We just arrived home from our week long vacation. We’re still settling in and getting back into our routine, but I wanted to share how Little T survived the 14+ hours we spent traveling in our car.

I’d spent a long time searching for strategies and suggestions online. I found a few good ideas, like the Car Ride Bingo, but most of them I just recycled from my days teaching kindergarten. I hope this helps for any soon to be tiny travelers~

The first thing I did, was grab a bunch of big envelopes from the garage. These are pretty cheap to purchase if you don’t have any on hand. Toddlers have short attention spans, so I made ten envelopes filled with different games, then stored them all in this Sprouts bag so I could easily grab a folder during the car ride. I know it isn’t pretty, but I’m busy and wanted them to be functional and easy, so I used a giant sharpee and wrote the names of the games in big letters on the top of the envelope. This made it easy breezy to sort through them.

Road Trips and Car Rides with Toddlers

Each envelope had a different activity that were a mix of things for different moods and temperaments. If he was calm, we’d read him a book, if he was hyper we’d pull out the manipulatives, etc. Here’s the game list:

1. Car Bingo
2. Doctor
3. Magazine game
4. Books
5. New Movie (5$ Elmo alphabet movie from Target)
6. Find the colors
7. Guess the letter
8. Manipulatives
9. Map

And here’s a run down of the games:

Group Games:

1. Car Bingo:make a bingo sheet and search for the cars you see on the road.

2. Guess the letter: Write the letters A, B, and C on flash cards. Fold them in half and place them in the envelope. When it’s time to play, pull a folded card out of the envelope and have everyone guess which letter it is. The person who is right, wins.

Keep those hands busy games:

1. Find the color: twist up a bunch of colored pipe cleaners. Give it to them, and ask them to give you a certain color. They will tune up their fine motor skills as the have to twist and turn the pipe cleaners to get the right color out.

Road Trips and Car Rides with Toddlers

We’ve been collecting cheap little things to keep his hands busy in the car. We have to supervise when he plays with these, but Little T loves it when we pull one out. In our bag we have bubble wrap for him to pop (need adult next to him for this), a twisty man, a little fan, a squishy baseball, party blowers, bird whistle, a rhino balloon, harmonica, and a few other things for him to play with.

Road Trips and Car Rides with Toddlers

More Mellow Activities:

1) Doctor: I grabbed some coloring pages and told Little T that we were going to play doctor. We had him clean off Belle with a dry towel or tissue, then pretend to put medicine on her with a q-tip, then put on a band aide. This was one of his favorite games.

Road Trips and Car Rides with Toddlers

2) Magazine: Use a kids magazine and go through it ahead of time. Make a list of things for your toddler to find as they go through the magazine. Tell them what they need to find, and once they have found it move on to the next object. To simplify this, I wrote the list on the folder with a sharpee.

Road Trips and Car Rides with Toddlers

Map: Print out a google road map with directions to where you are going. Circle towns that you will go through, and mark it with stickers as you pass through the town. I taped the map to the outside of the folder.

Road Trips and Car Rides with Toddlers

When you need a break:

1) New Movie: we have a DVD player that we use for wind down and quiet time. Purchase a 5$ movie or borrow one from a friend. We bought Elmo’s alphabet jungle. We also have a few favorites on hand, but this was a nice short movie to pull out and surprise him with.

2) A New Book: We mingled a few new 1$ books we found, along with some of his favorites. I bought some really simple books and read him the story, then I had him “read” the story back to me. We also just let him look through the books.

The other thing we did was pack a travel snack box. When he was hungry, he loved being able to choose what he wanted from this box. We threw in Kind Bars, apple sauce, oranges, instant oatmeal (we stop and get hot water from the gas station to make this when we travel) apple juice, and fruit bars.

Road Trips and Car Rides with Toddlers

I think the most important thing to remember is that kids have short attention spans. Little T loved all these games, but we switched around a lot. We also adapted the games a to make them a little different on the way back. Overall though, they were a really big success and didn’t take up a lot of space in the car. He started asking to play games first thing when we got in the car, so I think he really enjoyed it. We’re going to keep some in the car for good.

Happy car traveling friends. Let me know if you have any travel ideas that you think Little T would also like. We’re taking another long trip this summer and have a plane (ack) trip coming up. Definitely open to ideas. 🙂