Visiting with family and friends is the highlight of the holidays or summer vacation for many homeschoolers. Unfortunately, before the festivities and merry-making can begin comes a part of the trip that most families dread—the process of "getting there"!
There are many great ways homeschoolers can pass the time – entertainment ideas that can encourage family togetherness, facilitate learning, and let kids have fun. Screen time has its place, but these road trip activities can get your kids thinking, learning, and being creative instead of staring at movies on a tablet for hours. Many of these ideas work equally well when traveling by airplane.
On your next long road trip, think outside the box for long car rides and change those "Are we there yet"s to "Wow, that trip went by fast"! A family vacation will get off to a great start with these ideas.
- Play 20 Questions. One person chooses a person, place or thing. Other members must try and guess what the first person chose, by only asking “yes” or “no” questions. Players must guess the answer in fewer than 20 questions.
- Play Imaginary Hide and Seek game, a variation of 20 questions. One person picks a place in the house and imagines he/she is hiding there. Persons “hiding” can be any size, so in this game, it is possible to hide in a dresser drawer, inside the dishwasher, or anywhere else! Other players ask “yes” or “no” questions to “find” the person hiding!
- Play The Alphabet Game. Look for words that begin with each letter of the alphabet, starting with “A”, on signs, landmarks, or license plates. This is a great learning game for younger kids.
- Play Road Trip BINGO. Our printable Holiday Travel BINGO game will keep kids watching for all kinds of winter holiday sights as they travel.
- Use printable games. TripSavvy has a variety of printable travel games, such as connect the dots, roadside scavenger hunt, and more.
- Bring a set of cards or a card game such as Uno or SkipBo. Here is a large list of rules for card games.
- Find license plates. Print out this checklist of the fifty states, and have children check off each license plate they see along the trip. Get the whole family involved to make it even more fun! This magnetic tin license plate game is great for team playing.
- Invent a better car. Brainstorm things you could add to your car to make the trip more inviting. Each person gets to add improvements. Cappuccino maker, anyone?
- Mystery writing. Have one child “write” or draw on the other child’s hand with his/her fingers, and have the other child guess what the first is writing.
Check out our list of 15 screen-free road trip games for kids for more ideas.
Travel games and activities on Amazon
Check out our favorite travel activities on Amazon! Here is a small sample of the great travel activities you'll find.
Would You Rather Book For Kids
Mindful Patterns Coloring Book
Storytelling & listening
- Try creating a story where each person begins with only one sentence, such as “Once upon a time there was a young boy”. The next person then adds another sentence to the story, and the process continues with each person providing just one sentence until the story takes on a life of its own! A variation of this is that the storyteller stops whenever he/she wants, and the next person must pick up where the first person left off.
- Listen to history. For elementary-aged children, consider The Story of the World audiobooks on CD by Susan Wise Bauer. These fascinating CDs tell the history of the world, beginning in ancient times (volume 1) through modern times (volume 4). Told in a story-like format and narrated by Jim Weiss and Barbara Alan Johnson, The Story of the World provides an excellent overview of world history which children find engaging. Jim Weiss also has a large collection of fun stories from history that kids love. He covers topics from pharaohs to the American wild west in his audio collection.
- Listen to audiobooks. Our list of 50+ audiobooks for family road trips is a great place to get ideas.
- Invent a story about the people in the car next to you. Be creative and let the whole family get in on the fun!
- Make pipe cleaner sculptures. Bring along some pipe cleaners and have the kids see what kinds of creative sculptures they can make. Use people, landmarks, or other things you see along the way as ideas for the sculptures. These pipe cleaner sculpture ideas can get you started.
- Do an activity book. Assemble your own from coloring pages, word searches and crossword puzzles, tic tac toe boards, and more, or buy sticker books, maze books, and coloring books (adult coloring books are great for older kids and teens).
- Bring some string. Have children make string figures, such as cat’s cradle. Challenge kids’ creativity and dexterity with figures such as a star, butterfly, man climbing a tree, and more! Refer to these instructions on how to make multiple string figures.
More travel ideas
- Bring backpacks. Prepare for the family road trip by packing a backpack for each child with their activities and snacks. To keep messes to a minimum, have kids put items away before taking something else out.
- Make travel journals. Let kids decorate composition books to use as travel journals. Pack the travel journals with colored pencils, crayons, or markers and a pen or pencil to encourage writing and drawing along your family's travels.
- Sing along to favorite songs. Each family member gets to choose a song and the whole family does karaoke in the car!
- Gift wrap snacks and toys from home. Simply by wrapping them, the items become more interesting! This is especially effective if the toys are not regularly used toys, or ones that have been forgotten at the bottom of the drawer. Older kids can pitch in and help moms prepare these for toddlers and preschoolers.
Enjoy your holiday travels!