27 answers

Activities for a LOOOOONG Car Ride.....

hey ladies...

This summer my husband and I are driving to WI to visit family. We have an almost 2 year old and a 7 month old. Does anyone have any ideas for keeping them entertained (besides the dvd thing) along the way. Any ideas would be helpful. Thank you so much!!!

1 mom found this helpful

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Thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas! You are all such a great resource and I appreciate it so much. You have given me a plethora of ideas to use on the trip. I am sure it will be a success....hopefully the first of many successful roadtrips. Thank you, thank you, and again, thank you!!!!!!

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As a mother of three who just moved from MN, I can completely understand your situation. It is a long drive and you will most likely get tired no matter what you bring. But its okay, seeing family and taking a trip is worth it.

Since your kids are young, it will be hard to completely keep them entertained. Kids that age don't do a lot by themselves. But you know what your 2 year old is capable of doing. If he likes to draw, then a magnadoodle-type toy would be great, especially if the writing utensil is attached. (My kids always seemed to drop their crayons, chalk, etc.) For lots of ideas for travel games you can visit www.nickjr.com; they have a section on car travel activities and you can sort by age.

A big help for my family on our long trips was making sure to get the kids out at the travel plazas, unless they were sleeping of course. But otherwise, we always got them out of their car seats and had "wiggle" time. We would play games like "run from that tree to the building", Race Daddy to the door or Follow the Leader. It takes extra time, but helps a lot.

We also brought a shoe box full of activities that could be played without a parent watching. Like Little People, Duplo Legos, McD's Toddler Toys, etc. We made sure to only bring out one new thing at a time and space them out throughout the journey. The trip is 18 hours of driving, you add in stops and hotel time it can get to be 30 hrs before you're done.

If you have a large enough vehicle, you could schedule time for a parent to sit by the kids. With a parent right there, my kids didn't need toys because we would see things out the window and talk about the trip. With both you and your husband, you could take turns driving, take turns with the kids, and have parent talk time. (No doubt this trip could be quality time for you and your husband too.)

Since this is a family trip, I would suggest finding pictures of who you will be seeing on the trip and putting an album together. Any way that you can prepare your kids for the faces they will see, may help once you arrive.

Car friendly snacks are good. I set out what was okay while moving and what was "only when we stopped" food. I had a cooler with: apple slices in ziploc bags with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from going brown, baby carrots, juice/flavored water bags with straws, cans of soda pop for parents, sandwich supplies, etc. I also had dry foods like crackers, bananas, pretzels, and peanut butter with disposable spoons. You could also hard boil some eggs if your son likes those. There are plenty of options.

I made sure to bring the diaper bag plus a box in the car to refill the diaper bag as needed. Plus the pack and play for at the hotel, and an overnight bag just for the travel time so you don't have to unload all your vacation stuff just for one night.

You will want to plan ahead too about overnight options. When we made the journey the first time, our kids slept so much in the car we knew if we stopped at a hotel they wouldn't sleep much so we opted to drive as much as we could as far as we could. The second time we made the journey, we planned when to stop and made sure to keep the kids awake the last number of hours prior to our stop for the night.

This is becoming a novel. If you would appreciate more thoughts or if you have questions, please send me a message. I hope you have a great trip.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi H.... there is a great website called momsminivan.com
that has alot of car ride activities.

Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful

Hmm, I love the CD and Books on CD idea. If you feel comfortable that you wouldn't lose them you could even borrow them from the library. My kids love the John Lithgow books that come with CD's Marsupial Sue is one.
I love Elizabeth Mitchell Cd's for music, and Raffi is always good. I always bring some lullaby music too, just be careful it doesn't relax the driver too much.
When my kids were 2 they loved stickers. I could hand them a sheet and they would stick them all over themselves and the carseat. The quiet was worth me having to pick up all the stickers later.
Along those lines we have boughten books that come with magnets that you can add to the pages in the story. The ones with really chunky magnets are nice.
Here's another idea. you could give your son a cookie sheet and let him stick magnets on it. Maybe even put magnetic backing on photos of family members to stick on the cookie sheet. The cookie sheet can double as a lapdesk for coloring and if it has a rimmed edge like a jelly roll pan it will help him to catch his crayons.
I always went to the dollar store and bought little things, one or two for the drive to and a few more for the drive back home. I would wrap them in tissue paper and hand them out at certain times. I remember my little boy being quiet for a half hour when i gave him his first pez dispenser that was shaped like a Semi truck.
Blank note pads and markers some times keep them busy even if it's only one little mark per page.
If you are traveling at night but they aren't sleeping, little penlight flashlights might be fun.
could you arrange to Have Grandma or someone available that the kids could chat with on a cell phone if your plan allows?
I'm out of ideas, I view it as, I would do anything to keep sane on long trips like that, so be as prepared as you can and bend the rules alot. Snacks were always our last resort and i would pack a ton.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

