Patience on road trips or running errands can run thin on parents and passenger kids. One way to curb fuss is by keeping those in the backseat entertained for as long as possible. Here are some ideas for road trip activities for kids that span beyond the tablet and smartphone.

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Boogie Board Jot LCD Writing Tablet

The cool thing about LCD writing tablets is that they totally erase with the touch of a button. We’ve always been fans of the Boogie Board, but its newest version finally has what was lacking previously — a built-in stylus holder.

Kids can draw, make lists, use the tablet as a homework helper and play games like hangman or tic-tac-toe as road trip activities. It’s light enough to slide into a purse or backpack. I’d recommend that you also buy its sleeve for safekeeping.

Skip Hop Style Driven Activity Tray

Activity trays are must-haves as kids get older and are coloring, drawing, and playing in the car.

This one by Skip Hop has a pocket on the side for crayons and rounded edges for safety. The whole thing can be wiped down.

License Plate Game

Kids can play the license plate game even when driving around town. Melissa & Doug’s version can be kept in the car perhaps for kids to complete throughout the normal course of driving or for a road trip activity.

Wikki Stix Lil’ Traveler Playset

A pack of Wikki Stix alone can be good for hours of fun but this kit comes with sheets for tic-tac-toe, road trip bingo and more. These bendable sticks are super fun for kids and also don’t leave a residue.

Games on the Go

This little set of cards (5×6″) can make downtime fun for the whole family. It’s full of word games, trivia, memory exercises, and more. You could even attach it to a backpack or some activity trays.

Kids’ Audio Books

Children’s audiobooks are a fantastic road trip activity. Kids’ Bible stories, nursery rhymes, and even Harry Potter books are all available in audiobook form. You can even try them out first to see how the kids like them with a free Audible trial.

Kidz Bop

When lyrics on the radio aren’t yet suitable for kids, but they’re desperate to hear the latest Top 40 song, this is where Kidz Bop comes in. These are CDs that transform the lyrics of current songs into G-rated ones that are also sung by kids. Truthfully, these CDs are more enjoyable for adults than you might think.

You can also subscribe to the Kidz Bop channel on Sirius XM radio.

Kid-Safe Headphones

Maybe you’re not in the mood to hear Kidz Bop or an audiobook. This is where keeping kid-safe headphones in the car will help let them enjoy favorite road trip activities while you play your own tunes on the radio.

Good headphones also prevent kids from becoming frustrated by your music interfering with whatever they’d like to listen to. Many, many professional quality review sites like Wirecutter recommend Puro headphones as the best on the market for protecting young ears.

Backseat Cooler and Organizer

No matter the age, a hungry kid can wreck your ability to run errands or a road trip. Pack a stash of snacks and water that can sustain them when things take a bit longer than usual or in case of emergency.

Truthfully, I know adults who would enjoy this kind of backseat setup complete with a cooler.

DIY Solutions

A car lap desk can actually be something as simple as a cookie sheet pan if you think the kids can hold onto it. Most of them are magnetic (look for ones without Teflon), so why not stick some alphabet letters or other favorite magnets on it?

I also do know people who turn their cookie sheets into chalkboards using spray paint or chalkboard inserts. You can then let the kids have at it withchalk dustless washable chalk (if you think they can keep the chalk on the pan, that is).

Be sure to also have a look at my popular list of best travel games and long list of knock-knock jokes for kids. What road trip activities do your kids like in the car?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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