5 Easy Road Trip Activities for Toddlers
Taking a long road trip with children can be fun but exhausting! My husband, Ryan, and I have two toddlers, and we travel across the Midwest 2-3 times each year. Our main road trip is to Kansas to visit my husband's family. It's an 8+ hour trip (well, more like 10-12 hours with stops!) We've gotten to test out many different activities on the road. What I've discovered, through trial and error, is that simple is better! It can be especially tricky with toddlers because they don't fully grasp why they're stuck in a car seat for hours. They know we are going on a trip, but they don't understand the concept of time yet.
If you have a long trip ahead with your kiddos, check out my 5 suggestions. These activities will help keep everyone happy in the car!
1. Audio books and Playaway View
Before kids, my husband and I would listen to audio books during a road trip. I wasn't even aware that they made audio books for children until I overheard someone mention it in a local parenting group. On our most recent road trip, I checked out 3 audio books from the library. The three we selected were Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?, Where the Wild Things Are, and Good Night, Good Night Construction Site. The boys loved listening to the words!
Our local library also carries a little electronic device called the Playaway View. It reads books aloud, with pictures from the book on the screen. I only checked out one, so it required the boys to share. They (mostly) did fine, and it allowed them to practice some cooperation skills too.
2. Water Wow
My sister-in-law introduced us to the Water Wow painting books and my 2.5 year old loves them. The book comes with a little pen that fills up with water. The kids use the water-filled pen to "paint" the pictures inside the book. It turns the colorless picture into a colorful picture. My 2.5 year old painted for 20+ minutes in the car. My 20 month old played a little less with this, but still tried it out, and liked looking at the pictures!
3. Colorful Water Bottles
This is so simple! Take 2 empty water bottles, fill them with water, add a drop of food coloring, and a little dish soap. I didn't even need to add any other items to the bottle (beads, glitter, etc) although you could! The boys were happy with a little color and bubbles. They could shake the bottles, turn them upside down, and trade colors back and forth.
Please make sure to glue the cap on tightly, so that little fingers can't get it off and put it in their mouth (or dump water all over the seat!)
Both my boys love getting stickers at the doctors office, so I thought we'd try playing with stickers in the car. On a recent road trip, I brought along 2 sheets of stickers per toddler. I keep the sheets upfront. Whoever is in the passenger seat hands the stickers back, one at a time. The boys stick them onto a piece of paper, and create their own design. This is a nice quiet activity!
5. Memory Cards (and Music!)
On a whim, I stuck a pack of dinosaur memory cards into my bag before our last road trip. I wasn't sure if this activity would work, or if I'd end up with a big pile of cards in my backseat. My 2.5 year old loved it! He looked at the pictures of the dinosaurs, and also practiced putting all the cards back into the box, so it turned out to be a good motor activity.
My 20 month old wasn't as interested in the cards, but he did love using the musical shakers! We brought some CD's (specifically Ziggy Marley's Family Time) from the library, and he shook his shakers to the beat. Only do this activity if you don't mind a bit of noise coming from the backseat!
The Road Awaits...
The best thing about these activities is they all fit into one small bag! When you're on a trip with children, your hands are already full, so the less you have to manage, the better. So go ahead; pack your bags, plot out a few places to stop, stretch, run, and play (parks, malls, rest stops with grassy areas), and hit the road. Traveling with children may be hectic and a bit stressful, but hopefully these 5 ideas will help. Your destination will be worth it!