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Fun and Educational Activities for the Family Road Trip

Updated on July 31, 2012
Ready for a fun road trip!
Ready for a fun road trip! | Source

Anyone who has been on a road trip with children knows it can be a challenge to find fun and educational activities to keep them entertained on a long car ride. Sure, there are hand-held game systems and in-car video players, but even these get old sometimes, and if you have a child prone to car sickness these types of activities aren’t a good option. Here are some fun and educational games you can try on your next road trip to keep your children engaged and maybe even help them learn a thing or two.

Famous Names

As you travel on your road trip, keep an eye out for street signs or places containing the names of famous people (Lincoln Avenue, Washington Township, Adamsville, etc.). See who knows the most about each famous name you see. Jot the names down so you can look up them up online later and learn more about each person.

State License Plate Challenge

It’s always fun to see how many different state license plates you can find while on a road trip. Can you also name the state capital for each state you see? How about the state bird? Which license plate came from farthest away? How many miles did that car have to travel to get to where it is? Take a notepad to keep track and then check your answers when you arrive at your destination. To add a bit of competition to the search, have each person guess how many different state license plates they think they will see during the trip. The person who guesses closest without going over is the winner.


Scavenger hunt

Give each participant a list of items to try to find, count and/or collect while on the road. Some suggestions:

  • Specific kinds of trucks like UPS or FedEX
  • Farm animals like cows or horses
  • Specific kinds of stores or gas stations
  • License plates with specific letters on them
  • “Wide Load” vehicles
  • Windmills
  • Napkins from three different rest stop area restaurants

When you arrive at your destination compare notes to see who found, collected and/or counted the most of their assigned items.

Road Trip Memories

How did you survive road trips when you were a child?

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Vehicle Bingo

Begin by creating or printing several blank bingo cards. Then fill the spaces on the card with an assortment of types of vehicles that you might see on your trip: police car, construction vehicle, red truck, convertible, classic car, motorcycle, RV, USPS truck, etc. The driver calls out vehicles on the road one at a time and everyone else marks their bingo cards accordingly.

Color Competition

Before the trip begins each passenger in the car picks a color. Then during the drive keep count of how many vehicles of each color you pass along the way. The person with the most vehicles in their color is the winner. If you want to get really specific try color AND make of car. If your trip is going to be really long, or if the children are young and don’t have long attention spans you can play just for a certain period of time (an hour or so).

Search for historical markers while on your road trip.
Search for historical markers while on your road trip. | Source

History’s Mysteries

Have you ever passed an historical marker and wondered what it was about but didn't have time to stop and look? Almost every state has a website that details the various historical markers and where you can find them. Before you hit the road on your trip, look up the areas through which you’ll be traveling and see if you’ll be passing any of these markers along the way. If so, see if your kids can spot them. If you have some extra time, stop and check them out.

Other suggestions for a happy road trip:

  • Bring a ball or Frisbee and run off some energy at rest stops.
  • Go to the dollar store and buy several small toys or items and place them in a brown bag. You can use these as prizes or you can let the kids draw one item from the bag every couple of hours.
  • Bring a MagnaDoodle or Etch-A-Sketch to play with. These toys encourage imagination and artistic expression plus they are easy to use and don’t contain small pieces that can get lost under the seat. They come in a variety of sizes and styles and some of them are simple enough for even a young child to use.
  • Bring special snacks that everyone loves but doesn’t get to eat at home very often.


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    • Jenn-Anne profile image

      Jenn-Anne 5 years ago

      Thanks Dave! Sorry I didn't respond to your comment sooner - it got lost in limbo apparently! Agreed - many a boring car ride was made a lot more entertaining with a scavenger hunt! Thanks for reading!

    • Jenn-Anne profile image

      Jenn-Anne 5 years ago

      Thanks Jade! My girlfriends and I often do scavenger hunts on the way to our girls weekend. It's always lots of fun!

    • profile image

      Jade0215 5 years ago

      Great ideas! My mom use to do the scavenger hunt with me when I was a kid.

    • Jenn-Anne profile image

      Jenn-Anne 5 years ago

      Thanks Davecurrtis! My girlfriends and I have done scavenger hunts many times on our way to our girls weekend. We've had so much fun with it!

    • davecurrtis profile image

      davecurrtis 5 years ago

      Scavenger hunt really is fun, we've done this and we have a great laugh at the things we've found.

    • Jenn-Anne profile image

      Jenn-Anne 5 years ago

      Thanks Stiedeman! Let me know how it goes! Heading out on a road trip tomorrow myself - kids can't wait to play vehicle bingo.

    • stiedeman profile image

      stiedeman 5 years ago

      Love it! This is a great idea and I will definitely use it for the next car trip!