Keeping Kids Busy During Long Drives

Keeping Kids Busy During Long Drives

We’ve all had that car ride with children that made us want to pull out our hair—full of “are we there yet?” and “I need to go to the bathroom” every two minutes. Wouldn’t it be great to find a way to make that ride more bearable, and maybe even fun, for you and the kids?

I’m here to tell you that with a little pre-planning it can be done.

Paper and Pencil

This is simple but easy to overlook: make sure you have something for kids to draw with. Aside from drawing, paper and pencil will come in handy for games like “license plate” and “car bingo.”

  • License plate - You get one point for every license plate you see from another state. You MUST point it out so someone else can see it. Then you get the point for seeing it first. The first person to 10 points wins.
  • Car bingo – Make a board of bingo with things like deer, trees, rocks, hills, whatever you have in your area. Let the kids pick out what they want and write it into each square, then tell them when to start, and everyone gets to play. The game typically does not take long but writing the items out on the board can give you a few minutes of peace.
  • I spy – This has been a family favorite for generations and can take up a significant amount of time if you pick things that are not directly on the road you are travelling. Choose objects that are in the car to trick your kids or far off in a field. Give everyone a turn and by the time you are done, you might be at the next rest area.


Plan Stops

While planning your trip, take your children’s age into account and set up stops along the way. Sometimes just breaking the monotony can be enough to get kids back into the car and riding along like angels. Make sure there is something to do at the stop: get an ice cream, throw a ball, anything that gets your kids’ minds off the car ride and onto whatever they are doing.

These breaks will also lead to kids using the restroom, so you will not need to make unplanned stops along the way, though sometimes they are inevitable.

When it is time to get into the car, make sure you have the next thing planned that you are going to do with them. Keeping kids engaged with something will take their mind off the time and give you a much-needed break.


While electronics are a great diversion, they have a bad habit of dying and needing data that you have to pay for, so when restricting the use of them comes, make sure you have something planned that will keep childrens’ hands and minds busy.

There are many games that can be downloaded and played without requiring data, so make sure you do your homework. Also make sure you bring charging cords along in case devices do not last as long as the drive, or you’ll end up with frustrated kids.

We do not recommend you allow kids to use your phone. While they tend to take naturally to electronics, there are many things children do not know. Settings can be changed, games downloaded without your consent, and you may need your phone if anything happens during your drive. Make sure the kids know your phone is off limits during the trip.


Bringing out the food can be something that breaks the monotony of trips. Making your snack more of a treasure hunt is even better. You can throw a few things into a bowl, mix it up and put that into a Ziploc bag for a delicious food-based game.

Things you can mix can include:

  • Pretzels
  • M&Ms
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cashews
  • Popcorn
  • Chips
  • Granola
  • And much more!

To make a treat your family will love, just find things that you can throw into a bowl that they truly enjoy, and you’ll keep them happy for a while so you can have some peace and quiet.


While you are busy driving, you can even have the kids watch their favorite movie. Many portable DVD players are inexpensive, and letting each child pick out their favorite while you pick out a couple more can keep them busy for a long period of time.

Crayons, stickers, and educational books are also a great way to keep kids busy while driving. You can engage by asking questions about what they are reading or watching, while still being able to pay attention to the road ahead.

Keeping kids busy while you are driving only requires a little bit of planning and may end up showing you that it isn’t quite as hard as everyone thinks. Just remember not to show everything at once; keep a few surprises for the road like a snack, and you will have much happier kids on your trip.

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