Activities to Keep Kids (And Grown-Ups!) Busy on Your Road Trip

The beauty of travelling by car is that the journey can be as memorable and enjoyable as the destination itself. With road trips becoming the go-to travel plan for the foreseeable future, we know how important it is to make the most of the entire experience so we've put together a few suggestions for how to make the most of your time together.

The beauty of travelling by car is that the journey can be as memorable and enjoyable as the destination itself. With road trips becoming the go-to travel plan for the foreseeable future, we know how important it is to make the most of the entire experience.

Whether you’re on the usual Friday evening drive to the cottage, or packing the whole family into the car to explore a new faraway destination, we have a few suggestions for how to make the most of your time together.

Road Trip Goody Bags

If you want to ensure your kids have something to look forward to the whole trip (and a distraction from the occasional boredom of a long stretch in the car) we have a sure-fire way to keep them busy. Before you head out on your trip, select some small toys, crafts and snacks that fit in a small bag or box. Tell your family that along the way, they’ll be able to select something out of the bag at different times throughout the trip. Depending on how long you’re on the road, you can decide how often to let them pick something new.

Puzzles, books and magazines, and travel-sized board or card games are all perfect items to keep kids busy until they make their next pick. Get creative and tailor your items to your family’s interests.

And don’t worry if you need to put together your goody bag last minute – you can stop at any ONroute plaza early in your trip and find plenty of goodies and snacks at M Market.

We guarantee this one is sure to be a hit with any kid!

Road Trip Bingo

If you’re feeling ambitious, take your goody bag plan one step further by making the items prizes in an old-fashioned game of Road Trip Bingo. There are tons of printables available online, or you can make your own card customized for your route. Choose a mix of common and more unique road trip sightings (cows, out of province license plates and wind turbines are all go tos!) to fill out your card. Anytime your players spot one of the items on your card along the journey, they check off that box. If they get a line, they can choose something out of their goody bag!

Need a few more suggestions for what to include on your card? You’re guaranteed to see a Tim Horton’s or Canadian Tire Gas+ location if you pass an ONroute! Or make things seasonal and a little trickier – you can find locally grown pumpkins inside ONroute plazas this fall.

Podcasts & Audiobooks

Podcasts and audiobooks are a common road trip distraction, both for solo travellers and full cars, and are a great way to keep all age groups preoccupied. There are almost unlimited options of podcasts across every genre making it easy to find common ground with whoever’s on your trip. For a full list of some of the best podcasts to binge in the car, check out our previous blog post on the topic.

Battle of the Bands

Perfect for the music lovers on your trip (or to keep everyone from fighting over the AUX cord). This game is incredibly simple. Have the driver be your judge and get them to choose a theme or category, such as “songs with a city name in the title” or “awkward songs to sing at karaoke”. Give each player a few minutes to make their song choice, and then take turns playing everyone’s selections. The judge picks the winner, and then a new category.

If you aren’t feeling competitive, forget keeping score and use the game to share your favourite tunes with friends and family.

Between streaming podcasts and the best tracks, make sure to visit ONroute along the way for free WiFi to fill up your phone’s library.

The Movie Game

If you have a car full of movie buffs rather than music fans, this game might be more your speed. All you need to do is have the first player choose any movie, ie. “Titanic”, then the next player says the name of an actor that appeared in that movie, ie. “Leonardo DiCaprio”. The next player must say the name of another movie that same actor appeared in, ie. “The Departed”, and the next a different actor that appeared in that movie, ie. “Matt Damon”. The game continues until someone can’t name an actor or movie.

20 Questions

A road trip classic for a reason. An easy game go to needing zero preparation or timeline, for whenever things start to get tedious. You only need two people to play, so this one works for almost any group.

The game couldn’t be simpler: one person in the car thinks of a person, place or thing. The other participants then take turns asking yes or no questions until someone guesses the “it”, or the guessers run out of their allotted 20 questions.

Whoever wins gets to choose the next “it” and have the rest of the group try to deduce what they’re thinking of. For the more competitive folks, have someone keep score after every round, to end up with one overall winner.

As a kid, some of the most memorable moments from family trips are of the games and sights taken in along the way. Spending a lot of time in the car with loved ones can be stressful, but it can also be a whole lot of fun.

Next time you hit the road with your crew, give some of these activities a try. And let us know what your favourite road trip game is by sharing with us on Twitter!