We take a lot of road trips as a family, and have been since both of the boys were infants. Over that time we’ve learned so many great car activities that make road trips even more fun for kids. Now, at 10 and 7, the boys are road trip pros, and regularly ask when we are going on a road trip again, or make suggestions on where we can road trip to next. There are a few things we take on every single road trip, and I’m sharing one of them today: activity folders for kids! These trusty folders have come in handy on each road trip, and as you’ll see, it is so easy to put together your own road trip activity folder for toddlers and young kids. For more family road trip tips, check out my tips for having the best, low-stress family road trip (including lots of car activities for toddlers and young kids), and how to make a Super Easy DIY Hanging Organizer for Your Next Family Road Trip.
These kid’s road trip activities folders are pretty basic. Everything we have in them can either be found at a drug store or dollar store or printed at home. I’ve got links for the road trip activity printables throughout the post along with details on all the road trip activity folder components so you can easily make one for the littles in your life.
How to make a kid’s activity folder for road trips
First, you need a folder. Feel free to recycle one you’ve got at home, or pick up a budget 1″ 3-ring binder from the store (I was able to find ones like these at my grocery store for less than $1). Using letter stickers from my supply of scrapbooking crafts, I put the kids’ names on the front of the folder so they can easily tell whose is whose, but you can also use different colored folders to help kids quickly identify which one is theirs.
Zippered pouches, crayons, colored pencils, and a pencil sharpener
We use zippered pencil holders (the kind with the holes to go inside a folder) to hold crayons. You can fill them with crayons you’ve already got at home, or grab a new pack of crayons that can permanently stay inside your kids’ road trip activity folders.
We also include colored pencils and a cheap pencil sharpener (look for a thin one that won’t add too much of a bulge to your road trip folder). I keep them in a separate zippered pouch, but there’s no reason that you can’t combine these with the crayons in a single pouch.
I have a plain pocket folder in each of the boy’s road trip activity folders. They can use them for things they collect during the trip, to store extra drawing paper, or whatever they’d like. Since these kinds of folders are usually available at a super reasonable price, adding one to your folder can further help you organize your children’s road trip activities.
Plastic sheet protectors
Plastic sheet protectors are an important component of our road trip folders. They can store things like stickers (you’ll see more on that later), but they come in the most handy for printable road trip games, as you’ll see in the next section.
Printable car activities and games
We found several great printable car activities for toddlers online, and by storing them in plastic sheet protectors we have been able to reuse the same printed paper for years. When playing the games, the kids can place stickers over the sheet protector (as opposed to crossing off the squares with a crayon), and remove the stickers if they want to play again or use the same printable for future road trips!
Here are our favorite free printable travel games that we have in our road trip activities folders:
- This state license plate game. My husband and I always have a lot of fun with the license plate game. We tend to take it much more seriously than the kids, and don’t even feel bad about it!
Coloring pages are another key component of our DIY road trip activity folders. Online you can find a huge variety of free printable coloring pages. We like to do a mix of road trip-themed coloring pages (like the US map and family road trip printable sheets you see above), coloring pages for the states or sights we are going to see to help engage the kids with where we are going (you can get coloring pages for different states on the Crayola website for free here), and coloring pages of characters and things they enjoy.
All of these were found online for free by searching on Google, and are great car activities for toddlers on road trips.
Another benefit to these free road trip coloring pages is that when the kids are done coloring a page, you can flip the pages over and use them as scratch paper for drawing.
An optional addition to your child’s road trip activities folder is a set of dividers. You can get by without them, but I like them for organizing the road trip games and different types of coloring pages.
We always have stickers in our boys’ road trip folders. They can be used for fun or to play the printable travel games. As I mentioned above, you can place stickers over the plastic sheet protectors to mark off spots on the printable road trip games, then pull the stickers off when you want to play again.
The inclusion of stickers in kids’ road trip activities folders gives your toddlers or young children an opportunity to decorate the outside of their folders, too.
Other games for your road trip folders
You can also find other free printable games and activities for your folders to keep the kids occupied during a road trip. For example, Sawyer loves mazes, and I found these great free maze printables (this website has lots of other fun printable puzzles, too). You can also find other printables like word searches, crosswords, Sudoku, and more online by searching on Google or Pinterest.
What else would you put inside a car activity folder for toddlers and young kids? Comment below!
More family road trip tips:
- Tips for having the best, low-stress family road trip (including lots of car activities for toddlers and young kids)
- Super Easy DIY Hanging Organizer for Your Next Family Road Trip
Family road trip route ideas:
- California 1 Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip: Big Sur Coastal Drive Stops
- Family Route 66 Road Trip
- Road Trip from Austin to New Orleans
- Family Road Trip from Texas to California
- Southern U.S. Family Road Trip Route and Recommendations
- Route and Recommendations for a Road Trip Through the U.S. Southwest
- Itinerary and Recommendations for a Family Road Trip from Texas to Washington, DC
- Route and recommendations for planning the ultimate Midwest baseball road trip