Tips for Holiday Road Trips with Kids

Find out if you're getting ripped off on your car insurance in less than two minutes.
Find insurance savings (100% Free)
No long forms · No spam · No fees
Why you can trust Jerry
Jerry partners with some of the companies we write about. However, our content is written and reviewed by an independent team of editors and licensed insurance agents, and never influenced by our partnerships. Learn more baout how we make money, review our editorial standards, reference out data methodology, or view a list of our partners
If you’re traveling over the river and through the woods with little ones in tow, you need some serious ammunition to keep everyone happy! From coloring books to the “new hour, new toy” strategy, we’ve got you covered with these tips for holiday road trips with kids. 
Holiday road trips are stressful enough already. A simple flat tire could be enough to ruin your good mood and put your kid into an anxious tizzy. Don’t risk it. Make sure you have car insurance and roadside assistance with Jerry before you hit the road. Neither snow nor sleet will stop Jerry’s team from changing your flat, delivering fuel, or winching you out of a ditch.
Once that’s taken care of, you’re ready for a festive drive. These tips will keep you sane and keep your kids entertained.

Holiday road trip bingo

Can you spot a car with a tree on top? Do you see any snowmen in front yards? What about finding letters that spell W-I-N-T-E-R on license plates?
These are all great questions for a game of holiday road trip bingo.
Find a holiday road trip bingo card online or create your own before you leave. Younger kids can practice their spelling, and siblings can team up to complete their bingo cards before the trip ends. 
This is a great activity for kids who get carsick and need to look out the window. Plus, the light competition keeps everyone interested for longer.
Pro Tip: Sweeten the deal by including a reward for everyone who finishes a bingo sheet!

Coloring books and crayons

Who doesn’t love a good theme? Pick up a holiday-themed coloring book from a dollar store and some mess-free crayons. Stay away from markers that aren’t washable as they can leave stains on upholstery.
Consider looking for a book that combines coloring pages and activities, and be sure to select an age-appropriate one. Kids 10 and under will love more complex art and word searches, whereas young children tend to appreciate simple art with characters they already know and love.
Pro Tip: The trick to keeping kids entertained on a road trip is to choose themed, age-appropriate activities that differ from their regular schedule.

Listen to holiday books on tape

Head to the library or download the audio for a series of kids’ holiday books! Listen to a narrator animatedly read through Frosty, The Polar Express, or Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Plus, with this hack, you don’t have to wear out your voice to bring some holiday cheer to your kiddos! Audiobooks can easily entertain your kids for up to an hour at a time. If your kids have tablets, load up their devices with the audiobooks before you leave—and remember their headphones!

Play-Doh

It takes a bold soul to give a child Play-Doh in a car. However, Play-Doh is cheap and provides endless creative possibilities. 
To keep things contained, get a tray with a lip (or you can use a jelly roll pan from the dollar store). Add some holiday-colored Play-Doh, and you’re good to go. You may need to provide some prompts to get them started. See if they can make a snowman, a Christmas tree, or a dreidel. 
Pro Tip: You don’t need to spend a ton of money to entertain your kids. Hit the dollar store on your way out of town or check out some audiobooks from the library once you buckle up.

Make a countdown calendar for the car

Keeping track of time is hard for young children, which is one reason why kids love advent calendars so much (okay, maybe it’s the chocolate). Take the same concept and apply it to your road trip by creating a visible countdown to help them understand how much longer is left in your trip.
Try using coffee filters or simple paper bags, with one number for every hour (or 30 minutes) of your trip. Thread string through every item and then hang it up from the handles in the backseat. Whenever you pass the time mark, you can snip down or cross out the number. 
No more “Are we there yet?” moaning!

Use the “new toy, new hour” strategy

Embrace the dollar store! Buy one dollar store item per child for every hour you are in the car. Whenever the clock strikes, unveil a new gift. Consider it a rehearsal for the actual holiday!
Novelty is the key to keeping kids entertained, and this strategy allows you to stock up on surprises. You can use them as rewards, too, if your little ones need some incentive to behave. The dollar store has a ton of fun seasonal toys, and you could get 10 toys for $10. How’s that for a budget-smart strategy?

Turn the backseat into Santa’s workshop

Why not use the long road trip to inspire kids to craft gifts for someone special? Set them up with a task like finger-weaving or threading Fruit Loops on a string. 
This activity works like a dream if you can get the child excited about creating something for a particular loved one. It could be Grandma, a teacher, or their best friend. 
Pro Tip: When kids have an emotional reason (or a reward) for completing an activity, they’re far more likely to stay engaged for longer.

Keep it fresh with new holiday snacks

An empty tummy is a recipe for disaster, no matter how old you are! Keep little ones happy by stocking up on snacks. Ply them with a new goodie every hour or two. 
Find some seasonal goodies like a small bag of marshmallows or chocolate coins, and intersperse a few fan favorites like goldfish crackers and carrot sticks. 

Go caroling 

Here we go a-wassailing...from the back seat! Kids love to make music as a family. You don’t have to be a professional musician to enjoy caroling together.
Pack some noisemakers like maracas or a tambourine. Then, announce that you’ll be hosting a concert for the other drivers on the road. Play some favorite holiday tunes over the stereo system and sing along. You might be surprised how much joy children get out of banging on things and yelling “Jingle Bells.” (Er, you probably won’t be surprised if you have a toddler...)
Pro Tip: Some kids get carsick and some parents prefer a quiet drive. Know your family and choose activities that will make everyone (adults included!) happy.

Origami

For older kids, a long road trip is a perfect opportunity to practice their origami skills! Even better, one pack of origami paper will last for hours! Grab some in holiday colors and they can use the fruits of their labor as ornaments or decorations when they’re done.
All your child needs is a flat surface (like a tray or book), a pack of origami paper, and clear instructions. Look for some themed shapes like tiny Santas or evergreen trees. This activity is best suited for kids ages 8 and older.

Why you need roadside assistance

Wouldn’t you rather spend your road trip worrying about your mother-in-law instead of what would happen if your car gets stuck in a snowbank? 
Get Jerry’s roadside assistance for just $6.99 per month, and don’t worry about your horsepowered-sleigh getting stranded on winter roads. Your membership covers flat tire assistance, fuel delivery, towing up to 10 miles, and winching. 

Finding cheap car insurance

Most people spend a ton of money during the holidays. But it’s also the perfect time to treat yourself to some savings! Jerry can help you save money on your car insurance. The average Jerry user saves nearly $900 a year on their premium. Seriously! 
It takes 60 seconds to enter your information and pull up quotes from top companies. If you find a better deal than your current policy, Jerry will take care of the phone calls and paperwork. So you can HO, HO, HO and FA-LA-LA-LA-LA with the best of them.
“I just had to buy a new car, and I needed quick help to get insurance before I could get my plates. Because I work so many hours, Jerry was the ideal choice for getting things done without long phone calls and waiting periods.” ––Rosa G.
One strategy is to plan regular stops to encourage children to use the restroom. In an emergency, you can stop at a gas station or fast-food restaurant. Some families with toddlers who are still toilet training will bring a kid’s potty in the vehicle and line it with a plastic bag!

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

√
No long forms
√
No spam or unwanted phone calls
√
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free