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Fun on the Go: Road Trip Games and Activities for Kids

Hitting the open road can be an exhilarating family adventure, and while the destination often promises a fun-filled break, the journey there can sometimes be less than exciting. This can be especially true for younger travellers.

Keeping kids entertained can also play a role in passenger safety. According to Shell Australia News, distracted driving, such as dealing with kids in the back seat, accounts for approximately 30% of road accidents each year in Australia.

To help keep boredom at bay and minimise the are-we-there-yets, here is a treasure trove of road trip games and activities suitable for kids of all ages, from restless toddlers to discerning teenagers.

Road Trip Games and Activities

Here are some fun and interactive games and activities to keep your kids entertained during the ride:

I Spy

A classic for a reason, I Spy is a fun and interactive game suitable for all ages. It’s especially good for toddlers and young children as it enhances their observational skills and teaches them about letters in a fun and interactive way.

How to play: One person picks an object that everyone can see and starts the sentence with “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with (the first letter of the object’s name)”. For example, “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with ‘T’.” The others in the car take turns guessing what the object might be. Whoever guesses right is the winner of that round, and can then choose their own object and start the next round.

Licence Plate Game

This game is ideal for junior school kids as it helps them learn about Australian geography and cultivates a spirit of friendly competition. The goal is to find as many different state and territory number plates on cars passing by as possible.

How to play: Participants try to spot licence plates from different states and territories. When players spot a plate, they call it out and mark it off a master list. The game ends when one player has spotted plates from all the states/territories.

Car Bingo

Car Bingo keeps kids engaged with their surroundings and can be played solo or with others. It’s adaptable for children of different ages and also helps them improve their observation skills.

How to play: Before your trip, create or print out bingo cards featuring items that kids might see on the road. (e.g., a red car, a cow, a stop sign). Think about where you’ll be travelling and include items relevant to your destination. As children spot each item on their card, they mark it off. The first person to spot a row of these items horizontally, vertically, or diagonally wins the game!

20 Questions

This age-old game encourages children to think critically and ask strategic questions. It’s also easy to adjust for older kids by choosing more challenging objects.

How to play: One player thinks of an object, while the rest of the family takes turns asking up to 20 yes-or-no questions to guess what it is. If no one guesses the object within the 20 questions, the player who thought of it wins. If someone does guess correctly, they win and get to think of the next object.

Storytelling Round-Robin

This activity sparks creativity, encouraging kids to listen carefully and contribute thoughtfully. It’s also a great opportunity for family bonding and creating unique (and silly!) stories together.

How to play: Start a story with one sentence and then go around the car, letting each passenger add their own sentence. The story can take wild twists and turns, with contributions from everyone. Let the story continue until there’s a natural conclusion, or until you reach your destination.

Travel Journal

A travel journal helps children document their trip, practice writing, and create a keepsake of memories to look back at in future. This activity is great for children of all ages and can be adjusted depending on their writing ability.

How to play: Give each child a notebook or journal to document their trip. Encourage them to write about the places they visit, draw pictures of what they see, and keep track of any interesting facts or lessons they learn on the road. At the end of the trip, the children can share their journals and reflect on their fun experiences. You may wish to provide prompts in the journal such as “Today we visited ___, my favourite part was ___.” to help guide younger children with their writing.

Atlas Adventure

This game promotes spatial thinking and can help kids develop their navigational skills. It’s also a great way to introduce them to geography and learn about different places around the world.

How to play: Use an atlas or a map of the area you will be travelling through. Choose a starting point and destination, and have kids trace out the route on the map. You can also ask them to find small towns or landmarks along the way. To make the game more challenging for older children, you can have them calculate the distance between each stop and track their progress.

Audiobook Listening Party

Listening to a story is a simple yet engaging activity. It also fosters imagination and can introduce kids to new literary worlds. This is perfect for long car rides, when you may want to give your eyes a rest from reading.

How to play: Choose an audiobook that everyone can enjoy. Make sure it’s age-appropriate and engaging enough to keep everyone interested. Play the audiobook during long stretches of driving, or use headphones for each child where necessary. If you like, you can make periodic stops in the listening to discuss predictions, characters and impressions. Once you reach your destination, discuss the book and ask for everyone’s thoughts and opinions.

Hot Tips for Family Road Trips

Before the games begin, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with a few handy tips to navigate the adventure.

Plan Ahead and Research

Before heading off on your family road trip, familiarise yourself with the route, potential rest stops, and any interesting landmarks or attractions you’d like to see along the way. Prepare the essentials for your journey: know where you’re going, what you’ll need to bring and whether you need travel insurance for your trip. With a little planning, the journey can be just as delightful as the destination!

Drinks and Eats

Nobody enjoys long journeys on an empty stomach! Make sure to pack plenty of snacks and drinks your kids will enjoy on the road. By having a variety of options, you can avoid frequent stops at fast food restaurants or convenience stores, while also saving money. Don’t forget to pack clean-up essentials like wet wipes, tissues and plastic bags for any potential messes.

Bring Entertainment

Pack tablets with pre-downloaded movies or shows, portable gaming devices, books, colouring books, and drawing implements to keep your kids entertained during the journey. You may also wish to consider purchasing some new toys or games as a special surprise for the trip. These toys can be provided at key moments of the journey to keep kids occupied and happy.

Whether it’s a travel journal or Car Bingo, these road trip activities can turn a long drive into an opportunity for family bonding and learning. The key to a successful trip is variety, so mix and match activities to suit the duration of your drive and the interests of your children. Be sure to schedule breaks for stretching legs and enjoying snacks, and above all, remember to have fun!


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