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Best Overall: Travel Bingo at Amazon
"The miles will fly by when kids are studying the scenery as they try to win a round."
Best Budget: Mad Libs on the Road at Amazon
"Mad Libs pads are an inexpensive way to learn about sentence structure and parts of speech."
Best Family Game: Scavenger Hunt for Kids Game at Amazon
"Family members can team up, so even the driver can play along."
Best for Ages 3 to 5: Crayola Color Wonder Markers & Pads at Crayola
"Lets your little ones color in the backseat without ruining your car's upholstery."
Best for Ages 4 to 7: Melissa & Doug Travel Memory Game at Amazon
"A built-in numbered scoreboard lets kids keep track of their matches without losing the pieces."
Best for Ages 8 to 12: Roxenda Speed Cube Set at Amazon
"The challenge of solving these puzzles will motivate your tweens to put down their electronic devices."
Best for Sibling Play: Take ‘N’ Play Anywhere Games at Amazon
"Siblings can play checkers, hangman, and tic-tac-toe together in the backseat."
Best Creative Art Toy: Wikki Stix at Amazon
"These are perfect for road trip art because they’re mess-free and don’t require parental help."
When you’re heading out for a family road trip, it’s easy to bring along an electronic device and headphones so the kids can play some games and watch videos. But most parents also want some creative games and toys to give kids a break in screen time. And it’s smart to have back-up entertainment for when the device is on the fritz or the battery runs out.
The best options for portable toys are ones that keep kids entertained, without being too noisy, messy, or bulky. An added bonus is when the game appeals to kids of different ages and can be fun for the entire family. Depending on your kids’ ages and interests, you may have to pack several different items to make everyone happy. But you're sure to find some fun and stimulating options on this list.
Read on for our picks of the best toys and games for family road trips.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Travel Bingo
Kids of all ages love bingo, so these Travel Bingo boards are perfect if you’re looking for a fun, affordable, and travel-friendly game for your entire brood. The miles will fly by when kids are studying the scenery as they try to win a round. It works like this: after spotting various items such as a truck, stop sign, or mailbox, they simply slide the window over a space to mark it. The first person to get five spaces in a row wins. If a child wants to play alone, they can create challenges for themselves, such as attempting to fill up the entire board.
The set comes with two durable auto bingo and two interstate bingo cards that can be reused over and over again. There’s a great mix of city and rural items, so this game is perfect for wherever your family is headed.
Best Budget: Mad Libs on the Road
Loved by both kids and adults, Mad Libs is classic road trip fun, providing families with hours of laughs and entertainment during long car rides. With the road trip version of this popular word game, kids can help create car songs, describe historical sites, and tell funny stories about vacations, all while writing and learning (without even realizing!) about sentence structure and parts of speech. Mad Libs pads are perfect for families with a wide range of ages and these fun-filled pads are so inexpensive that you may even want to stock up on the other Summer Fun and Vacation Fun themed ones.
Best Family Game: Scavenger Hunt for Kids Game
The whole family can play this game in the car as they all try to spot objects listed on these Scavenger Hunt for Kids cards. In addition to cards with objects such as "red car" or "license plate with the letter Z", the special “Hear It”, “Feel It”, and “Smell It” cards encourage kids to use all five of their senses to explore their surroundings. Family members can team up, so even the driver can play along. The 54 cards are durable and high-quality, so they’ll hold up for countless games and hours of fun on the road.
Best for Ages 3 to 5: Crayola Color Wonder Markers and Coloring Pads
Most kids love getting creative with markers, but parents have good reason to worry about them staining their skin, clothes, and any fabric they’re coloring near—especially in the car. That’s where these no-mess Crayola Color Wonder Markers and Coloring Pads come in. The markers work only on the special Color Wonder paper, so you don’t have to fret about kids ruining the upholstery when they’re coloring in the backseat. The durable storage case also doubles as a lap desk, so it’s easy for your little ones to color in the car and then tote the markers and paper into a roadside restaurant when you stop for a meal. There’s a huge variety of coloring book themes to choose from, so you can keep it fresh.
Best for Ages 4 to 7: Melissa & Doug Travel Memory Game
Known for their creative and well-made toys, Melissa & Doug provides a clever way for kids to play the classic memory matching game on the go. This sturdy Travel Memory Game features 24 wooden tiles attached to the board with bungee cords, so they can be flipped up, but still stay attached and won't get lost. Kids can choose from fourteen different fun themes, slide one of the laminated cards into the board, and then start flipping up the tiles to look for matches. They can play alone or challenge someone else. The built-in numbered scoreboard lets them keep track of their matches and because there are no loose pieces and everything can be conveniently stored inside the board, so this game is perfect for travel.
Best for Ages 8 to 12: Roxenda Speed Cube Set
The challenge of solving these intriguing puzzles will motivate your tweens to put down their electronic devices during your family road trip. This set comes with a classic 3 x 3 x 3 cube, a 2 x 2 x 2-speed cube, as well as a pyramid puzzle. They’re very smooth and easy to manipulate, even for small hands. With three puzzles with different degrees of difficulty to choose from, kids can start with the easiest puzzle and work their way up.
Best for Sibling Play: Take ‘N’ Play Anywhere Games
Go old school with these classic kids’ games in magnetic, travel-sized boards. Siblings can play checkers, hangman, and tic-tac-toe together in the backseat, and then the whole family can continue the fun once you get to your destination. With three different games to choose from, kids can switch it up when they start to get bored. Recommended for kids ages five and up, the games feature magnetic pieces that stick to the boards, so you don’t have to worry them sliding off and getting lost. You can easily stash the tin cases the seat pocket and all the pieces fit inside, which makes clean-up a cinch.
Best Creative Art Toy: Wikki Stix
Wikki Stix are bendable sticks made of yarn and wax that kids can shape into flat or 3-D creations. They’re perfect for road trip art because they’re mess-free and don’t require parental help. Suitable for kids ages three and up, Wikki Stix don't contain any toxins, latex, gluten, or other allergens. Younger kids can use them to learn basic shapes, letters, and numbers, while older kids can get creative and use their imaginations to make more intricate designs. This package comes with 48 Wikki Stix in six different colors. They’re endlessly reusable, compact, and portable. When kids are done creating, you can simply put the Wikki Stix back in the resealable package and store them in a cool place.