We have a bunch of Cds with kids songs, the typical nursery rhyme type songs and others that you would hear in school. My kids love it, doesn't matter if we're going to the store or on a long trip they always ask to put it in and I find myself singing along. I get some now and start playing them in the car so that by the time you go on vaca you all (or at least your oldest) will be able to sing along. The particular one we have came in a pack of 4 cds and I've seen them at Walmart in the toy aisle, they are different colored fronts and are called Kids Songs. Also another thing my kids love are books on CD, my oldest can follow only with the book, but I don't even bother with the books. I pop in a CD and they listen to the store and love and they each take turns picking one. The ones we have are from the weekly reader packs that I actually got from a relative who ordered it from QVC. I would think you would be able to find them at any book store or maybe they sell them on the QVC website. Definitely pack some snacks maybe something special that they don't always get to keep them upbeat. Also for your oldest, the color wonder books are great, my kids go through them like crazy! If you haven't seen them, they are everywhere, but its a coloring book and you get the markers that are actually white, but they show up as different colors only that particular paper and will not write on anything else! They have packs you can get that come with the markers or you can buy separate, there is plain paper to just draw or character coloring books! Person who invented this was genius! The only other thing I can think of the my kids love all the time but is also great in the car are those magnadoodle things, the board with the magnet pen that writes on the board adn there are usually stampers that come with it. Again they sell those anywhere! My duaghters favorite car game is "I spy", I will say to her I spy a red car or whatever (letters, colors, shapes, trucks things along the road) and she has to look for it! And if we're taking certain exits or routes, I'll have her "help'me look for the sign with that number or name! She begs me to play that game all the time!

Good luck and have a great vacation! J.

P.S. if you get any other new toys other than the CDs I would suggest wrapping them or in a gift bag and don't show the kids until you're in the car so its extra special and new! Keep them oocupied for much longer!

1 mom found this helpful

Hello! My son just turned 4, and we have driven to Florida two times already.
My advice:
-- take lots of toys and books with you, and don't show all that you brought right away. Keep some for surprises.
-- bring interactive toys such as we had a Melissa and Doug puzzle with doors/locks, etc. to keep little hands busy. Also - sticker books!
-- be flexible with stopping and getting out for small bouts of exercise (running at a rest stop!) or for fresh air - you most likely will have to stop more than you want to.
-- consider some smaller tourist stops (we stopped to go on a train and stayed overnight there, etc.)
-- sing and be silly - look for cows and colors of cars...
-- hold off on the DVD as long as possible so you're not watching it for 10 hours!
-- have lots of patience.
We had fun both times - and enjoyed having such enclosed family time together. The last few hours of the drive are the hardest...but if you hold off on the DVD, sometimes that helps!
Good luck and have fun.

1 mom found this helpful


I don't think this would work for the 7 month old but my two year old loves Model Magic. I take it on long car rides or flights. It is not messy and they can shape it for long periods of time. I take it out of the original package and store it in a baggie and then they can take it out and play and then put it back in and save it for later to play again.

I love the suggestions other responders have given!
Your kids are so young, but it's nice to get them used to the extra bonding that goes on on long car rides. When my kids were that little, perhaps the longest ride we took was about 4 hrs, but we did it often. Since then we've taken longer rides, up to 8 hrs., still not as long as what you'll be doing. Two summers ago my son said he was so glad we hadn't flown because on a plane we can't all sing together and we don't get the time to talk the same way. That felt great!

My kids never complain about the rides we take...and all summer we are driving on the weekends to see family, 2 hrs here, 4 hrs there, etc...and then our vacation, which can be 6-8 hrs of driving each way. They look forward to the word games or singing games we do, listening to good music, etc. When my daughter was 3 or so she and my husband made up a lot of silly driving games, and she now is 12 and we still do them!! It's a hoot!

Have a safe trip!

For our vacation car trips, each of our kids (7, 5, 2) has their own Doodle Pro (I think another name for it is Magna Doodle). The magnetic pens are attached so they can't drop them and lose them, and my 2 yr old loves to scribble and finally learned how to use the "eraser". If this doesn't work out, there's always the dreaded nursery rhyme sing-a-long. Have fun!

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