Whether you are going an hour to your family’s house or taking a trip across the country, chances are you will find yourself taking a road trip with your teen at some point. Finding things to do on a car trip for a teenager that they will enjoy and won’t drive you crazy can be hard. We’ve done several epic road trips recently, including a 5 week trip in our van across much of the country with our 3 kids.
Below we are sharing a list we found of some of the activities and things to do on a car trip for a teenager, as well as the essential items to pack for a road trip for tweens and teens.
Looking for more information on planning a road trip with teens? Check out the posts:
- A Complete Guide to the Best Road Trips with Teens and Tweens
- 12 Steps to Create the Perfect Plan for Road Trip Success (A Complete Guide)
- The Complete Road Trip Packing List for Families (5 Lists to Make Packing Easy)
Why do you need to Find Things to do on a Car Trip for a Teenager?
Teens can be great to travel with, but spending a full day driving with a moody teenager can also be challenging. Having a list of things to do on a car trip for a teenager can be the difference between a fabulous drive and everyone wanting to pull there hair out!
We also try to balance teens sinking into their electronic hole where you don’t hear from them for hours and spending time together as a family. Having some ideas in advance and deciding what to bring on a road trip for tweens and teens will make your teen road trip go more smoothly.
20 Engaging Things to Do on a Car Trip for a Teenager
Phone and Electronics
Ok – let’s get the big one out of the way to start with! You kid will likely want to use their phone (or other electronic device) on your road trip. With a good pair of headphones your teen or tween can watch movies, play games, text with friends and more. Depending on how your family approaches using phones this could easily be what they do for the entire road trip and it should be included on a list of things to do on a car trip for a teenager.
So why do you need anything else to do? When we travel with our kids, we are doing just that -travelling WITH our kids. Once they start using their phone, they disappear into a deep hole. Finding other things to do on a road trip is healthy for everyone.
There are many ways you can handle this and each family balances this differently. You can suggest other activities for your kids, you can set time limits for using phones on your road trip, or you can ask your kids to put down there phone for certain parts of the drive.
For long drives, we ask our kids to limit themselves to 1/3 of the drive watching a screen, 1/3 of the drive that can listen to their own music or audiobook, and for the other 1/3 they need to do something completely off electronics. We try to make sure that if we’re actually driving in a National Park our kids are not on their phones!
The big message, do what works best for your family and feel free to adjust if needed based on the day and the drive you are doing.
Read a Book
Don’t let your kids leave home without a book! This can be an actual paper book, or an electronic reader. If you need some book ideas for teens and tweens about travel, check out some suggestions here.
Mad libs are fun and interactive. My kids love these even as they get older and it’s a fun and goofy thing to do with teens on a road trip.
My teens usually travel with a journal or notebook of some type. Being in a car means they have time to draw and color. You can also get your kids adult coloring books and some colored pencils.
Music and Music Games
Listening to music is great on a road trip. My kids like to download some of their own tunes and we enjoy listening to local radio as well. You can also try our music game. Over the years, we’ve also developed a music game we love to play in the car. One person is in charge and they put on the first 5 seconds of a song. The other people try to come up with the song and the artist. If they can’t get it, we play a little more of the song. We love to switch from modern music to older tunes as well.
Group Word Game
If you are looking for road trip with teenager ideas, you are likely looking for some interactive games to plan in the car. Here are a few ideas of different games you can play in the car with your teen or kids.
Alphabet Category Game: choose a category and starting with A, go through the alphabet and name everything you can think of in that category that starts with that letter. Our favorite categories: places, animals, food, vegetable, etc.
Categories with start and end of words: Choose a category. Say a word in that category (if you are doing animals, you could say goat). The next person needs to use the last letter of that word and find a new word that starts with that letter (since goat ends in T, the next word could be turtle).
Alphabet Game: find words on signs that you drive by starting with the letter A and working through the alphabet
20 Questions: One person thinks of an object. The other people can ask up to 20 questions to try to figure out what the object is.
2 Truths and a Lie: Each person comes up with 2 true things and 1 lie and you try to guess which one if the lie
Group Game with Props
If you’ve exhausted all your word games, there are a few interactive games you can play with your phone or you can purchase a game. These make excellent road trip activities for teens.
Heads Up – this is one of our favorites and is possible to play in the car – it is an app you can get on your phone.
We’ve also brought some card and other games to play in the car. Some of our favorites include:
If you’re looking for more travel games, check out: The Best Board Game for Travel and About Travel
There’s nothing like a long car ride to get to know each other even better! On your next teen road trip, ask each other meaningful questions. You can find our list of 100 Conversation starters here or get one of the books below. You can also purchase our adventure-based conversation starters through Etsy.
A few silly, well timed gifts
This is a trick we used when our kids were young, and it still works with teens. Get a few fun little things to share with your teens when you’re travelling.
Take a Break
It’s important to break up long car rides with breaks. If you can stop at interesting spots along the way wher eyou can stretch your legs. Walks, beaches, and museums all make great stops.
Snacks make great distractions and are road trip essentials for teens. Bring along a mixture of healthy snacks and some treats to keep things fun.
My teens and tweens love riddles and you can easily share riddles for hours in the car. You can find good riddles online or take a look at the 125 Best Brain Teasers of All Time.
Listen to a Podcast
Podcasts are great and you can select one that interests your kids. Listen to the podcast as a group or let you teens listen on their own.
My kids love random facts and we’ve used hours reading and sharing our favorite random facts. You can do a search to find some online or check out this book full of random facts.
Tell a Group Story
One of you started by telling a few sentences of a story – then the next person takes over and you keep going around. We’ve done this game with just saying one word, but I think a few sentences is more fun.
Stop and Take Photos
Take time to stop for epic photos along the way. Remember that even if you’re driving through an area you don’t consider that exciting, remember the most exciting subject for your photos is you and your family!
Don’t underestimate a good old nap when you’re creating a list of road trip ideas for teens. Teens need sleep so encourage your kids to take a rest.
Tags: things to do on a car trip for a teenager, road trip packing list for teens, things to do on a car trip for kids
For some road trip inspiration, check out: