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Ways to Keep Kids Entertained While You're Traveling

Long trips with kids can be hard, but a little planning goes a long way. These budget-friendly tips will help you keep them entertained for hours.

Ways to Keep Kids Entertained While You're Traveling

Keeping the kids entertained over a long journey can seem like a nightmare, but with a few tips and tricks, you can take the stress out of the journey. Here are some great ideas that won't break the bank and will help keep your trip light and fun. After all, the goal is to enjoy the family time, right?

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail 

Keeping the kids entertained is all about planning ahead. If you just jump in the car and expect happiness and peace all the way to your destination, you're in for an unpleasant surprise! Take a few moments to plan some travel activities for the kids. Having a few tricks up your sleeve can make all the difference. 

Card games

Do your kids know a few card games already? If not, it's worth playing the games once or twice before you start your journey. Cards can be tricky in a confined space, so it's even harder to learn a new game while trying to balance cards. If you're new to card games, then Go-Fish is always a winner and is perfect for younger kids. Looking for new games or can't remember the rules of your childhood favorites? Bicycle cards have a great website with the rules for almost every card game you can imagine. 

A simple new toy

A new toy is exciting and can provide a good dose of novelty and entertainment on a long trip. Make it extra exciting by keeping the toys in your bag and then producing them once the boredom sets in. You know your kids best, so you'll what know they'll enjoy. The trick is to choose a toy that will keep them busy for a while. 


The importance of snacks on long journeys can not be overstated! Eating not only keeps the grumpies away, it's actually fun and helps kids pass the time. Choose wisely though, sugary treats will be a big hit, but dealing with the sugar crash at the end isn't fun. 

Screen time

We all have dreams of road trip games for the car and children quietly reading on airplanes, but the reality is that sometimes we just need to take the pressure off. Long trips can hard on kids (and their parents). You don't want your kids glued to a screen the whole time, but it is worth having a backup plan that involves screens. Download a few games or even a movie for them to watch if the trip gets too intense. 

Want to keep it educational? Download some YouTube videos about the area you're visiting. Think local animals, birds, history, geology, and important buildings or landmarks - you can really let your imagination run wild.

Listen to an audiobook

Audiobooks are a great way for the family to bond. They're perfect for when you've had enough of travel games and no one feels like talking anymore. Choose a book that the whole family can follow. Audible has a 30-day free trial which gives you access to a wonderful selection of books. For younger kids, look for classics like Anne of Green Gables, Charlottes Web, Stuart Little, and Mathilda. If you have older kids, then The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, the Harry Potter series, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy are excellent.

Read a book to the kids

Visit the library and before your trip and pick a book to read to the kids. Having a 'holiday book' is a great way to build memories and gives you something fun to look forward to for quiet moments. (Hint: it's also a great way to calm overstimulated kids after a long day). 

Pen and paper for drawing

This one is so cheap and easy to pack. Even kids that don't usually like writing or drawing might find that it's not so bad when they're bored. 

I spy with my little eye

I-spy is on of those timeless road trip games that kids love. Not sure of the rules? Every family has their own version, but here's a simple breakdown. And, of course, you're allowed to change them and make them your own!

Sticker Books

Sticker books are great for younger kids who can't draw or write yet. They're cheap, widely available, and don't take up much luggage space. (Bonus: Peeling all those stickers off is actually building their fine motor skills.)

Let them read a book

Visit the library before your trip and choose some books that the kids can read or look at themselves. You can either let them pick out the books themselves or choose them secretly and surprise the kids. Whichever you choose though, the rule is: they only get to look at them once the journey has started. 

Listen to music

If you're taking a road trip, then tuning in to local radio stations can be fun (and interesting) It's always worth packing some music that you all enjoy. Bring along some old CDs or make sure you've got some of your family's favorites downloaded. 

Magnetic travel games for kids

Are your kids into board games? Magnetic travel games are perfect for long trips and you can find some really reasonably priced options. They're usually simple classics like Ludo, Chutes and Ladder, and Chess. The perfect option for when kids are tired of sitting still and really need something to focus their attention. 

Give me more ideas

Looking for more great ideas to help you live life to the fullest on a budget? Save can help you live your best life without blowing your budget. Check out this Summer Family Bucket List, find out more about these 5 National Parks to Explore, or learn more about How to Limit Screen Time for Kids.