1. Play finger twister.
Easily create your own board by drawing 16 small circles on heavyweight paper and coloring each set of four circles a different color. You could also just buy those colorful round sticker labels often used at garage sales for price tags. Instead of a spinner, use the stickers on a die and have each player roll it on their turn.
2. Let kids doodle on the window with a dry erase marker.
3. Make a pocket-sized magnetic fishing set.
You’ll need an empty Altoids tin, felt fabric, metal washers, magnets, string, a stick, and some hot glue to make this travel-friendly fishing set that will keep kids entertained in the car or plane.
4. Stick magnets to puzzle pieces and transform a baking sheet into a puzzle board.
5. Attach chalkboard paper to an old baking tray for a portable, magnetic play station.
6. Shake dice in a tiny container so they don’t get lost.
7. Fill a binder with printables, games, and other fun things to do on the road.
Get a big binder and fill it with fun things: crayons and coloring pages, scavenger hunt checklists (license plates, landmarks, and animals are all great), bingo scoreboards, finger puppets, small books or audio books, and other surprise goodies.
There are tons of free printables on the Web — here are just a few:
- Discovery Kids has a list of free printables for scavenger hunts, mazes, memory games, and more.
- Mom’s Minivan has free car bingo cards.
- Living Well Mom has links to free coloring pages, mad libs, and more.
8. Laminate a map of your route and have kids cross off cities you drive through.
9. Wrap little surprises for kids to open along the way.
Surprise kids with small toys from the dollar store, coloring books, and snacks.
10. Schedule stops around geocaching sites.
Geocaching is a free activity played by thousands worldwide. Kinda like a treasure hunt, you use the free app to navigate to a specific location near you to find a surprise box filled with knick-knacks that can be traded and a guest log for you to sign.
There are millions of locations worldwide, so the next time you and the family go on a long road trip, consider stopping to find one. It’s a great way to let loose some energy and stretch your legs. And it’s free!
11. Create an "I Spy" bottle filled with rice, small toys, beads, buttons, and other colorful objects.
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.
12. Make entertainment baskets.
Encourage kids to keep their space neat by being responsible for their own baskets. Fill each with snacks, drinks, and activities.
13. Or, create customized road-trip pillowcases filled with activities.
Sew on a fabric pocket that can be sealed with velcro, and attach a handle so kids can bring their pillows along for the trip.
14. Help younger kids learn the alphabet with a sticker binder.
Get free printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler.
15. Encourage them to get creative with pipe cleaners.
Pipe cleaners are lightweight and even better, noise-free!
16. Give kids glow sticks to play with at night.
17. Make a sticky-note coloring case out of a soap or travel first-aid kit container.
18. Attach velcro stickers to the ends of craft sticks.
These are lightweight, easy to make, and kids can practice making letters or structures with them on the road.
19. Create a travel LEGO case with a lunchbox.