Kellye Fox | 

11 Sanity-Saving Family Road Trip Hacks & Games for Kids

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Going on a family road trip with kids is no easy task! First, there’s the incessant asking of questions. Then, the pouting when boredom hits…and, of course, the mess left in your vehicle once you’ve reached your destination.

Fortunately, I know these road trip hacks work and will address those issues. In fact, they have saved my sanity on road trips in the past. Use them, and find a bit more relaxation on your family vacation.

Want to find some deals on games? KCL knows all about saving money and how tough parenting can be. As family road trip season begins, we hope these tips will relieve some of the stress. Also, be sure to secure everything so no flying toys hit you in the head while driving.


1. Use a bucket-and-pulley system to pass toys and road trip games back and forth in the car.

A child sitting in a car, placing a toy airplane into a bucket that is hanging from a string in front of them.

All you have to do is thread a sturdy rope or string between the front- and back-seat grip handles on the ceiling of your vehicle, then add a metal bucket or soft plastic bucket to the rope and tie it off tightly. You can then safely send the bucket back and forth as needed during your trip — and the kids will love this road trip hack!


2. Fill plastic Easter eggs with surprise road trip snacks and keep them safe in an egg carton.

A child sitting in a car holding a cardboard egg carton filled with opened plastic Easter eggs on their lap. Each egg is filled with a different type of snack or candy.

Assembling road trip snacks for kids can be a real headache for multiple youngins, so here’s a way to satisfy everyone and manage to stay organized. Fill plastic Easter eggs with your kids’ favorite snacks, and store them in an empty egg carton. This is an easy way to transport snacks, and they can choose their own treat.


3. Attach chalkboard paper to an old baking tray for a portable road trip activity for kids.

A child sitting in a car holding up a DIY baking tray chalkboard with a picture of mountains and a sunset drawn on it.

Chalk is a pretty common road trip essential for kids, so why not make it a fun activity. Tape chalkboard paper to the baking sheet so that they can create travel art.

Or, spray an old sheet tray with chalkboard paint and let it dry thoroughly before packing it for your trip. Let them draw pictures of you or what they see as your drive. Bring colored chalk and pack them in a Ziploc bag for easy storage.


4. Design a fun road trip snack for kids – an edible snack necklace.

A child sitting in a car wearing a necklace made out of pretzels and cereal loops.

As a family road trip expert, I know that games won’t last forever, so snack ideas can ward off boredom and maybe even encourage a nap. Grab some stretchy string cord and start sliding random snacks on it like dry cereal and pretzels. You could also add fruit snacks or gummy bears by poking a hole in them with a skewer or a cherry pitter.



5. Fill a binder with road trip games for kids, including printables and books.

A child using a crayon to color on a printed activity page that is fastened into a binder. A pencil case with more crayons and a pack of Uno playing cards is sitting next to the child.

Get a big binder and put each child’s name on it. Then fill it with fun things: crayons and coloring pages, scavenger hunt checklists (license plates, landmarks, and animals are all great), bingo scoreboards, finger puppets, activity printables, small books or audio books, and other surprise goodies. Give it to them as soon as you set off.


6. Keep snack time neat with a fitted sheet as a road trip essential for kids.

A baby car seat fastened onto a seat in a van that is covered by a fitted sheet.

Don’t you hate it when you lift up a kid’s car seat or booster seat and it’s a sea of dried, old crumbs? For an easy, time-saving road trip hack, lay a fitted sheet underneath the seat to collect the incessant snack crumbs. Since safety is of the utmost importance, be sure that the car seat base or booster seat can still be fastened securely with the sheet. If not, you’ll just have to vacuum later.


7. Create a travel LEGO case with a lunchbox to organize road trip games for kids.

A child's hands playing with LEGO toys inside of a metal lunchbox sitting on the child's lap in the car.

LEGOs can typically keep kids busy for a long time as they use their imagination to build structures or play with the figures. But, there’s nothing worse than your passengers dropping them while you’re driving. Of course, stepping on them sucks too.

Insert a LEGO board to the inside of a hinged lunch box, and fill the container with LEGOs. This is a simple, portable road trip hack that can also work for race cars, small dolls, or even jewelry-making kits.

Here are some LEGO deals to check out before your trip.


8. Serve single portions of celery and peanut butter in lidded mason jars for a clever road trip hack.

A child sitting in a car, taking a celery stick out of a mason jar filled with more celery sticks and some peanut butter.

Here we go again with road trip ideas for kids in the form of snacks, because traveling with kids can be a real challenge. Grab a pack of mason jars with lids and fill them with peanut butter (or another dip) and celery or carrot sticks. While you’re packing to-go snacks, make a zip top bag with napkins, straws, and plastic utensils.


9. Create an “I Spy” bottle filled with rice, small toys, beads, buttons, and other colorful objects.

A child sitting in a car, looking into a clear plastic water bottle that has been filled with rice and various trinkets to play iSpy.

For your DIY “I Spy” game, create a checklist (visual or text) to go along with the bottle (or bag) and have your child cross off each item once it’s been spied. As far as road trip activities for kids go, this is great for younger ones, because it may take them longer — aka a time waster. To make it educational, you could have another passenger hold the list and test them on the spelling of the word.



10. Fill a suctioned shower caddy with road trip games for kids to easily access.

A child reaching into a plastic cup that is sitting in a shower caddy shelf that has been suctioned to the inside window of the car. There is also a toy car and a toy airplane in the shower caddy next to the cup.

With a suctioned shower caddy, you can keep entertainment within an arm’s reach. They can store their favorite toys in it and maybe a few packaged snacks. Just suction it to their window and hit the road.


11. Create countdown games for breaks and the ETA to your final destination.

A string of papers with numbers 1-7 printed on them, and one a silhouette of a city, hanging between the driver's and passenger's seat in a van, facing the backseat. A person is sitting in the driver's seat looking forward out of the windshield.

Rather than endure countless variations on “Are we there yet?”, start a new countdown each time you get back in the car for another leg of your road trip. For this long road trip tip, you could hang a banner over the back of the driver seat with blocks of time to tear off as each hour passes.

Note: You may not be able to tell from these photos, but I promise, these hacks definitely work — and should only be used — when seatbelts are fastened. I shot these photos in my driveway, and wasn’t even thinking to buckle my kids in as they hopped in and out of our van in order to help with the shoot…my bad!

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