7 Activities to Keep Kids Entertained On Train and Bus Journeys

Travelling with kids can be great; their imagination and constant wonder and awe at the world and their surroundings can really make your own holiday experience a whole lot better. At the same time, we all know how difficult and erratic children can be, and when it comes to travel they can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare… From temper tantrums to impatience, boredom, hunger, and tiredness, there’s a lot to handle when travelling with kids, and it’s important to prepare yourself beforehand.


I think we can all agree that what brings out the worst in our children while travelling is being in transit! Whether that’s a train, bus, or plane, the waiting, discomfort, and boredom is no fun for a child. The best way for you and your kids to stay sane while travelling is to make sure they’re well entertained on those long long journeys from one place to another.


To help you out on your next family holiday, I’ve put together a list of 7 activities to keep your kids entertained on trains and buses. Sure, there’s always the old iPhone and iPad games, but when those batteries drain and there’s no hope left, you’ve gotta have some backup options. Try these out and keep that fun family holiday fun!


Train journeys

1. Tap into kids’ natural curiosity

Long distance trains can be a pretty fun way to travel, whether you’re an adult or a child! Make that train journey exciting and adventurous for your child by tapping into their imagination and creating a fun train travel story for them to be absorbed in. Debbie Dubrow, author of DeliciousBaby-Making Travel with Kids Fun suggests heading to the station well ahead of time to give kids the chance to savour this curiosity and sense of adventure. Allow them to explore the station, watch the trains arrive and depart, and build a sense of excitement for the upcoming journey. This is like a starter that will encourage the rest of the trip to go smoothly.


2. Research stations for interesting or fun features

Many big train stations have interesting features that can keep kids entertained during stopovers. If you’re going to be waiting at a train station for some time during your journey, research the station online and have a look at any artworks, installations, play areas, and so on that could keep kids busy while waiting. London St Pancras International, for example, has Platform 9¾ where kids can prepare to ride the Hogwarts Express - a good way to stay busy if you’re travelling around Europe via train!


3. Printable games

The great thing about trains is that kids are less likely to get motion sickness than travelling on buses, and you’re free to read, play, and so on without bumps and turns. Printable games are a fantastic and cheap way to keep kids entertained on trains. This website has a fantastic selection of printable games for kids of all ages, from bingo, tic-tac-toe, and snap to skeleton games, battleship, and Monsters University memory games. Just print them out before you leave, and have a pen and scissors handy for any cutting or drawing/writing. Kids will not only be entertained but they might also stay a bit quiet, which will be a nice relief!


4. Explore the train

Keep the blood flowing in your legs and let your kids release some energy by doing a tour of the train and all its different compartments. Visit the dining cart, and any other special carts, and walk to the front and back of the train to see the driver’s compartment. Kids will savour the change of scenery and it’ll give them a good chance to move around a bit so they don’t get so fidgety throughout the rest of the journey.



5. Scavenger hunts

Buses are a great place to play scavenger hunts and keep kids entertained on journeys - just make sure you give them the window seat! As buses are travelling on the road, there are plenty of things to look out for and cross off a scavenger hunt list. Here are a few travel bingo/scavenger hunt lists that are pre-prepared and ready for you to print out and use - one, two, three (for teens). If you’re feeling creative, you can devise your own scavenger hunt that’s personalised for the location you’re travelling. Some good things to include could be a McDonald's sign, a service station, a motorcycle, and so on.


6. Colouring books

A lot of kids can get motion sickness from reading, but colouring in doesn’t have the same effect! Keep kids busy by packing a few colouring books on your journey, along with a pack of crayons, pencils, or textas. Even older children can colour in, with adult colouring books taking the world by storm recently. Heck - even you can get in on the trend! Get the whole family colouring in and the bus trip will fly by. This is a good option if you’re travelling in the dark or if the scenery isn’t much to look at. If you don’t feel like investing in a colouring book, there are plenty of printable colouring pages for both kids and adults alike. Here is one for children, and one for adults or teens - both with plenty of options to choose from!


7. Classic road trip games

Well, a bus is not much different from a car is it? Road trip games exist for a reason, and that’s because they’re a great way to keep everyone entertained on those long long journeys. From the license plate game to I Spy and 21 Questions, there’s a wealth of fun road trip games you can play on those bus journeys without having to use anything but yourself! Here is a great list of creative road trip games that even adults will enjoy… My favourite is “While You Were Sleeping” - a fun game where you all get to make up a story about all the things that went on when someone falls asleep during the trip.


Already feeling relief at any upcoming bus or train journeys you had planned? Or perhaps you’re finally convinced that travelling by bus and train with kids is totally doable, and you’re ready to plan the adventure of a lifetime. Well, get in touch and I’ll do what I can to help you make that dream trip a reality!

By Lina Barakat

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Your MTA Luxury Travel Expert