How to Entertain Your Toddler on a Road Trip
We received a question from a reader, Janise, on taking a road trip with a toddler.
“We are making the 4-hour drive from Houston to Corpus Christi with our 2-year old daughter. What types of toys and activities should I bring in the car for such long drive with a toddler?”
Our panel of road-tripping Moms and Dads offers a whole host of suggestions for entertaining toddlers on long car rides!
Lara D says, For children who are closer to age 3, Wikki Stix are amazing! They are wax sticks that twist into all kinds of shapes. My kids still love them! I would also recommend the special coloring books that have one marker that turns areas of a page into different colors. Parents can also play games such as I Spy. Even toddlers love looking around for things.
Mary S suggests pop-up books, Play-Doh and Lego Duplo blocks (they even have some in Disney versions). Plus, the Melissa & Doug brand makes puzzles with chunky pieces and other portable toys.
Rachel S likes magnetic drawing boards for creative fun with few loose parts and no mess. Also, have a kid sing along mix ready. If you want to allow a little screen time, Toca House or Toca City are nice learning apps for that age.
Andrea L says, I’m big on quantity versus quality when traveling with toddlers. I used to create a treasure bag and would pull out something new as needed. Although I planned for one item for every 30 minutes of driving, I rarely needed that many. Dollar stores and bookstores are great places to buy items to fill up the treasure bag. Talking books are also really good at this age. The smallest things can keep a toddler’s interest.
Mary Ellen M loves to play kid’s music in the car. She remembers that when her children were younger, music wasalways a huge hit. Here are some of her favorites: Best Music For Kids – Top 5 Travel Albums.
Amy S also recommends music — Raffi CDs, plus anything new and exciting that they can’t swallow!
Eugene C suggests driving during nap time, early morning or evenings when the kids are most likely to sleep for part of the ride. He would keep driving and driving as long as the kids were sleeping or not complaining.
Robyn D remembers that her boys watched the Baby Einstein videos in the car when they were little. She also suggests finding a comfortable place to stop a little over halfway so you can get out of the car for 20 minutes of so, use the bathroom, stretch your legs, get a snack, etc.
Heather C creates “travel bags” for her daughters, and her girls also started travel journals at ages 3 and 4. At that age, the child can dictate memories for the parent (or an older sibling) to write and then add illustrations.
Amy G says her biggest tip is VARIETY. What works for the current 10 minutes might not work tomorrow or even in 30 minutes, so pack a variety of things. Our #1 thing that we bring is a portable DVD player. I always pick up a new DVD (for about $5 at Target or Walmart or even cheaper online at Amazon) as a surprise for the girls, in addition to bringing some favorites that we already have. We find that the best DVDs for our 2-year old are TV shows, as the episodes are short and they keep her attention far better than movies do.
The other big thing we bring is snacks and PLENTY of them. I bring a huge variety of easy snacks and a snack cup with lid or several sandwich-sized Ziploc bags. From fruit leather and fruit snacks to goldfish, veggie straws, grapes, pretzels, crackers, cheese sticks and mandarin oranges, I pack it (plus some). However, I don’t pack things that need adult assistance or a utensil to eat, like yogurt tubes or applesauce cups. For more suggestions, see 5 Healthy Snack Ideas for Traveling with Kids.
Do you have any other tips for taking a road trip with a toddler? Please share in the comments below!
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- Road Trip Tips from a Beginner
- Summer Vacation Travel Tips
- 4 Travel Apps to Find Kid-Friendly Spots on the Go
- Add Some Nature to Your Road Trip with Views, Rest Areas & Parks
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