no questions to try to guess what the mystery object is. Examples of questions could be, “Is it smaller than a person? Is it an animal?” and so on.

Guess the Word

One player can trace a short word on the arm, back, or palm of another player using only their finger, and the player being written on must guess what that word is by the shape of the letters as they are being traced.

The Alphabet Game

Each player must find every letter of the alphabet on road signs, store signs, billboards, and so on (license plates cannot be used). However, they must be found in order. For example, if a player spots the letter ‘x’ before they’ve found a ‘w’ and every letter before it, it cannot be used. The first player to spot every letter of the alphabet wins.

License Plate Abbreviations

Players must come up with what the random letters found on a license plate of a passing car stand for. For example, a license plate that reads “TSD” might be imagined to stand for “The Silly Dog”. Whichever player comes up with the most amusing answer wins.

Alphabet Categories

After selecting a category, (ex: food, animals, cartoon characters, etc.) players take turns coming up with one answer for each letter of the alphabet, in order, that fits the category. For example, if the category is food, answers might be apple, banana, cake, and so on.

The Picnic Game

Players take turns describing what food items they are bringing to a picnic, with each player adding one additional item starting with the next letter of the alphabet. The longer the game goes on, the longer the list grows, and the more items each player must remember. For example, the first player must remember “apples”, the second player must remember “apples and bananas”, the third player must remember “apples, bananas, and cake”, and so on.

A, My Name is Anne

Players take turns moving through the alphabet and filling in the phrases, “My name is”, “I come from”, and “I have a suitcase full of” with words that start with that letter of the alphabet. For example, the first player might say, “My name is Anne, I come from Alabama, and I have a suitcase full of apples,” while the second player might say, “My name is Bert, I come from Bermuda, and I have a suitcase full of bananas.”

Team Storytelling

Each player takes turns supplying one sentence of a story, forcing players to stretch their imagination when another player takes the story in a new direction.

The Counting Game

Players taking turns counting, with the goal being to count up to 20. The first player says “one,” and then another player must say “two” and another “three” and so on, but players do not have to respond in a particular order. However, if more than one player responds at the same time, all players must start over from “one”, and if more than five seconds pass without any player responding, all players must start over from “one.”

Download Our Free Activity Book

If you are looking for more ways to keep your kids entertained in the car, the team at Berg Injury Lawyers has prepared a fun, free activity book. Download this book, print it out before your trip, and enjoy! Our book includes:

  • Coloring pages
  • Word searches
  • Mad libs
  • Mazes
  • Tic-tac-toe

After a Car Accident, Call Berg Injury Lawyers

Car accidents have the potential to be devastating, whether they occur on a roadtrip while you’re hundreds of miles from home, or on your daily commute. If you or someone you love were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, we want to help you. When you trust the experienced California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ll work hard to build a claim that proves your accident wasn’t your fault and get you the compensation you need to try to get your life back to normal.