Road trip season is now in full swing. Here are ten more essential tips to keep your toddler occupied on a long drive.
It’s time to hit the open road! Go! Explore! Bring your family. The only thing worse than a crying baby on a plane may be a crying toddler in a car. Have no fear! These 10 activities will keep your toddler occupied as you log hundreds of miles on the road.
Moving Right Along String
Before you head out on the road, spend some time crafting. Print out pictures of landmarks (buildings, towns, etc.) that you’ll see on your trip. Tape them to a string that big enough to string across the width of your vehicle, at intervals appropriate to the distance between the sites in correspondence with mileage or time. Use a clothes pin with a picture of your vehicle attached to it to signify how far you’ve gone, updating when you pass a landmark.
An Etch-a-Sketch, Magna-Doodle and magnet boards are all great play pieces that don’t make a lot of noise, inspire creative play, and have relatively endless creative possibilities.
These bargain bin spontaneous purchases will come in handy on any road trip. Made of pliable fabric, the pieces easily squish to store in a plastic bag. Plus, if your child wants you to play along, finger puppets are easier than trying to have a dinosaur battle in the car. They’re also a great excuse to leave the bigger character toys at home.
How many times have you looked for Waldo? Between “I Spy”-style books and pop-up interactive books, kids can occupy their time learning no matter what their reading level. Remember those peel and stick static cling activity books? Those are great too!
Don’t play the DVD player every time you get in the car. Getting your child used to having the device only for longer trips will help them learn how to sit still and enjoy the sights of being on the road during a short trip. To make DVD time more special, allow your child to search the bargain bin at your local big box store for a cheap addition to their collection before every long trip.
Forget crayons, which can melt in the car, and markers, which can color every fabric or leather surface in sight. Instead, pack Crayola Twistables, a colored pencil/crayon combination that is durable, easy to control and doesn’t destroy clothing with color. Bring a variety of coloring books to choose from.
Whether it’s learning games, book reading, or show watching, tablets can be great to keeping kids occupied. Remember to pack those chargers!
Pinterest is full of ways to occupy your toddler with crafts that won’t create a mess. Look for crafts that may require one parent to buckle up in the back seat but won’t require glue, like pipe cleaner animals or making a felt board.
Find an old digital camera you have sitting in a drawer somewhere and turn it over to your toddler for them to use to document your trip. They’ll love snapping away and you’ll love that they won’t be taking up all your camera’s storage. Plus, let’s be honest, kids do take some pretty funny photos.
Magnifying Glass Kit
Head to your local dollar store ahead of time and pick up a pencil bag with at least one see-through side and a magnifying glass. Fill the bag with cheap trinkets and pieces that would look interesting up close to a child (buttons, a feather, Velcro, a penny, a small rock, etc.). Encourage your child to examine the objects up close without opening the bag.