15 Creative Tips for Keeping Your Kids Entertained on Long-Distance Trips

15 Creative Tips for Keeping Your Kids Entertained on Long-Distance Trips

Woohoo! Spring break is just around the corner. 

Are you planning a long-distance trip with your kids? Planning a trip with littles can feel overwhelming, and that’s only the tip of the travel iceberg. Along with figuring out what to pack for you and your kiddos, you also need to find ways to make the car (or plane) ride a bit more bearable. 

If you’ve done a long-distance trip with your little one before, you know it can turn into a rollercoaster of anxiety — especially when they keep asking, “Are we there yet?” Or, even worse, throwing their tablets down 1 hour into the journey because they’re already bored with it. 

We totally get it. We’ve been there. Long-distance travel with kids is hectic for the whole family. But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve compiled a list of fun activities to keep your kids entertained on that long plane or car ride so you can keep your sanity.

What to Add to Your Packing List

Your packing list is lengthy as is. But with the right items, you can make sure this trip is as relaxing and entertaining as possible. Here are some staples to add to your list to help your long-distance trip go smoothly. 

  • Bring their favorite books
  • Even if they can’t read yet, they’ll still enjoy the colors, characters, letters, and flipping through the pages. A favorite book can give you those much-needed moments of quiet during your trip.

  • Pack snacks
  • Road trips can quickly turn into a fast-food drive-thru competition. But you can’t stop every two hours just because your kids want a snack – you’ll never get there! Try packing some of your child’s favorite vegetables, fruits, and dips to help keep their hunger at bay.

  • Pack a surprise bag 
  • This one’s important. A surprise bag should consist of their favorite snacks (yes, definitely the cookies and chips) as well as their favorite packable toy. This can help stop tantrums in their tracks and keep your child happy. 

  • Pack small toys 
  • Pack the small toys they love but will probably forget to bring. These can be small vehicles, characters, a pop it, a doll, and so on. Try to grab everyone’s favorites. And if you have multiples of some, that’s even better for avoiding those pesky sibling squabbles. 

    Family Fun for Everyone

    We have to make sure parents are having fun too, right? After all, it’s a trip for everyone. Our kids have the best times when we also join in the fun. Here are some tips to create family memories during those travel days. 

  • Start a family band
  • If your kids have instruments at home, like a guitar, microphone, xylophone, or even maracas, bring them along. Each family member gets an instrument and can sing and dance in their seats! You can even give your new family band a name. It’s sure to be a rockin’ good time!

  • Play I-Spy
  • If a band feels a bit too loud, try this oldie but goodie! Play I-Spy with your child and see how many things they can point out. Or, build an I-Spy baggie by placing several items in a pencil case. Then they can search to find each item. 

  • Build with wax sticks
  • This one is perfect for both car and plane rides! Create flowers, characters, cars, and more with these fun, colorful wax sticks. This activity builds your child’s imagination and enhances their motor skills. How long has it been since you’ve had the time to sit and create something new? Break out the wax sticks and enjoy! 😉 

    Activity Trays Are Your New Best Friend

    Activity trays help keep your child’s belongings organized so you aren’t constantly turning around to look for things that have fallen. Or even worse — digging under the front seats to find those tiny toys. Whew! 

    To keep all your little one’s toys, pencils, and travel activities safe, get an activity tray — you won’t regret it. Here are some entertaining ways your child can use their tray. 

  • Think versatility
  • Try an activity tray with storage, a dry-erase board, and a tablet holder. Your child can use it to draw on their whiteboard or as a table for other travel activities and toys they’ve brought along. Bonus — It’s collapsable once they’re done using it! 

  • Turn the backseat into a movie theater
  • Put their favorite movie on their tablet and place it in the tablet holder. Give them some popcorn (or other age-appropriate snacks) to eat on their table. And enjoy an extra upside to an activity tray — no mess of food on the floor! 

    Build a Binder With Travel Activities

    Children need plenty to do, especially during long-distance rides. Building a travel activity binder is fun and prevents that dreaded phrase —  “I’m so bored.” Here are some entertaining printables you can add to their travel activity binders. 

  • Print a variety of activity sheets
  • The great thing about printables is the huge variety of topics and activities to choose from. But you don’t have to burn a hole in your pocket finding printables — check out these free printables for hours of coloring fun! 

  • Play Bingo! with cars 
  • Children love games! Add this fun car bingo to their activity binder. This download also includes an ABC road trip hunt and a kid’s boarding pass if you’re traveling by plane. 

  • Drawing fun on scratch paper
  • Who doesn’t love scratch paper? Scratching away the black to reveal all the bright colors under your drawing — it’s exciting! And we’ve got the perfect, packable scratch paper for your little one — our Scratchy Scratch Notepad! This even comes with a free bonus sample pack of our most popular stickers, including scratch-n-sniff!  

    Tech-Friendly Fun

    If there’s ever a time to break out the tablets, it’s during a long trip. They can help keep the peace during car rides, especially when you need some quiet time to focus on the road. 

    Consider adding a mobile hotspot to your cell phone plan. It allows you to turn on wifi from your phone to nearby devices. But if that’s not an option, no worries! Here are some tips for tech-related entertainment — with and without wifi. 

  • Download age-appropriate apps before you go
  • Many apps do not require wifi to use. And some apps that require wifi have an offline mode, so they can still play even when you’re not connected. Check out educational subscriptions, like ABC Mouse and Homer, which can keep your child learning on the go. Here’s a great list of free educational apps to explore.

  • Download shows and movies
  • If you have a television subscription like Netflix or Disney Plus, they have a download feature! You can download movies and tv shows to watch later without wifi. Just download your child’s favorite shows and movies under their profile, and they are set for hours of entertainment.

  • Download audiobooks
  • Audiobooks are a great way to keep the entire family entertained. You can download free audiobooks on different platforms, like Storynory. It includes educational content, fairy tales, myths, and much more. This is a great way to fill in the travel time.

    Have Safe (And Fun) Travels!

    Long-distance trips with children can be exhausting. But they don’t have to be overwhelming. We hope our tips make your long-distance adventures fun and exciting for everyone! Most of these activities are also wonderful for keeping kids entertained during plane rides. 

    If you’re traveling by plane, consider asking the flight attendant if the pilot has a “set of wings” they can give your child. It may help them feel more at ease and excited about planes — especially if they’re a bit scared. 

    Where are you and your little ones heading this spring break? We’d love to hear about your adventures and your favorite travel activities! Share in the comments to help other families find the best travel solutions.

    And be sure to follow us for more crafty ideas and family fun on social media @PLBFun. 

    Back to blog

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.