27 answers

Travel Entertainment Ideas Needed

I am planning to make a car trip to visit family within the next few weeks, and I need some ideas to keep my 18 month old son entertained! This is a drive that takes around 8 hours without many stops; I anticipate 9 or 10 hours with breaks for my son to run around. My husband is not going with us, as he has to work. My son is in a forward-facing car seat, but obviously he'll be in the back seat all by himself. I can certainly talk to him and sing songs and play music, but beyond that, I'm stumped. He doesn't talk too much yet, so it's not like we can play typical "car games". Any ideas anyone has would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

The basket of toys in the front seat was the best advice ever! I loaded up a basket (we needed to take toys with us anyway, since we were gone for two weeks) and every so often, I handed him a new one-- it was like a brand new toy every time! To be fair, my son has a remarkable ability to look out the window and be fascinated by whatever he sees, so we spent a lot of time just looking-- pointing out trees, mountains, big trucks--- he loooooves big trucks. Also, we are a no-TV family, so I really wanted to avoid the DVD thing, and toys seemed to be enough. Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful advice!!

Featured Answers

I would suggest a portable DVD player. We usually have to take a 10-11hr to Ohio every year and that came in handy.

More Answers

We have five children and make two trips a year to Florida, to see all our family! While we do have a tv in the car, I also bring a backpack full of toys. I just wouldn't let your son have all of them at once, trade them every hour or two to keep them fresh and interesting. Also, buy some snack size zip bags and put different snacks in them, you can pass the bag to him easily and he can hold it because those bags are smaller. I just went to the Dollar Tree and they have a bunch of books in because of Easter, they are the hard cardboard type books, my Dollar Tree had Dragon Tales and Target has Sesame Street books for a dollar also right now (it's in their little dollar section up front). I personally stocked up for Easter but you could buy some new books and keep them from him till the trip. I wish you the best! Have a fun & safe trip!

1 mom found this helpful

Hey! I have 20 month old and we are always making trips to Ohio from Virginia. I got him a Little Doodle Pro from Fisher Price. He can draw all he wants and it keeps him busy for hours. I only stoped one time so Andrew could get out. But for the most part he slept the whole ride.


1 mom found this helpful

Hi, We've done many long trips with the kids, with and without the DVD player. My kids get tired of watching movies and want to do things so it's only good for a little while. The best advice I was given and use all the time is to get a basket that will fit in your passenger seat. Have one area that you can pack in different snacking stuff so you can open it without spilling and hand back a few at a time. Also, bring a bunch of toys that your son loves and get him some new ones. Put all those in the basket (with drinks also) and start with the old toys, then give him a new one when he gets bored, then use more old ones, then another new one. The new one will break the boredom barriers as well as quell any whining. The old ones are more for comfort since his surroundings will be changing. He'll want those when you get there as well. Last, but not least, bring books! My kids love to sit and read or look through books. My son is only 14 months old and he'll sit and look at a book in the car for 10-20 minutes. These can also go in your basket. I use the basket everytime I don't have someone in the car to help hand things around. I make sure I tell the kids that I can't jump around in the car to pick things up so if they throw them or drop them they are gone until we can stop again. They know to hang on to them to trade them for other items now.
Good snacking items are nuts, marshmellows, fruit snacks, small crackers (less mess), dried fruit, basically things that won't melt and I always pack a case of water bottles. They can get warm and not go bad and you can always stop at a gas station and get a cup of ice for much less than a water bottle (usually, not always).
Hope that helps and have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there,
We have Madeline (10 monther)and Gracie (3 year old). We have relatives that live on either end of California, so we do a 10 hour drive. Is there anyway you can leave in the wee hours of the morning? We leave around 300 or 330AM and by the time the kids are awake 1/2 the trip is over plus there is no traffic on the road, it makes for a nice quite time. When the kiddos wake up, we stop by IHOP for some fun food and let Grace run around, then back on the road for another 4 or 5 hours (with some pit stops at rest areas to let her explore). it seems like the car puts the kids to sleep. I would sing songs as well, get a kids CD (dan zanes is great, and good listening for you too!) But for us the key is leaving as early as possible. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

If he takes a regular nap try to plan it around sleep time. We just moved from VA to OK normally a 20 hour drive. We did it in 3 days but they slept alot of it.

