What do you never, ever want to forget when you travel with kids?
A stack of puzzle books of course! Puzzle books and activities keep the kids busy on the road, in the air, and during all those in between waiting times that crop up with you are on family holidays. While traveling you can always play some of these screen-free games for the car or listen to one of the choices on my list of the best audiobooks for family road trips, but when you need some quiet time, these best books puzzles are your best bet.
The best part is that no matter what your child's age or interest, there is a puzzle or activity book to suit their interest. So whether it's word searches, logic puzzles and brain teasers, math games or mazes, or that all important sticker album, check out some of our best puzzle book recommendations below!
Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.
Preschool Puzzle and Activity Books
These activity book choices are perfect to keep kids ages 3-5 busy while on the go. For more fun, check out the preschool selections on my list of Seek and Find Books for Kids.
First 100 Sticker Books. Preschoolers love stickers. There are a ton of these types of sticker books and they come so many different themes you can always find a book to suit your child's current obsession, from animals, to trucks to everything in between.
Highlights Sticker Hidden Pictures. You can't go wrong with Highlights!! The classic hidden picture puzzles are fascinating for preschoolers and the addition of stickers makes these books totally irresistible. You may not even realize all the learning that is taking place: observation skills and attention to detail, plus building self-confidence when each puzzle is completed. Bonus: there are a zillion themed books to choose from.
Ages 6 and Up
Most of these activity and puzzle books for lower elementary aged kids require a bit of reading skill, so choose according to your child's comfort level.
Extreme Dot to Dots. When he was younger, my oldest child loved these so much! And I even did them myself when I needed a little down time. They even come in sticker form, which are actually great for 5 and 6 year olds, and 3-D versions!
Super Mazes in Space. Chronicle Books sent us a copy of this title originally published in France and my youngest immediately went for it because he adores mazes. I like it because it is different from other maze books in that it both incorporates a story and is three-dimensional. I love the creative use of lift-the-flaps, cutouts, spinners and more interactive features that kids use to move through the mazes as they read the book. Great fun!
National Geographic Sticker Books. Who says big kids don't like stickers? The best thing about these books is that your kids can avoid the summer slide, learn a few new facts as well as indulge their need to place tiny bits of sticky paper on illustrated pages. Lots of themes: oceans, space and dinos, to name just a few.
Ages 8 and Up
Mid-upper elementary school-aged children and tweens will love the challenges that these puzzle books present to them!
Mad Libs. You knew I was going to suggest these, didn't you? After all, I have professed my obsession for this hilarious literacy enhancing game many, many times. Mad Libs have been our loyal dinner companion, travel partners and all-around general boredom buster these many years.
The Everything Kids' Puzzle Book: Mazes, Word Games, Puzzles & More! Hours of Fun! Like the title says, this book has everything. It's a great puzzle book choice for kids who like a huge variety of puzzles, and perfect for a long airplane ride or to take on a vacation when you know there will be a lot of down time for the kids to get antsy.
Perplexors Logic Puzzle Books. My oldest son loved, loved, loved these workbooks when he was younger. They weren't the biggest hit with my youngest, who's not always keen on logic-focused work but I highly recommend them for kids to build their thinking skills. If your kid enjoys puzzles they will love these books–and grown-ups will, too! The narrative logic puzzles come in several different levels as well as grid puzzles that require math skills.
Around the World in 80 Puzzles. This book, and the companion, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Puzzle Adventure, is so gorgeous! There are seek and find puzzles, mazes and more: all featuring intricate illustrations featuring brilliant modes of transportation inspired by Jules Verne's classic novels.
Origami and Poetry: Inspired by Nature. Origami is definitely its own type of puzzle and this is a great book to give to crafty kids who prefers to make something with their hands rather than pick up a pencil to solve puzzles in workbooks. Each poem has a corresponding origami animal to make. Includes 50 sheets of origami paper to make thirteen animals. Plus, you are introducing your kids to the magic of poetry, always a good thing!
Need more help for a road trip? Try these waiting games that will keep your kids off screens!