If you’re planning to travel in the car for a long stretch of time with your young children, you may be nervous about how you’re going to keep everyone entertained. Obviously, one of the easiest options would be to give your kids a phone or tablet or play a movie for them to watch. However, too much screen time can make kids irritable and prying kids away from their screens when they’ve gotten used to using them frequently can be a major challenge in itself. Try entertaining your kids with some screen-free activities on your next road trip, below we’ve listed a few ideas.
How to Entertain Kids in the Car Without Screens
You don’t have to spend a lot of time and money putting together elaborate activities to entertain your kids in the car without screens. Next time you plan to spend a lot of time in the car with your kids, try bringing some coloring books, magnetic toys and games, or a kid-friendly camera to encourage them to capture every moment of your trip. Keep reading for a full list of screen-free entertainment ideas to bring along on your next road trip.
1. Coloring and Activity Books
Coloring and activity books are not only entertaining but they also encourage creative expression and thinking. Get a travel tray for your child to use in their lap to give them a sturdy foundation for writing, coloring, and drawing. You can also get them some mess-free coloring options such as water coloring books.
2. Surprise Boxes or Bags
Fill up a paper bag or metal lunch box with small toys, snacks, and other fun items that your child isn’t used to playing with. You can reserve these boxes or bags for road trips specifically to give your child something exciting to look forward to and you have the freedom to make them as simple or as complicated as you’d like. The anticipation of finding out what’s inside of the box will be fun for your child and you can add a variety of small items that will keep them entertained throughout the drive.
3. Magnetic Toys and Games
Magnetic toys are always a lot of fun for kids and tend to be more travel friendly. Pick out a couple of travel-friendly board games that feature magnetic pieces so that your kids can play games without worrying about falling pieces. A magnetic board game is a great option when you have multiple kids in the back because they can engage in a game together. There are also individual magnet games that kids can play with on their own as well.
4. Join Them in the Back (if there’s room)
If you’ve only got one kid in the back of your car, or if you have enough space, why not sit in the back with the kids? You can engage in games with them, color and draw together, or just spend some time talking. Your children will likely appreciate the extra company and it may even be more comfortable than riding in the passenger seat. Riding in the back can be especially helpful when traveling with babies and toddlers since you can be there for extra support and comfort.
5. Listen to Music from Their Favorite Movie Soundtrack
Are there any musical movie soundtracks that your kids are really into? Play the soundtrack in the car and have a family singalong. This activity gives your kids a similar satisfaction to watching some of their favorite movies – such as Moana and Frozen – only without needing any screens. Singing is fun and relaxing for everyone and provides some quality time in the car as a family. If you can’t think of any movie soundtracks, just play some songs that you and your kids like and sing along together.
6. Talk About Where You’re Headed
Spend some time talking with your kids about the destination you're headed to. Tell them about what to expect and answer any questions they might have. This will get them excited about where you’re headed to and can help prepare them. You can even put together a travel journal or binder where they can document their memories from the trip. On your drive home, you can reflect on your road trip together and discuss some of the memories you made and ask your kids what they loved the most.
7. Give Them a Kid’s Camera
Invest in a kid-friendly camera for your children to document the trip from their own perspective. This is a fun item to bring along on the road trip since you never know what types of sights you’ll see along the way. Your kids will be excited to snap photos while driving down the road and it will give them some memorable moments to look back on when you return home. You can even create a photo scavenger hunt by putting together a list of objects ahead of time for your kids to attempt to capture while riding in the car.
8. When in Doubt, Break Out the Snacks
Food is one of the best ways to keep kids happy when riding in the car. Bring along plenty of non-perishable snacks such as granola bars, fruit snacks, dried fruit, apple sauce, chips, and crackers. If your kids start to seem irritable try handing them a snack to keep them relaxed. Most moodiness in kids is related to hunger and it can be easy to forget to eat when sitting in the car all day. Encourage regular snacking and if your kids seem extra fussy it may be time to stop for a full meal.
Traveling in the car with kids doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, it can actually be a lot of fun for everyone. Plan ahead with some fun activities for you and your kids to do together and always bring plenty of snacks for the car. Long car rides can be the perfect opportunity to bond and make memories as a family. Use this time to your advantage by putting away the screens and fitting in some quality family time.
The Pop N’ Go Playpen is a travel-friendly playpen that can easily fit in the trunk of your car when folded up.