This week’s reader request is focusing on ideas for traveling with toddlers on road trips. I am focusing on tips this week for longer road trips that don’t involve screen time, because coming up with ideas that don’t involve screens seems to be more challenging than searching the app store, am I right!?! Honestly, these tips can apply to any younger child in the car, all you have to do is change out the toys for things more suitable for the child’s age! And, as always, if you have an organizational or kid-related questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, email or, message me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!
When traveling with littles in the car, it is in your best interest to plan a few “run and be loud” breaks. When we go on family road trips, I always try to find good places where the kids can run/crawl around and get some energy out! We try to stop at places with lots of open areas, play lands, and kid-friendly places. We will look at our route and find places to stop along with way, usually about every two hours. Since my kids don’t really sleep in the car, trying to get them to nap is just not going to happen, so we like to make sure they have time to get their energy out! But when we are in the car, I like to be prepared.
Along with all of the necessities you need when going on a road trip, you also need to pack “stuff” to keep the kids busy for the drive. I found that we ran out of room quickly when we were packing up the car for our first road trip with two little ones. As I was looking for space, I decided to clip a backpack full of activities to the back of the passenger seat. This was an easy way to store toys for the kids and left us room on the floor for other items we needed to pack. I have also seen large crates holding all the kids toys in the middle of the car seats/booster seats. If the dog didn’t sit between my two kiddos, we would have done this as well!
When both kids are in a car seat, having large trays to lay on their laps for activities can make a huge difference in keeping them occupied for a long drive. I have seen many different trays ranging from cheap, dollar store cooking trays to store-bought fancy trays. Whatever tray makes you happy, then my suggestion is to go for it! We use the trays I had purchased a while ago from Oriental Trading Company. Each kid gets a different color tray that they can do their own activities on. I store the tray in the backpack I attached to the back of the passenger seat, along with activities to do on the trays.
So what do you put into the backpack to keep the kiddos busy throughout a long car ride? Well pretty much anything they want to bring! We pack Play-Doh, crayons, markers, paper, Duplos/Legos, books, puzzles, color matching games, some of my On-The-Go activity kits, I Spy kits, and cars/trucks.
Most of the activities can be done on the trays, so the kids can keep busy with the different activities. Some other activities that look amazing include:
Portable Lego Kit via Mamma. Pappa. Bubba.
DIY I Spy via Say Yes
Tic Tac Toe via Hello Bee
Magnetic Pattern Books via Say Yes
Portable Activitiy Kit via Mamma. Pappa. Bubba.
Cozy Car Caddy via Homemade By Jill
Pocket Fishing Game via Doodle Craft
4. Car Games
Image via Picklebums
When we last traveled, we didn’t do many car games. I have tried to teach the kiddos I Spy and Bingo, but they are more interested in other things like smashing things into Play-Doh or throwing things around the car. But next time we take a long road trip, I am going to make sure to print off these adorable, free printables to keep the kids occupied as we are driving!
Road Trip Activity Pack via Playdough to Plato
The biggest necessity to have while taking a long road trip is food. Not only do you need fruit and other healthy food, but you also need snacky food because, well, it’s a road trip! When we go on road trips, I pack a small cooler with fresh fruit for the kids to nosh on while we are driving. I always make sure to cut up the fruit into bit-size pieces so I don’t have to try to cut the fruit as we are driving. I also try to buy individual bags of snacky foods so each child can have their own. And I fill up the snack cups with something crunchy. My kids love apple sauce, so I will get a few pouches they can suck on as we are driving. String cheese, crackers, pretzels, graham crackers, cheesey bunnies, veggie straws, baby Mum Mums, and breakfast bars were all a must for our road trips. I also packed every person a water bottle that were filled with ice and water. And, since my kids love their milk, I had a small cooler that were filled with sippy cups for their milk.
To keep the kids on their schedule, I made sure to plan our road trip around specific things that we would do on a typical day. For example, I would give the kids their milk as we were driving, but it would be around the time I would typically give them their milk without us being in a car. Now, if they would nap in the car, I would make sure to start driving with enough time for them to fall asleep before our planned stop. By keeping to a familiar schedule, you are less likely going to be “off schedule” once you arrive at your destination!
By keeping yourself organized and planning lots of stops, you can get through a road trip with toddlers! Just make sure you allow for storing car activities, pack car activities including a tray, pack lots of food, and try to stay on a semi-schedule. By sticking with these tips, your next road trip should be a breeze!