Traveling by car with children can be fun. Of course, it can also be boring for kids… which can in turn be frustrating or even dangerous for parents who are trying to focus on the road.
We just recently returned from a 6-hour (each way) road trip with four adults and two children. Here are 10 ideas which have worked to help keep my children occupied and my husband and I sane (and safe while driving!):
#1 – Wikki Stix! These things are the best $5 I’ve ever spent on a car trip. Similar to pipe cleaners in the awesomeness of range of motion and creativity – they are even more awesomely lacking in the one thing that makes pipe cleaners less-than-perfect: the sharp pointy eye-poking metal end pieces! Kids can make sculptures, wrap things up, and just play freely. They seem to be pretty much endlessly reusable as well. Creative play, no trash, no clean up… what could be better? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing.
#2 – Paper & a Pen. Quizzes, mazes, games, writing, drawing, folding, ripping… not sure much can beat the old paper & a pen for variety. But how to use them while confined to the carseat? Daddy came up with a great idea! Buy 2 clip boards, clip a note pad to each, then apply Velcro to the top of a pen (and secure with a zip-tie), and the other side of the Velcro to the top of the clip board and… voila! Instant flat drawing space, easy to pass around the car, & no lost pen. If you have younger kids (mine are 3 & just about 6), you can do the same with a crayon or washable marker.
#3 – Silly Bandz. Okay, okay. I even wrote a post about these. But really, on a car trip, they can be the best. Not only are they lightweight, and conveniently small, they can be wrapped efficiently and decoratively around things other than wrists – thing like: trucks, shoes, and dinosaurs. Busy hands are happy hands, I say!
#4 – Books. (Books, and more books!) Books with flaps, with stickers, with activities. I Spy books are fantastic, come in differing levels, and even my 3 year old can do them without assistance. The old standby Where’s Waldo is always popular. There are maze books, math books, word game books (like word find or fill in the missing letter or rearrange the letters to form words), dot-to-dot books, and of course good old coloring books! And, for the independent reader, a few brand-new stories or books makes a fun treat.