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Ideas for Fun Activities For Kids On Long Road Trips

Updated on January 14, 2013

Summer vacation is weeks away! Some people have their trips planned to Orlando. Others are heading to the Outer Banks. We spend a week in a vacation home just south of Virginia Beach in Sandbridge, VA. Our route is set. We booked our hotel for the drive down. Some mental packing has started. The kids are counting down the days!

Our annual trip to the beach house is about twelve hours from our house. Our Suburban will be filled with eight people, three adults and five children. Therefore, another sort of preparation needs to occur. We have already started to brainstorm fun activities for the kids on our long road trip.

  • Start a movie rotation
  • Attach the Ipad to the DVD Player to watch Itunes movies/shows
  • Play Wii in the car
  • Dollar Store activities
  • License plate game
  • Progressive story telling

The car will be happy if the kids are happy

Our Week Vacation: Sandbridge, VA

sandbridge, va:
Sandbridge, Virginia Beach, VA, USA

get directions

Create A Movie Rotation During Your Family Roadtrip

When I was a kid, we didn’t have DVD players in our car for road trips. I bet my parents wished we had!

While we don’t use it for trips around town, the DVD player in the car is wonderful for road trips. We bring all of our movies and create a rotation. My daughter can pick the princess movie that the boys say they don’t like, but really do. The boys can pick their silly pirate shows that she secretly enjoys. The rotation results in group fairness and gives the kids a sense of time. One hour and a half does not resonate with my kids as much as we will stop when Marlin finds Nemo.

If You Have The RCA Port, Consider The Apple Composite AV Adapter

Attach The Ipad To the DVD Player

Before road trips, we let each kids pick out one new show to download on Itunes. Each show is about $1.99 and must be an episode they have never seen.

Have you ever attached your iPod, iPhone or iPad to your car’s DVD player? Check to see if to see if your DVD player (or back of the car) has the following ports:

  • · RCA (white and red) and video (yellow)
  • · HDMI port

For cars with RCA ports (red, yellow, white) consider the Apple composite AV adapter. This allows you to display any video downloaded onto your device onto your car’s DVD player. If your car has an HMDI port with the DVD player, try Apple's VGA adapter. This gives you the same display functionality as the composite adapter, utilizing the HMDI port. Both adapters have separate USB attachments so that you can charge your device while it is in use.

We allow Itunes shows during the movie rotation.

Try Playing Wii In Your Car

Each year, we bring the Wii to the beach house for the kids to use on rainy or cooler days.

Have you ever consider playing Wii or any other game console in the car’s DVD player?

We let the kids play Wii on our road trip last year and it was a hit. Game consoles require an AV power source. We used a 13.8-Volt Power Supply with Cigarette Lighter Adapter for the power supply. Using the same red, yellow, white ports described above, we were able to plug the Wii directly into the DVD player for video and sound. Finding a good home for the sensor bar was a challenge, but we ended up using the console between the two front seats. My third row players were able to play one of their favorite games, Kirby Epic Yarn, for a few hours during the trip.

Pick your games wisely when playing Wii in the car! You don't want a remote flying through the windshield!

Dollar Store Coloring Books and Fun Pads

Dollar Stores have an impressive assortment of coloring books and fun pads. I keep these a secret until the first, “Are we there yet?” emerges. Then, I break out the books and some pencils or crayons. My kids enjoy these activities, especially if the movie does not capture their attention or they are not playing Wii.

They Love Their State Quarter Maps. They Will Love The License Plate Game!

They Love Their State Quarter Maps.  They Will Love The License Plate Game!
They Love Their State Quarter Maps. They Will Love The License Plate Game! | Source

The Traditional License Plate Game

My kids fell in love with states and capitals last year. I am going to print and laminate the license plate game. I will give them each a pad of little stickers. When they see the license plate, they can put the sticker on the chart. I am going to laminate because papers like these get dropped, stepped or spilled on. Fingers crossed that laminating might protect them for the duration of the trip.

