Road Trip; Courtesy of Evgeniy Kalinovskiy/
All Ages

9 Tech-Free Distractions for Your Next Family Road Trip

See recent posts by Tamara Gruber

Heading out on a road trip is the quintessential family vacation. But while road trips bring the promise of new discoveries and quality family time, they also include miles of co-existing in cramped quarters and the endless chorus of “Are we there yet?”.

In recent years, parents have turned toward smartphones and tablets to stave off the boredom that comes along with road trips. However, not every form of road trip entertainment needs to be electronic.

Our list of road trip toys and gadgets give parents an option for unplugged (or less plugged-in) road trips.

Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Bingo Game

1. Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Bingo Game

The Melissa & Doug wooden travel bingo boards are sturdy and durable, yet easily slip into the seat-back pocket. Kids may enjoy flipping shut the doors a bit too enthusiastically for parents’ ears, but the four double-sided game cards will provide hours of entertainment. And if they do tire of the game options, there are more printable game cards available online.


Spot It! On the Road Game

2. Spot It! On the Road Game

Are your kids naturally competitive? Put their observational skills to the test against each other as they race to identify symbols in common on the game cards. This version of the popular Spot It! game uses symbols of items that you will often see on the road. It will keep the kids occupied for at least a few exits!

Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Magnetic Pattern Blocks Set3. Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Magnetic Pattern Blocks Set

One of the downsides of travel toys is the small pieces that can end up all over the car, or lost forever! The nice thing about the Melissa & Doug magnetic blocks set is that it includes a nifty carrying case and the pieces are magnetic and don’t get lost easily. With so many puzzle options, the kids will stay busy and little ones will get lots of practice of fine motor skills.

Wikki Stix Travel Set

4. Wikki Stix Travel Set

Does your child have an active imagination? Because all it takes is an imagination and some Wikki Stix to assemble endless creations. These wax covered sticks can be bent and shaped to form animals, vehicles, and other shapes. The creations and extra sticks can be stored in the handy travel case. Just be sure not to leave it in the sun, as the wax will melt!

Crayola Triangular Crayons

5. Triangular Crayons

If you have a backseat artist, arm him or her with a travel art kit. Take a plastic carrying case and pack it with plain paper, stickers, and triangular crayons. The case can double as a lap desk. The triangular crayons won’t roll off at every bump on the road, getting lost in a spot beyond the reach of the seat belt.

Melissa and Doug License Plate Game6. License Plate Game

Have you played the license plate game, where you try to spot license plates from all the different states? Usually you need to keep a list in a notebook or use an app. The Melissa & Doug License Plate Game makes it even more fun and supports geography skills. Players can even compete with two different colors to flip over and track the states that have been spotted.

Mad Libs on the Road Book

7. Mad Libs on the Road

When you need to lighten the mood in the car with some laughs, it’s time to pull out the Mad Libs. Mad Libs on the Road make a perfect road trip companion. Plus, it will help reinforce the parts of speech and prevent the summer slide in English class!


Scratch and Sketch: National Parks and Landmarks Book

8. Scratch and Sketch

You don’t need to be an artist to create beautiful pictures with the Scratch and Sketch books. The National Parks and Landmarks edition makes a perfect addition to a family road trip. How fun it is that the kids get to create masterpieces of what they’re seeing on your trip!

National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas

9. National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas

Learning doesn’t have to stop in the summer! The National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas will keep the kids entertained while providing a geography lesson along the road. This jam-packed atlas includes interesting facts (expect to be quizzed later!), games, and activities.

Tamara Gruber lives in Rhode Island with her husband, daughter, and two cats. She shares her family’s travel adventures on and is the co-host of the Vacation Mavens family travel podcast.

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.