A portable DVD player is exactly what you need. Then check out a few dvds from the library that he's never seen before for surprises on the road. We did the drive to Disney this past summer and I also packed a bag of surprises from the dollar store. He particularly had fun with a sticker book, something about peeling the stickers on and off was very entertaining, and little flashlights, if you're going to be driving at night.
Have fun!

We travel to NC to visit my grandmother once a year and it is also an 8 hour ride. We usually leave late in the afternoon around 4. When we stop for dinner, I will change diapers and put on their PJ's so when we get to our destination and they are asleep I can lay them down in bed. We have also traveled during the day some on vacation and we purchased a portable DVD player that attaches to the headrest for them to watch. We bought ours at Target. It came with 2 screens. My daugthers love to watch movies. We also take toys, snacks and a Magna Doodle for them to write on.

Hi R.,

Portable DVD players are great (as other posters have said). I drive Charlotte to Boston twice a year with my kids (18+ hours each way without many stops). I take a few of their favorite DVD's and a few new ones. I take a few small snack cups that I can fill with some of their favorite snacks. Also, a small MagnaDoodle (my kids call it a "write-write") to draw on without getting into trouble. I go back and forth between music and videos. The variety seems to help. Also, I have a DVD player (I just got a new one from Target.com) that has a separate player unit -- it's not attached to the screen. I put the player where I can reach it without getting out of the car and can control it from the driver's seat. WHen we stop, I don't let the kids run around too much, because then they don't want to get back into their seats. Sometimes I use stops to go to a Target or WalMart to let them pick out something new to play with in the car. I also readjust their seat (recline to straight up) every so often so that it changes their pressure points. Make sure you have a "kid mirror" so you can see him and talk to him and he can see you...it helps a lot.

Good luck!!

Maybe burn a CD of his favorite disney songs... walmart.com lets you download for .99 each and then you can burn a copy. Also, what about a bucket of toys beside him so that he can have a variety... maybe even a portable DVD player, if you don't have one see if a friend will let you borrow one! They make them that hook onto the back of your headrest with a little strap!! We even use the laptop sometimes, but our 8 year old's in the back w/ our little guy...

good luck!!! I'm going to read your tips from other moms! Im going on some trips this summer!!!

My husband and I bought a DVD player for our vehicle. It works wonders for those long trips! We bought ours at Walmart and it was just under $200...but worth every penny.

Hey R.,

Car trips with kids are never really fun. I, like you, am 33 - I've been married for six years as well, am a SAHM with an 18 month old, but I also have a 4 year old and a 3 year old. We travel to WI from NC (a 16 hr ride) when we go home to visit our families. The best thing we do is travel at night - that way they are asleep for as much of it as possible. The other thing that has made things easier is a portable DVD player. I usually let them pick out one new movie and then they each get to pick their favorites from home to bring along. When they are this young, it's just easier to play a Dora DVD then to try and entertain them on you own especially when you are by yourself. I wish you luck - hopefully it will go well. Oh, make sure your son's car seat is as comfortable as possible - buy one of those cushions if you don't have one already. And if all else fails and he gets real crabby and inconsolable, have a set of headphones and an ipod or radio or CD player along. A little music going right into their little ears works wonders - just be sure it's not too loud....

hey R., you might want to invest in portable dvd player and stock up on whatever cartoon he likes to watch, ie..barney, doodle bops. it keep his attention for a while then probally fall asleep, also you may want to look into the cd's of children songs. my daughter was that age when we drove to maryland from miami and it helped.good luck..

I agree with the portable DVD player too. We use ours when we go home (from SC to northern IN) and when I have to drive to TN to meet my daughter's father for his visitation. It is a life saver that is for sure!! A nice one to get is on that straps on to the head rest and plugs into the cig liter, it is very easy to put it in the car. Our daughter also wears head phones so we can still listen to the radio but I don't think that would be good for your little guy just yet. I also pack a small backpack for her with books, small games, crayons and coloring books and snacks. Keep it in easy reach so you can just hand stuff back to him. He'll propably cat nap a lot too so that will help!!

