7 Things to Bring on a Car Ride to Keep Kids Busy


Typically, we drive over 20,000 miles each year, and a majority of those are road trips we take around the country (read about why we love our Chevy Equinox here). So, we spend a LOT of time in the car. Luckily, our children are voracious readers and can spend hours reading in the car. But, eventually, even they start to look for other ways to pass the time.

Here are a few activities we pack for our trips; they work well in the car, or are easy to pack, and are fun for lounging by the hotel pool, playing in the hotel or beach house (read about our tips for packing for a beach house here), or even when waiting for a table at a restaurant.

1. License Plate game– We were gifted this Melissa and Doug wooden board years ago and take it on every trip. There are also paper versions available online that take up no room in the backpack or car.

2. Magnet bingo cards– Similar to the license plate game, these cards will keep kids alert to checking out the scenery during a card ride and can be played independently! They’re great for younger children who get car sickness from reading. However, most versions have small circle magnets that can be easily swallowed (and easily lost!) so best to save this game for kids won’t be tempted to eat the magnets. Alternatively, little kids could use small post it notes instead of the magnet 

3. 2. UNO card game- The classic game is easy to bring along in a backpack and even the toddler set can follow along with the rules. There is also a preschool version called UNO Moo. Grab the version that includes a tin container so you don’t lose the cards!

4. Exploding Kittens– Our daughter loves this game and it seems to be quite popular with middle/high schoolers. It’s a cross between UNO and with a great deal of chance, and I’m guessing the noises are funny to a lot of kids.  The creators have since added several editions and expansion packs. It does make noise, so not the best for restaurants, but entertaining (to an extent!) in the car. 

5. Monopoly Deal card game- A smaller, more compact version of the class board game that is transferred to a (large) deck of cards. The cards usually need to be spread out, so this is a better option for restaurants or lounging by the book. It can be played quickly, usually under 30 minutes.

6. Amazeing Fun Maze book– I may be bias because this book was created by a good friend’s children (10 year old twin boys drew every single maze by hand!), but my kids love the mazes and it keeps them busy for a long time- some of the mazes are hard! If you’re prone to car sickness, this would be a better option for restaurant wait or lounging by the pool. 

7. National Geographic Kids book series: National Geographic publishes some of our son’s favorite series. He loves the Weird but True, It’s a Number Game!, and the annual Almanac books.  He can open to any page and read a short story or description and hop scotch through the books. These series are filled with fun trivia that challenges the whole family and we often have competitions to see who gets the most questions correct- the winner picks the lunch spot. 

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  1. Magnetic games in the car are great! It helps with less spills and pieces lost. Great post.

  2. Magnetic games in the car are great! It helps with less spills and pieces lost. Great post.

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