Campfire Style Progressive Story Telling

Our kids love to tell stories. Progressive story telling has been a group favorite. What a great way to pass the time when the movies and shows are losing their crowd appeal. This game requires all electronics to be turned off.

Progressive story telling is underway. We take turns starting the story. I begin, “One day, a family of eight started their road trip to the beach.” My husband continues, “Until the car got a flat and they were forced to pull over on the side of the road.” We go around the car in a circle, each member telling the next sentence of the story.

In our family, we have to set a few ground rules. No one can be eaten by a shark or alien right away. This became an issue a few years ago and resulted in a series of extremely short stories.

Each year, as they learn more, their additions to the story are more entertaining. We will see what adventures are created this year during story telling. It is fun to listen to their little minds work.

Our Family Roadtrip's Goal: The Beach House

Our Annual Beach House
Our Annual Beach House | Source

Creating Memories On The Road To Vacation

We pack special snacks suitable for the car. We organize our movie collection and make sure we have all our electronic cords and chargers. We are going to spend nine days together as a family, but twelve hours each direction, in the car.

For months, we will be talking about our beach fun. We might also be talking about the fun we had in the car, any funny stories that emerged or even something hilarious that happened.

The beach house is the highlight, but the memories start the moment we buckle up on the road trip!

© 2012 Karen Lackey

What is your favorite road trip activity?

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    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks, Angela_michelle. We will check it out!

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      There is a license plate game you can buy from Melissa and Doug. My daughter has it and it is a lot of fun!

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks for reading, Chrissie! Hopefully you are able to use some of the ideas. Let me know if you have some other great ones, too!

    • chrissieklinger profile image


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great ideas. The longest trip we have taken so far is 6 hours. We travel 3 hours to see our family every other month so some of these ideas would be great for those trips!

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Natashalh, when I was a kid, we went to a state park an hour away. There was no need to even keep us occupied! I have a feeling we will have more reading now that the kids can actually read! Thanks for reading!

    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      You family trips sound much more fun than mine were as a kid. When I was very young and had to take a long trip, sometimes my mom would pack little 'presents' for me I could open along the way - if I behaved! For the most part, though, I read a whole lot.

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      I will be looking to get some great tips from you, too, Angela_michelle!

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      Oh my goodness, I have this exact same topic I am working on right now. YOu beat me to it. Great job by the way.

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Bowling would be a disaster. Ugh! Food poisoning would be a disaster, too. I pray our trip is uneventful! Thanks for reading!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      I never thought about trying to hook up the wii for the car! Not sure how well a game like "bowling" would work, but some of the others would be a great diversion! We recently drove from western NY to Myrtle Beach (14.5 hours) and it was a lonnnnggggg drive. My boys are 4 and 6, so the DVD player was vital. On the way back, my six year old had food poisoning and vomited for most of the ride home. Fun times! Road trips are always... interesting, lol!

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Brainy Bunny, it was hilarious the first time. Then it got a little old! I am sure you have been through those types of kid moments! Thanks for reading!

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Practical Mommy! 15-20 hours...ouch! You might be driving through my state! Good luck on the trip!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 

      6 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      I love that nobody is allowed to get eaten by a shark or alien in your story game. That's hilarious!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Perfect timing! My husband and I are planning another road trip to Wisconsin to visit his sister, which is a 15-20 hours ride for us in the car. Last time we just had our son but now we have the two kids to entertain.

      I really like the idea of setting up the Wii in the car. My son would love something like that!

      Voted up and sharing!

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Bookmom- I already updated the link to a map version. Thanks!

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Bookmom, maybe picture that was misleading. The picture is of the kids with their state quarter maps. The license plate game link is to a check list. But, that makes me think I am going to replace it with a link to a map version of the game. Thanks for reading and the indirect suggestion!

    • thebookmom profile image


      6 years ago from Nebraska

      What a fun and helpful hub! I can't wait to try the license plate game with a map, what a super fun idea (and the teacher in me loves we'll be sneaking in a geography review too!) Hope your trip is safe and fun.


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