Suitcases are packed. Car is loaded and the GPS is set. Let the summer travel and long car rides begin!
A lot of families use the time off from school to take vacations, explore new places and create lifelong memories. While traveling with little kids can be stressful, I have figured out some great toys and activities to have for long car rides to keep my daughter entertained when we have hours in a car ahead of us.
I know art and the car don’t usually go together. When I think about my daughter creating art, I think of messes, lots of wipes and extra laundry. But, there are some great mess-free art options that are perfect for the car. My daughter loves the water pens that you fill up with water and then “draw” on the books to expose fun pictures. We have several that have fun themes like animals and trucks and we also have educational ones with letters and numbers.
Another favorite art activity for the car is a set of Crayola mess-free markers and coloring pages. My daughter thinks she’s a “big kid” getting to use markers but I don’t have to worry about a mess since the markers only work on the special paper. Win-win for everyone! You can buy coloring sheets with all of your favorite characters (Mickey Mouse is a current favorite around here) or you can also buy special blank paper you can use to print your own pages. The possibilities are endless!
Seek and Find Books
A quick Amazon search will show you an endless list of seek-and-find books (or I Spy books for a nostalgic pick). These books keep my daughter entertained for hours while she flips through the pages looking for the pictures. Extra tip: these also make great distractions to take along to doctor appointments or restaurants when there’s lots of anticipated waiting!
I know you might be scratching your head on this one, am I really suggesting that you pack your giant magnetic tile collection into the car? Definitely not. But, there are some sets of mini tiles that are smaller in size but just as big in fun. Add a toaster oven-sized magnetic tray and you have an easy toy that will provide endless possibilities of fun building houses, towers and whatever else your child can imagine!
There are lots of options for busy books. There are ones you can print yourself, ones you can buy premade and my personal favorite, cloth ones that you can throw in the washing machine! My daughter spends time practicing tying shoes, matching shapes and dressing a cute little felt kid with different shirts and pants.
So snacks aren’t a toy I know, but they are such a necessity when traveling. For some reason, long stretches in the car make the little ones SO hungry! But, there are some ways you can turn the endless snacks into fun and games. Grab a tackle box (the clear boxes with tiny storage compartments) and fill each one with a different snack. You could also turn it into a game by putting the same snack in two compartments and creating a matching game of snacks.
Making vacation memories is a highlight of my year but the long car rides and hectic travel days definitely aren’t as fun, but with these easy activities packed in the car, my daughter stays entertained and happy for most of the trip!