Keeping Kids Entertained During Travel Days without Electronics

We’ve been across the country three times with four kids. All three times we were kind of in a hurry. The first time we only took 10 days to get from California to New Hampshire, the second time we took 14 days to get from New Hampshire back to California and the latest time we went from California to Ohio in just NINE days. I am NOT planning on doing it again anytime soon. I honestly would NEVER have tried to pull off a nine day cross country with four kids, a dog, a hermit crab, a fish and a bonsai tree if we didn’t have to be back in Ohio to meet someone.

Regardless, I know that we will be making trips again in the future and I know first hand that keeping kids entertained on such long trips without hours and hours of screen time is a challenge.

Road Trip Ready

Most of what I am going to talk about here can be done without a binder and a hole punch, but I prefer it because, well, kids. Pages end up trampled on the floor, we stop, kids pile out and pages go whipping out into the Kansas wind. So, we have binders. And, since I am not a fan of pages ripping in a binder, so I head over to the dollar store and pick up a package of clear binder sheet covers so we can slip in papers as we go without having to take a hole punch or dealing with ripped pages along the way. This is especially a good idea for papers you’ll have out and use often, like the license plate sheet.

Create an Itinerary

We use the Roadtrippers app to create an itinerary and figure out where we’re going to go. We look for fun places along our route so we don’t miss things we might have wanted to see. A printable itinerary is great for writing down places you’re planning to see and places you stumbled upon as you travel. My kids wanted to know where we were planning to go that day and about how far it was. So, sitting down and writing out the trip for the day with those details is a great way to add details to the travel log and make the kids feel like they are a part of the planning. While you sit down to get this ready, you can prep the state worksheets you printed before your trip and get those lined up and ready to go.

Memorable Fun

Road trips offer a great opportunity to disguise learning as fun. Journals, binders and games are a great way to make the most of the trip.

We kind of love this printable from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Writing down what they remember of the places they saw along the way is a great way to help them remember the trip, learn more about each state and spend a little more time off devices. We love that these printable pages have a little more to offer than just blank sheets.

A Learning Experience

Each kid has a binder with a road map (pictured below), a printable state sheet (also below) for each state we’re traveling through.

This printable state pack on Teachers Pay Teachers can be printed off for each kiddo to color in as you travel. If you don’t want to add all of them to the binder at once, you can print each state you plan to travel through before you go.

As we cross over into each state we color the page for that state and go over the facts.

Games & Fun

Taking games for the car ride and stops along the way is a must. We quickly learned that burning off steam when we could required that we encourage some physical activity too. The older boys are kind of past these first few recommendations, but still got bored enough to pick them up from time to time.

Go Fish and Hangman are good old fashioned fun. Since they are compact, they are easy to put in the travel box that we put in the middle of the seats.

All of the kids wanted to keep track of the plates they’d seen, so this interstate bingo game was a hit. You can also print off this printable license plate game if you want the kiddos to add it to their binder.

We LOVE our travel checkers cloth mat. We have played with it in rest stops and restaurants across the country. When we made our first trip from CA to NH, we hadn’t seen green grass for months. CA was in the middle of dry and dead season and it wasn’t until we got to Kansas that we saw our first green fluffy grass. We whipped out checkers and a ball and the kids played in the first grass they’d seen in a while.

We wanted to have a ball that the kids could play with too, but a hard ball takes up a lot of room. These world map inflatable balls are the perfect addition to your trip.

I know that I just sent a lot of info your direction, but trust me when I say it’s a lot easier to prep with this kind of stuff before you head out. Know of something we should add to this list? Be sure to comment below.

5 thoughts on “Keeping Kids Entertained During Travel Days without Electronics

  1. Maria says:

    Vacations are fun, but traveling can be rough. Children especially hate to travel. When packing for a vacation, most people don’t think to pack for the travel. These are some great tips to keep in mind!

  2. Darcey says:

    These travel activities for kids are great. I’ve only taken one trip with my daughter and she got a lot of screen time because there was no one in the back seat to play with her, but these activities would be great as she gets older. She has an activity binder with the plastic sheets and dry erase markers so she can color or play games on paper. Sometimes puzzles are good for travel too.

  3. Cherish says:

    These are such great suggestions to keep the kids busy. When I moved from Arizona to Philadelphia, PA, we drove so I could have my car. While I was 22, all I could do was sleep to keep myself busy!! I couldn’t imagine how I would handle if I were in the car as my younger self with my whole family!

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