40+ Tips for Road Trips with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Road Trip Games & Activities:

    • Cheap Car Entertainment:  Get a bunch of cheap toys (stickers, figurines/dolls, trinkets, magnifying glass, noise makers, etc). Individually wrap them before hand so part of the fun is unwrapping them or put them into a nifty Travel activity box or bag {we made this one for a friend and it might give you some ideas}.
    • Make a felt activity board:  Do you remember those flannel-graphs from Sunday School classes decades ago?  Why not make your own to bring on your trip.  You can make stick figures and dress them up, or pretend to create a new and better car or bug or alien!  Use you imagination.
    • Make a map of your journey:  Create your trip map and track it with the kids.  You could add a “treasure map” component by rewarding checkpoints along your trip.  As you reach certain points they can get a toy/snack.  This teaches them map skills while also occupying them with toys and the anticipation of the destination.  We printed our map off of Google maps and inserted it into a plastic sleeve.  A dry erase marker wiped off of it nicely and it was nice to have a retort to, “are we there yet?”

    • Mini-white board:  Color with dry erase markers (these can stain your carseat cover or kids clothes) or with the new Crayola wipeable crayons (these don’t stain).   Take a CD case and replace the cover with white paper.  You can store a tissue, or better yet, a dried out diaper wipe – they are more sturdy – to wipe with inside the case.  It is an instant mini-white board.  Another adaptation, use a hand held mirror to color on.  Magnadoodles are great too!
    • Books on CD:  Take some books on CD or better yet, read to the kids aloud {CDs take up less space}.  One thing we did was take ribbon and tie it through a book with a slip-knot.  Then safety pin the ribbon to their carseat.  Then they had their book to read.  After our next stop the kids would swap books.  Having the book tied to the seat eliminated (or decreased the complaints) of “mommy I dropped it”.
    • Photography on the Move:  Let them take pictures of what you are driving by with a disposable or better yet, a digital camera (if you trust them with it)
    • Doctor on Call:  A Box of Bandaids and a rubbing alcohol pad.  Let them play “Dr”.  My preschoolers love the way the evaporation feels on their skin!  They can use it to disinfect their seats while they are playing.
    • “I spy” Jar: Make a jar of tiny treasures (paper clips, candy, hairbow, button, penny, ring, key, etc.).  Fill the jar with rice, wheat, dried lentils, whatever, and glue the lid onto the jar.  Have the kids find the items by turning the jar.
  • Balloon Challenge:  Give the kids balloons and see if they can blow them up themselves, or tape a punching balloon to the seat in front of them.  Let them swat or kick at the balloon – assuming it won’t irritate the person in that seat or harm the upholstery.  If you don’t want an inflated balloon, give the kids some crayons and a balloon.  See who can put the most crayons into their balloons.  Obviously if your children are to o young to play with balloons or the only adult in the car is driving, skip this one.
  • Bubbles?  Blow bubbles out the window or at the kids – you don’t want to do this too often as things can get sticky, but it is all washable – and it can double as bath/bubble wash that night at the hotel.  One less bottle to bring with you!
  • Goop (aka homemade silly putty):  Homemade putty is great for a non-residue playdough.  You can use it to create shapes, to stretch into snakes, to imprint the bottom of their sippy cups, whatever!  Be creative!
  • Personal Light Show:  Each kid has a flashlight {or got one in their cheap entertainment bag}.  The kind with different colored lights is best for the longest play.    A great way to entertain them once it is dark out – assuming you couldn’t get them to go to sleep.
  • Catalog “shopping”:  Toy magazines – these keep my kids entertained for hours.  You can even let them cut out pictures of the things they want and make a “wish list” collage with a couple glue sticks, if you are feeling adventurous.
  • Desperate times call for desperate measures:  DVD and a portable player for when you are desperate.
  • Other Random Games like “I spy”,  the alphabet game or license plates, etc.  This site has a list of a dozen or so.
Other tips : Kids Resources

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