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We are currently on a 3,000+ km road trip with our three kids (aged 6-10) where they have spent hours and hours in the car. We didn’t want them zoned out on electronics the entire road trip. We wanted them to experience a road trip like we did as kids with lots of time for reading, games and looking out the window.
Our kids have spent hours on buses, trains and planes and we have some favourite unplugged travel activities for kids that we want to share today.
- 1 Travel Activities for Kids 5-12 years old
- 1.1 Reading
- 1.2 Podcasts
- 1.3 Best Roadtrip Magazines for Kids
- 1.4 Roadtrip Activity Books for Kids
- 1.5 Roadtrip Games for Kids
- 1.6 Unplugged Kids Activities
Travel Activities for Kids 5-12 years old
There is nothing like settling into a good old-fashioned book on a long road trip. Especially if you aren’t prone to car sickness! I am a fan of kids reading in whatever way works for them. Technically this post is about non-electronic activities, but if your kids prefer to read on an e-reader, go for it!
Here are some top picks that our kids are enjoying right now:
Top Books for Kids 10+
- Percy Jackson series, by Rick Riordan – gets kids excited about Greek Mythology
- I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzia, Young Reader Edition – develops global minded kids
- Renegades, by Marissa Mayer – a great YA book that my daughter loved
Top Books for Kids 6+ (chosen by my 8 year old reluctant reader)
- The 13-Story Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths – great series
- Dog Man series – I don’t get it, but my 8 year old devours them
- Harry Potter series – classic fun to read out loud as a family
- Bad Dad, by David Walliams – all of his books are amazing
Our kids also love to listen to audiobooks, which we usually download from our local library. These are perfect for our 6 year old, who is just starting to read independently. It is also a great option if your kids are prone to car sickness. The kids can listen with headsets or we bluetooth it through the whole car. These are our favourite type of kids’ headphones. Here are some other great options for headphones for toddlers and kids.
We adults love listening to podcasts and in the last year we have discovered amazing podcasts for kids. Best of all, many of these are super educational, while being entertaining at the same time. Yes, they are facilitated through technology, but they are a great alternative to screen time. Be sure to download them before you set off if you are traveling without wifi.
Our Favourite Podcasts for Kids:
- The Unexplained Disappearance of Mars Patel (recommended for 8-12 years olds, but are 6 year old loved it too)
- Wow is the World – produced by NPR (USA), this show takes on interesting science questions
- Stories Podcast – engaging classic stories that the kids will know and new ones too
- Stuff You Should Know – random information this is awesome for adults and kids (8+)
Best Roadtrip Magazines for Kids
I will often pick them kids up a magazine each before a big road trip. Magazines are great because you don’t need to really commit to them; you can just flip through them. They make a great travel activity for kids of all ages.
Magazines for Kids:
Roadtrip Activity Books for Kids
The right activity book can keep kids entertained for a really long time. I will often buy the kids a new activity book before a big trip. I sometimes see some great activity books, but they are massive and not conducive to traveling with. Smaller is better here! HOT TIP – if you are traveling for a long time, have the kids rip out the completed sheets to lighten the load.
Here are some of our recent favourite activity book travel activities for kids:
- Usborne Activity Books – we love their logic puzzles and brain teasers. Educational and fun!
- Lonely Planet – LP is synonymous with travel and it makes sense to expose the kids to places they might go and travel themed activity books. We overdosed on sticker books when the kids were younger, but this Theme Park Sticker Book is my youngest’s fav right now.
- Lego Activity Books – my boys don’t always dig activity books, but the Lego Star Wars ones include a mini-figurine, comics and activities.
- Maths Quest Mysteries – solve a series of math quizzes to complete the mystery in a choose-your-own adventure format, best for 8-12 year olds
- Madlibs – I loved playing these when I was a kid. The whole family can participate in creating funny stories that are laugh-out-loud funny.
- Soduku for Kids – can you tell our family loves math? Even my 6 year old has started working on these number puzzles.
- The Treehouse Fun Book – fans of the Treehouse series books will love this compact activity book.
- Mazes – not just plain rectangular ones, fun themed ones that keep kids busy for hours.
Roadtrip Games for Kids
We are huge family game fans and one of the things I look forward to the most about traveling is our evening ritual of a card game. You can read about our top 10 games for great ideas that the whole family can enjoy together.
On travel days, we look for games that are portable, require little space and engage the kids. Here are some of our top picks for travel games for kids right now:
- Rush Hour – a brain teaser that you hopefully won’t have to play in rush hour. I loved playing it when I was a kid and now my kids love it too. Available in the standard or junior version (we have the standard one).
- IQ Link – these puzzles are really small and come in a variety of styles to suit different ages.
- License Plate Poker – when “I Spy” gets boring, this is a fun game that the whole car can play
- Smart Games – these magnetic puzzles will stretch their brains and keep them busy (Waterworld)
- Scavenger Hunt or Spot It – get the kids looking outside with these updated “I Spy” games
- Simon – technically this required batteries and it can be obnoxiously loud, but our kids love this memory game
Unplugged Kids Activities
While we endeavor to have lots of unplugged activities for the kids when we travel, they do still use their ipads. We certainly aren’t a tech free family. Mom and Dad need some peace and quiet once in awhile and the kids always get some screen time on travel days.
Favourite Apps right now:
- Terraria, similar to Minecraft. This is all our 6 year old talks about these days!
- 2048 – A sneaky math game that the 3 kids play and even Paul!
- Pottery Lite – sculpt pottery, paint it and sell it to make (fake) money.
- Crossy Road – A new age version of Frogger (for those who remember)
We are always on the look out for great kids activities for traveling. Let us know in the comments what some of your favourites are.
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