7 Packable Projects for Road Trip Kindness

Add joy and meaning to your drive time.

Whether you're heading a couple of hours away for a quick weekend at the cabin or checking a National Parks Trip off your bucket list, your family road trip is sure to be an essential highlight of the summer.

Sure, there will be tense moments waiting for a rest area or pointing out your remaining drive time, yet again. And sure, you'll run into snags: a missed reservation, a lost sandal, a backseat fist fight. But when you've all returned home, most parents and children agree that this time away together is the best inside-joke producer, sing-a-long opportunity, and memory-maker in the history of family time.

Here at Doing Good Together, we'd like to suggest one small addition to your family adventure: plan for a few intentional acts of road trip kindness.

Let's teach our children that our essential values of compassion and empathy don't take a vacation. Acts of kindness are a natural part of daily life, even on the road.

I've gathered a list of my favorite portable project ideas, in preparation for my own family's upcoming road trip. These are all projects my kids have done before, enjoyed, and occasionally instigated on their own.

This is how I know they'll be a great distraction in the car, well worth the five minutes it took me to print and pack them into a folder.

1. Try our new Family Road Trip Conversation Starters!

These prompts are full of open-ended opportunities to discuss big ideas, long-forgotten memories, and silly imaginings. Looking for more? Grab our 29 Daily Conversation Starters for Families.

2. Create cheerful drawings, coloring pages, and thank-you cards to leave with your tip for servers.

Sharing your gratitude is such a simple, welcome act of kindness. Spend time in the car creating a few colorful thank-yous to have on hand. Then leave these cards with a tip for a server, tour guide, bus driver, or anyone else who makes your travel days a little brighter. My family loves the positive, empowering quotes in this Good Vibes Coloring Book. (We're on our third copy of this version). And this handy book of Thank You Cards is also perfect for a quick token of gratitude on the road.

This was our moment of Car Window Poetry in action. In the end, both the giver and receiver of this home-made joke had happy hearts.

This was our moment of Car Window Poetry in action. In the end, both the giver and receiver of this home-made joke had happy hearts.

3. Leave behind a trail of Car Window Poetry.

I've mentioned my love for this project before. It couldn't be simpler. Print the official poetry cards ahead of time. Fill them with poems, jokes, inspiring quotes, or general good cheer, and leave them behind on cars along your route. Then, watch Instagram for the hashtag #carwindowpoetry. You just might discover your creations there!

4. Give a big-hearted award!

Print a few copies our simple template. Then decorate them as you drive. When you visit something spectacular, like a park, monument, or museum for example, write your favorite memory across the top, and hand your award to the staff as a thank you. This simple act of recognition will surely warm a heart or two. Plus, concluding your visit with a sense of gratitude will make the event even more meaningful for your child.

5. Send travel postcards with our Magic Mail printable.

Print and prepare a few addresses using our Magic Mail printable. Spend drive time writing postcards for soldiers, children in the hospital, your elected representatives, and of course, friends and family. Don't forget stamps!

6. Design your own cards for quick acts of kindness.

Decorate these fun kindness cards while you drive, then look for opportunities to share immediate acts of kindness with fellow travelers. This list of ideas will get you started.

7. Be prepared to pick up litter.

If you're planning to spend time in nature, review the seven principles of Leave no Trace. Then commit to making the trail you travel a little cleaner than you left it. This means keeping a few plastic bags and a thick gardening glove on hand just in case.

Add in a few printable car games, like Road Trip Bingo, the License Plate Game, and a dozen others in this great post by The Joys of Boys, and you'll be ready for all kinds of road trip fun.  When we return, I'll let you know how these activities worked for us on the road.

I hope you share your big-hearted travel stories too! Inspire others with your Comments below!

How has your family shared kindness on a family road trip?

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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.