Happy driving and have a safe trip!!


Portable dvd player. The only way to travel long distances with a child. Target has a cheap dvd case that has straps to connect it to the back of the front seat. When we traveled to Arizona it was a life saver! Grab a few of his favorite dvds and your good to go. Oh coloring books and crayons are great too! Have a safe trip!


When my daughter was 18 mos. old we took her on a 6 hr. plane ride. It is tough for you because you are going to be driving and not able to help him get to things. I would recommend a protable DVD player that he can watch in the car with some of his favorite videos. If you don't have one it is the greatest investment for some of those long car rides. I would also recommend the travel size magna doodle. Our daughter loves it and it isn't messy. Our daughter had this sorting toy with shapes it was fabric and soft so she couldn't get hurt with it that kept her busy in the car. Also I recommend getting some new books that he hasn't seen before along with some of his favorites. That should keep him entertained for a little while anyway. Good Luck


When my son was that age we travled to philadelphia frequently. We have a dvd player in the car-i know that you can get one really cheap that sits on the back of the seat. Also a stack of books that you can put next to him can be entertaining -once he realizes that this is it for entertainment. i think it will be easier then you think...also you can talk about what you are seeing on the side of the road...plus we just sang along to music...well i did -my boy didn't talk at 18 monthes...it will be much better then you think-i think you will be plesantly surprised.

DVD players are great! he may not have any favorite movies just yet, but just having something playing captures their attention. we take 11 hour drives upto NY and my daughter is 23 moths old and we have been doing it since she was 6 months old.

It depends on what time are u leaving. I travel alot at night so the kids can sleep. You could get a DVD player and put his favorite movie in.

Portable dvd player, books, and tons of toys. We leave at night, that way our son sleeps most of the way. Hopefully, your son will sleep most of the way for you!

Hello R.,
Long trips...I take many a year to visit my family and hubby's family. I usually go alone with all 3 of my children, I wish I only had 1 to entertain!! LOL The best thing I figured out is I leave at like 4am. I know it's early but my kids will usually stay up for about the first 2 hours and then sleep the next 3 hours. My favorite entertainment for y children is the DVD player. I love it and it keeps them quiet for a bit. Also, bring plenty of finger foods. They also love their kids music. You can sing along with him and keep him busy. I hope some of this helped. Good luck and it's really not that bad!!! LOL Enjoy your trip :-)

Here is the best advice that I can give, get a portable DVD player!!! We bought one for our son, and it was the best 200.00 we ever spent! It comes in a case with strips so you can just hook it on the back of the driver and passenger seat and you're good to go!! And that way, he can watch his Einstein or Elmo or whatever he is into. We got our from Wal-Mart, and it's been our lifesaver on car trips!!
One word of advice, since I've had that thing, I know every Elmo movie ever made word for word!! ;-)

Hope this helps, and have a very safe drive,

I would suggest the portable DVD player also. It was a great investment for us. We got the player with the 2 monitors that you can attach and detach from the headrest. I have 2 girls so that way they each can watch a monitor. Also little portable games, books and sing along songs because watching the DVD player can get boring. Also pack little goodies in sandwich bags with boxed drinks to make the trip easier.

Why dont u buy a portable dvd player that u can attach to the seat? Buy him some new movies this way he will be interested in watching and wont complain. This will also tire him out so he will nap in between for u...good luck!

Give yourself more than just an hour or two extra.

My son (2 in a couple of weeks) is in love with Cars. He rarely sits still for anything, but he will for that movie. I've heard other parents say the same thing about it. Also try to schedule your trip over nap time.

You can buy a DVD player for around $100 that can go in the car- that will take up at least a few hours if he'll stay entertained watching movies.

I would suggest a portable DVD player. We usually have to take a 10-11hr to Ohio every year and that came in handy.

I hate to recommend it b/c we avoided them until my daughter was 2 and now she's addicted but what about a portable DVD player with DVDs? We made a 10 hour drive for Thanksgiving and thanks to the Wiggles and Dora, everyone maintained their good moods and sanity. Other than that, I have no suggestions because we always avoided the issue by driving all night (which I wouldn't recommend without your husband).

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.