7 Ways to make Road Trips more Exciting for Kids

The concept that the journey is more important than the destination is not quite accurate when it comes to kids. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? It’s taking forever!!!!” Does this sound familiar? This is the reality of traveling with kids if you don’t come prepared. As parents, we want to take our kids everywhere – to discover, to learn, to immerse. They are usually excited about the destination, but the long road ahead or even the long wait at the airport (not even factoring the possible delay) is not ideal and sometimes – it can get pretty stressful.

We’ve taken the kids on long international flights (17 hours) multiple times and long road trips (7 hours one-way) and I’d say we’ve learned a lot and may have mastered making the journey more fun or as fun and exciting as the destination itself. Here are 7 Ways to make Road Trips more Exciting for Kids, you can apply these tips when you’re taking on a long flight as well.


1. Make the destination a surprise

I let the kids pack their own clothes by letting them know how many days and nights we will be away but that’s all I care to share. We try not to tell them where we are going because once they know, they get excited initially then it deflates once we are on the road because it’s no longer a surprise and it now becomes a question of how long is the trip going to take. We’ve kept our destination a surprise a couple of times now and it has proven to be effective. From our trip to Orlando, the 3-day San Diego Theme Park getaway, to our recent Central Coast Road Trip.

2. Let them research fun facts if it’s an educational trip or destination

Tip #1 won’t work if you’re headed some place not super kid-friendly but more of an educational trip. When we arrived at Hoover Dam during our California-Arizona-Nevada Road Trip, the kids were less enthusiastic coz’ they don’t really know what’s so important about what we were looking at. But one day, our daughter came home from school talking about the Grand Canyon and how much she wanted to go there. My husband and I looked at each other thinking – if we take her there without knowing anything about it, she’ll just think – why are we looking at these rocky cliffs. Beautiful as it may be, without the fun facts she has learned in school, she won’t really looked at it with much amazement. So lesson learned, let them know important facts about the destination if it involves an engineering feat or a natural wonder before you go. And yes, we’ll do another trip to Hoover Dam again when we get the chance.

3. Pack Snacks & Drinks

It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5 hour drive or a 2 hour drive, with kids, you must always pack snacks. Our youngest will actually want to eat the moment we get to the freeway. I pack both their favorite snacks & snacks they haven’t had in a while. And while we’re at it, don’t forget their drinks.

4. Play a game as a family

Get everyone involved. We play “I Spy with my little eye” where we take turns as a family in looking for things we see on the road and have the others figure what we saw. “I spy with my little eye.. something red!” Another game our eldest loves playing is making a word after the last letter of the word has been said by another player. If I say “violeT”, she has to come up with a word that starts with a “T” and so on and so forth.

5. Let the Kids Connect through a Game

During our flight back from our Orlando Getaway, our flight was delayed for 5 hours. What do we do now? Eat, look around the stores, it’s only been 2 hours. 3 more hours to go! The hubby, out of nowhere brought out his good Ol’ Nintendo Gameboy and it entertained them for some time. For this generation, there is now a New Nintendo 2DS XL to keep the kids entertained both on long road trips and flight delays. The best part, they can play together as you can connect both gaming consoles so even if they are strap in into their car seats, they can still play together in the form of a race (like Mario Kart game) or a challenging course (like the Captain Toad game) through their New Nintendo 2DS XL which by the way is lightweight and doesn’t heat up while they play. We do set a limit as to how long they can play though, when their time is up, it’s mommy’s turn I guess. Haha.

6. Quick pit stop at the store or stop at a scenic view

This applies to long road trips and even being at the airport especially when there’s a delay. We make a stop at the gas station store or airport souvenir shop to stretch those legs and look around. This helps change the mood during those long journeys. But we also make sure to stop when we see a beautiful scenery to take pictures. Speaking of which, the New Nintendo 2DS XL can actually take pictures too.

7. Make the kids the DJ

Our kids are big fans of singing so we let them be the DJ when we are traveling so they can sing to their favorite tunes. This literally keeps them busy and unaware that we’ve already covered a lot of miles.

Got any tips to Make Road Trips more Exciting for Kids? Share them with us. You can also check out our other Travel Tips!

disclosure: we received the New Nintendo gaming devices and games to facilitate this post. All opinions are our own.


I grew up with the Nintendo Entertainment System back in the 80s. My brothers would teach me how to play but unfortunately, I never got out of Mario Bros. Level 1-1. I aced Duck Hunt though. Now, the kids are the ones teaching me and I’m so excited to be playing the games with them. I can proudly say that this time, I’m actually not stuck on level 1 on any of the games anymore. Haha.

Here are some reasons why we love the New Nintendo 2DS XL:

  • Lightweight & doesn’t heat up when playing: approx. 9.2 ounces only
  • Long battery life – AC adapter included
  • Clamshell design keeps the screen protected
  • Available in 2 colors: white + orange & black + turquiose
  • You can browse the internet – What!? Yes!
  • Take pictures with its built-in camera
  • Make sound recordings
  • Turn yourself into a character
  • Play a lot of games – Mario Kart is the kids favorite! I enjoy the Captain Toad game. We want to get the Mario Party game next, it contains 100 games.
  • Play with other people on your device – local or online
  • Parental Controls
  • Cost only $149.99

Note: So you don’t get confused since there’s a 2DS and a 3DS. Here are the variations in terms of the Nintendo gaming devices:

  1. New Nintendo 3DS XL (same as what we have except you play games in 3D)
  2. New Nintendo 2DS XL (what we currently own)
  3. and, Nintendo 2DS (flat design and doesn’t close like a clam).

In terms of the games, 3DS games can be played on the 2DS. You can buy the physical product to load to your gaming device or buy a digital one. I would suggest getting the physical product as there may not be enough storage space to download a lot of digital games into the device.


8 thoughts on “7 Ways to make Road Trips more Exciting for Kids”

  1. We make sure they kids have their tablets charged and each kids have their own headphones. I would put on the hot spot on my phone and everyone normally watches Netflix for most of the trip. We also play the classic car games and sing along to music.

  2. I’m from a pretty large family, so road trips were the only way we vacationed growing up. I loved them! These are great ideas for making my kids have equally as wonderful memories.

  3. My parents don’t like to fly, so all of our family vacations were road trips. This brings back tons of memories! We always played road games like you suggest . . . seeing how many different license plates we could spot was a favorite.

  4. Oh those were the days, Gameboy back in the 90s. The hubby still has Gameboy. Haha. Now this Nintendo is so advance, I’m sure he’ll love it. My eldest love creating characters with it coz’ you can take a picture of a family member and turn into a cartoon character.

  5. My parents tried the “let the destination be a surprise” idea. They told me that we were going somewhere but wouldn’t tell me where. I convinced myself that we were going to Disney World. And then I found out we weren’t when we arrived someone an hour from our house. I was so disappointed! So, while I like the “let the destination be a surprise” idea, I set guidelines/hints so that my kids do not think its something they’ve had their heart set on when it may not be.

    • Oh my! Thanks for the tip. So far, we’ve made sure they will really get surprised. But I’ll keep that in mind – to give some hints so they won’t get disappointed that it’s not what they are thinking. I think as kids, we will always think it’s a trip to the theme park, hahaha.

  6. What fun ideas!! My son always enjoys looking things up and doing the research on his own whenever we travel some place new. But you have me intrigued with the Nintendo 2DS. I still remember having so much fun playing my old Nintendo Gameboy on car trips! I bet my son would enjoy doing the same 🙂

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