Forget the parts about babies screaming in their car seats, siblings getting in each other’s space in the back seat, and ineffectively trying to get restless children to actually sleep in a hotel bed.
Traveling is fun!
Well, parts of it anyway.
If you’re hitting the road this summer with your family, we pray you make more great memories than bad ones (though I speak from experience when I say that even most of the bad ones turn into good ones eventually). We pray for wonderful experiences and fantastic adventures. We pray that even Mom and Dad have a good time and get to relax! Is this too much to ask?
Free and Inexpensive Road Trip Ideas and Activities
To make a road trip fun for the kids and hopefully more relaxing for the parents, we’ve put together a fantastic list of ideas and activities, as well as a huge packet of free printables for you. A huge thanks to my friend, Kim, for once again helping me compile this list of ideas. Wait till you see!
First the free printable pack!
You will want this packet of printables to go along with many of the ideas listed below! Print the pages that work well for each of your kids and put together a binder for them to take along on the trip. With these printables your kids can:
- Journal with pictures or words throughout the trip
- Play “I Spy” with Letters, Numbers, Shapes, Colors, and State License Plates
- Spot road signs and different kinds of vehicles – challenging themselves to see how many they can find
- More (details to come!)
Sign up to receive this FREE Printables Pack here. Once you’ve signed up, watch for an email, confirm your subscription, and your printables packet will be in your inbox soon!
More Travel Ideas that Are Free
Are you ready for this? We’ve got over 65 great ideas to help make traveling with kids fun and easy. Here we go with ideas that cost absolutely nothing!
- Toy Swap! Borrow toys and books from a friend to take along on the trip. This will seem like “new toys” to your kids but will cost nothing!
- Take along library books, audio books, and movies.
- Coupon Fun! Use the printable coupons in the packet above to provide your kids with fun incentives and treats to look forward to. (For example: “This coupon entitles you to sit by Mom. …to choose the movie. …to have a special drink.)
- Borrow fun music CDs from friends that will be new to your family.
Super Inexpensive Travel Activity Ideas
- Hit garage sales and thrift stores to pick up “new” toys and books inexpensively. Pull them out one at a time on the trip!
- If your kids are old enough, aluminum foil is great for making origami shapes or molding/scrunching into various shapes. It can be used over and over!
- Take stickers and a spiral notebook or scratch paper: Little ones enjoy the fun of peeling off the stickers and putting them on paper at random. Bigger kids can make scenes with them, then use crayons or colored pencils to make a bigger scene. (Consider including this in a binder in put together for your kids which includes the above Travel Packet Printables!) Here’s an awesome sticker pack that is a great value.
Inexpensive Travel Activity Ideas
- Mad Libs – There’s a fun mad lib free in the above Travel Printables Packet! Our family has several books filled with them though and they are reasonably priced. Ridiculous fun!
- Hotwheels Cars
- Finger Puppets (aren’t these the cutest?!)
- I Spy Board Books (for little ones)
- I Spy Books (for older kids)
- Can You See What I See Book Series
- Where’s Waldo Travel Collection
- Coloring Books with Crayons and/or Colored Pencils (giant crayons are easier to hold –
- Avoid worrying about hot crayons in the car with these Easy Grip Colored Pencils
- Be sure to take a crayon sharpener!
- Color Wonder Markers and Paper (these were my FAVORITE when my kids were little, and there are many options to choose from!)
- Lacing Cards
Arts and Crafts on the Road
- Scratch Art
- Water Painting Books by Melissa and Doug
- Needlepoint on Plastic Canvas
- Make Friendship Bracelets
- Knit on a Loom
- Duct Tape Bracelets and Other Crafts (be sure to take scissors!)
Travel Items Worth the Investing In
- Playbee Magnetic Toys (consider taking a metal cookie sheet to play with these in the car)
- Snack and Play Travel Tray
- Hand Crank Flashlight (great to play with after dark; never replace the batteries!)
Audio Book Suggestions
Borrow these from the library or invest in them to keep in your car for all your road trips!
- Adventures in Odyssey (many options in this collection!)
- Jonathan Park (many options in this collection too!)
- Focus on the Family Radio Theater Productions (plus more options!)
- Anne of Green Gables
- Secret Garden
- Father Gilbert Mysteries
- Chronicles of Narnia Series
- Oliver Twist
- Back of the North Wind
Rest Stop Activities
- Melissa and Doug My First Sidewalk Chalk Set (dip the ends in water for brighter colors!)
- Mini Soccer Ball (for a quick game!)
- Hit the pool
- Find a local park or playground
- Find a hiking trail
- If the weather is bad, find a local library, indoor playground, or mall playground
- Giant Puzzles (this one is smaller for younger kids)
- Grab and Go Hungry Hippo (no pieces to lose!)
- Travel Battleship
- Travel Checkers, Tic Tac Toe, Hangman Bundle
- Travel Connect Four
- Travel Trouble
- Scavenger Hunt Card Game (even little ones can play this game!)
- Uno/Phase Ten/Snappy Dressers Game Tin
- Skip Bo (Malachi and I play this one all the time!)
Fun Travel Snacks and Drinks
- Fruit Leather
- Granola Bars
- Cheese Sticks or Cubes
- Pre-Cut Fruits and Veggies
- Squeezy Applesauce
- 100% Juice Boxes
- Fruit Twists
*TIP* Purchase a gallon of water to keep in the car. Refill individual water bottles as needed. Sometimes it’s fun to surprise the kids with a new water bottle for a big trip! These choices are great for bigger kids. Here’s a great sippy cup for littles. Grown-ups and teens might like this one.
Recipes for the Road
- Trail Mix
- Veggie Dip (great for dipping all those baby carrots, pepper slices, celery sticks and such)
- Fudge Bites
- Snickerdoodle Cookie Bites
- Peanut Butter Cookie Bites
- Peanut Butter Raisin Balls
- Soft Pretzel Bites
- Whole Wheat Crackers
- Graham Crackers
- Crispy Cheese Crackers
I am so in love with all these ideas! Thank you, Kim, for lending your expertise and creativity!
Everyone please pitch in to share your ideas too. And be sure to sign up to receive this FREE Printables Pack here. I love the fun of this packet to make traveling more enjoyable!