Parent and child high fiving

Planning a Road Trip? 6 Online Activities to Occupy the Kids

by Screen Time Team on 14/07/2021

Overview: Apps can make traditional road trip games more fun and dynamic for kids. Use singalongs, trivia, simple road trip games, and educational apps to keep the family entertained as you drive.

Singalongs And Music

One of the great advantages of music streaming is you can pick the songs of the summer. Create playlists of songs the entire family likes, vetting it with everyone who drives so they won’t be annoyed, and then sing with them. Add to the fun with a karaoke app that provides just the music, so everyone, even toddlers, can join in, or look for karaoke playlists on streaming. Be sure to download backups.

Books On Tape

Another useful form of entertainment is audiobooks, which have never been more accessible. If you buy them and download them ahead of time, you can simply play through chapters. This is good both for during the day, when you can play a chapter of an appropriate book for the family and then discuss your thoughts on it, or at night, when you can play a sleepytime story over headphones. 

Books on tape are particularly handy for summer reading lists, so you can talk about the books with your kids in more detail.

Don’t forget that family-friendly podcasts are another option, and you can create playlists of those as well.

For a good selection of recommended titles for family road trips, try Travel Mamas and Everyday Reading.  

Parent and child sticking their heads out the car window.

Board Games

Gone are the days of having to keep a bundle of cards together. Board game apps make it easy  to play games that would otherwise be a pain to set up in a car. The higher-tech versions eliminate manual score-tracking lost pieces and allow you to bring along an entire shelf of games. Nor will you be limited to the classics, although there are plenty of versions of those available as well.

You’ll probably want to use a tablet for this and may want to consider installing parental control software to limit both any in-app purchases you haven’t agreed to first and to prevent your kids from loading malware by mistake.

Find great lists of board game apps, 20 Great Board Game Apps and Great Board Game Apps Vol. 2, at The Tabletop Family

Interactive Maps

There are several interactive maps online that kids can use to get a better sense of the history around them; a Google search should turn up quite a few. These apps highlight historical markers along the way, usually offering a clickable window to watch videos, listen to audio, or to read more about what happened and why it’s worth remembering.

And don’t forget that even a simple map telling kids where they are can be educational. Have them look up where you are, how far it is from your destination, how fast you’re going, and what towns they’re driving by to learn a little geography. For older kids, Google Earth may be the ultimate travel map with no download required; it’s available with just a browser. 

For a round-up of geography app recommendations along with entertainment ideas, check out this page from the Orbitz travel blog. This article also has some great tips to maximize your internet connection while on the road.

Creative Apps

If your kids like to draw, compose music, or learn a language, bring apps along that can help them with those goals. Some of them may require a stylus or similar, and the bigger the tablet the better for some art apps, but all of them will make driving time more interesting while encouraging creativity in your kids.

For an excellent list of creative apps for kids of all ages, visit Common Sense Media.

The Tried-and-True

No road trip list would be complete without mention of the classic driving games, from license plate bingo to I Spy, and there are even apps available to play updated versions of those games. 

As a final tip, to limit tears and keep a screen-time schedule in place during your trip, parental control software can help.  Help your kids get better screen time, with Screen Time. 

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