Top 10 Tips to Getting Kids to Unplug on Road Trips

As many of you know, our family is hoping to get to go on an epic road trip this summer! That means we are researching and planning and getting prepared in case we are lucky enough to win this fabulous vacation for our family. I’ve decided to not keep all this researching a secret. Instead, I have asked some of my favorite blogging friends to help me with The Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping, just for you! Today we will focus on how to help kids unplug on road trips with Jen of Mum in the Madhouse.

How to Unplug on a Road Trip

It seems that car journeys for kids have changed a lot since I was small, mostly for the better.  I remember being carried to the car in my PJ’s in the middle of the night and laid down on the back seat to go back to sleep without seatbelts, yes I am that old!  

I love that fact that there are lots of gadgets and technology to make traveling easier, but I also like getting the kids to unplug  and communicate too.  For me it is all about balance and a good road trip includes both.

But how do you get the kids to unplug on road trips?  Most of the time it means being well prepared and putting in just a little bit of effort.  All of the activities below are things that I do with the boys or have done when they were younger.

Top 10 Ways to Unplug on Road Trips

Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping Tips to Unplug

Travel activity packs

When my boys were younger I used to give them a travel pack for long journeys which included small toys.  I would always ask for a spare activity pack when we ate out as they make great travel competitions as does mess free painting kits!  Small pots of homemade playdough are great too and make sure you keep all those freebies from magazines and comics on the weeks before you travel. 


My boys love maps, we often print out a route planner of where we are going for them to follow the route themselves as we go along.  If you have time before your travel you can also look up facts about places you will pass along the way.

Dollar store/Pound Store trinkets

If you have a really long trip coming then get the kids involved and give them a budget to spend at the local store.  Our local pound shop (yes we live in the UK) has some great coloring  and puzzle books, as well as the regular plastic toys.

Travel board games

Both my boys are hugely competitive and we always have travel versions of our favorite games in the car such as travel connect four and battle ships.  I am always on the lookout for travel versions of games and have a great magnetic snakes and ladders too.  We keep the games in labelled plastic containers as we are less likely to lose pieces then. 

Books/Audio Books

I have one child that is travel sick in the car, which rules out reading for him.  But the other loves reading his books enroute and as a family we love audiobooks.  I can recommend the David Walliams  and Roald Dahl for tweens, Julia Donaldson for preschoolers and Harry Potter for older tweens and teens. 

Sometimes the best way to recharge our batteries is to UNPLUG THEM

Free printables

What is not to love about free printables for travel packs.  I made some for my boys including count the vehiclescar models wordsearch,  join the dotstic tac toe (noughts and crosses), hangman, travel bingocar badge bingo and car name wordsearch.  My top tip for these is to laminate them before you go and give the kids a whiteboard pen, then they can be cleaned with a cloth or even a baby wipe and be used again and again.  Don’t have a laminator, don’t worry just pop them in a plastic pocket and you can do the same. 

Memory games

I think this is my favorite of all, games that do not require pen, paper or anything other than just a person such as eye spy (colours for younger children and letters for older kids),  I’m thinking of a country beginning with ……., I’m thinking of an animal…..  (with this one you get to ask the person a question, but they can only answer with yes or no),  Eat the alphabet (each person takes a tern listing what they would eat from a – z and then passes it on.  The next person has to add theirs and also recite all the previous ones too),  The Alphabet Game (tThe alphabet has lots of possibilities for games! My boys love Star Wars ABCs Anankin, Boba Fett, Clone Wars, Droid, etc.  You could also do places, foods, animals, kids’ names, etc.),  Name that tune  (people get three tries at naming the tune you are humming or whistling), Opposites. (the opposite of short is tall and the opposite of big is small etc), and  Joint story (this is a great one because you can make it as long or short as you want! Start by telling just part of a story, and then have the next person tell the next part. Cut them off, and have the next person tell the next part, and so on).

Snacks and drinks

I make sure that I prepare a load of healthy snacks and drinks before we go.  Now the boys are older they get their own bag each (when they were younger I dished them out as they would have eat them all in one go).  I love things like granola bars, fruit salad, nuts and dried fruits, flavored coconut water, popcorn, yogurt coated fruit,  fruit leather, dried cereal, cheese, 

Self contained toys

You can take many toys in the car, just avoid ones with lots of small bits.  We love things like magna doodle, aquadraw, felt boards, lacing cards, top trumps, puppets and rubik’s cubes.

Sensory bottles or busy bags

Most busy bags and sensory bottles can be converted for in car play.  I love this hair tie bracelet busy bag and it would be perfect for in the car.   We have a love of sensory bottles and they are perfect for in car entertainment, especially discovery or eye spy bottles.

Unplug Tips for Road Trips with Kids

Do you have a favorite unplugged car activity that I have missed? We are always on the look out for more, so do let us know in the comments. Happy travels.

Jen Walshaw is the UK’s #1 Mummy Blogger and a freelance writer based in the North East of England who is passionate about crafting, saving money  and cooking.  She can often be found in the kitchen teaching her boys (aged 8 and 10) to make pizza dough, or making homemade gifts for family and friends. When not up to her eyes in flour or paint, she can be found writing about living a creative family life in a digital age at Why not catch up with her at The Mad House Facebook page, be inspired by her fabulously curated Pinterest boards or follow her on Instagram for a glimpse in to family life in The Mad House.

Don’t Forget to Check Out the Next Tip in The Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping

Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping Tips for Taking Kids on Extended Vacations

The Ultimate Road Trip

We don’t take vacations. No, scratch that… we avoid vacations. The term “vacation” should instill release, comfort, hope and so many other feelings, however in our home it is quite the opposite which is probably why we haven’t taken a family vacation since we got married. However, when the idea of traveling in an RV was mentioned, all of our ears started to perk up. Family vacation might actually be possible. Family vacation might actually be a dream come true.

Vote for Our Adventures

Now for the fun part! You can send me and my family on our dream adventure! Just for voting EACH DAY you are also included in a drawing for $500. How fun would that be to use towards anything you want? So what do you say?

Vote Here

Help start our adventure and get a chance to win $500 towards your next adventure by clicking here and voting for “Lemon Lime Adventures”.

Can you help me? Better yet, Why don’t you go with us! Well, virtually at least! I plan to blog about tips, strategies and adventures of traveling with a child with sensory needs. I hope to build a wonderful resource for all of us trying to figure this adventure out together! In the comments, tell me you favorite sensory friendly stop or tip along the route!


Discover how to get siblings to get along even when all they do is annoy each other with the Sibling “Get Along” Poster Pack!

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Tips to Getting Kids to Unplug on Road Trips”

  1. Pingback: 7 Things to Do When Taking Kids on an Extended Vacation - Lemon Lime Adventures

  2. Pingback: The Ultimate Guide to Travelling With Children | Our Little House in the Country

  3. Pingback: How to Limit Screen Time for Kids

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