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two kids in car enjoying toddler car trip activities

7 Toddler Car Trip Activities For Drama-Free Journeys

Posted in #toddlers

‘Are we there yet?’ Nothing disrupts the flow of your carefully planned family road trip like this chorus 10 minutes into the journey. Add in delays, car sickness, bored and irritable little ones and even the idea of a lengthy drive with the kids is enough to make you break into a sweat! Luckily, we have some ideas, hacks and toddler car activities to keep both children and parents happy on long car journeys.


Toddler Car Trip Activities 


1. Break Out The Audio Books

Want to know how to entertain a baby in a car? Try an audiobook. They’re inclusive – anyone can listen to them, no matter their age or reading skills. Plus, not only is the driver included but audio books also cater for passengers who get carsick if they try to read while on the move. 

Listening to an audiobook enables you to multitask too, which saves time and stress. To delight older babies and toddlers, try classics like the Tales of Beatrix Potter, the Grufffalo and Winnie the Pooh. 


2. Pack Some Mess-Free Activities

The best toddler car trip activities are portable, mess-free and without loads of little parts to lose (we’re looking at you, Lego). 

Try reusable window stickers, Fuzzy-Felt sets, triangular crayons that don’t roll away on a tray table, Color Wonder pens (which won't leave ink stains on your car’s upholstery) and magnetic board playsets.

If you’re super-organised, help them learn their letters. Bring a cookie sheet accessorized with magnetic letters and numbers. Give them spelling challenges or let their imaginations run wild!

A simple car toy will keep them entertained, too: we love the ​​Skip Hop Farmstand Avocado, featuring two halves that stick together with a surprise peek-a-boo rattle inside. Plus, it attaches to their seat so they can’t drop it on the floor.

baby plays with avocado car seat toy

3. Try Some Fun Travel Games

To pass a few minutes, have a go at some guessing games. Ask your toddler to guess the animal – you supply the animal noises – or guess which song you’re humming. 

The old classic 'I Spy' is a failsafe – younger toddlers can use colors if they’re not sure on their ABC yet.

Or set a timer and have a competition to see who can count the most cars, cows, trees … you get the idea.

Towards the end of your trip, play the rose, bud and thorn game (this is also a great family dinner conversation starter). Each member of the family takes turns to talk about a good (rose) and bad (thorn) thing that happened to them on the journey and then shares something they’d like to do more of or improve on (bud).


4. Have Some De-escalating Tricks Up Your Sleeve

Long car journeys can cause tempers to flare, particularly between siblings. If arguments break out, try some easy, mindful exercises. These ideas are a great way to distract as well as help calm everyone down by getting them to focus on the present. 

Try naming five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can smell, two things that you can taste and one thing you can touch. 

You could also encourage your grumpy tot to ‘blow out the candles on the birthday cake’. Ask them to take a deep breath, then slowly blow the air out through their mouths as if they were blowing out the candles on a cake. Or, get them to imagine they’re blowing up balloons (this works well for stressed-out parents, too – try it!)


5. Add In Some Screen Time

You may be strict about screen time at home, but relax a little for a long drive. To prevent back-seat rows, set up each child with their own tablet and preload them with age-appropriate movies, TV shows and games. 

Provide them with their own child-size headphones so you don’t get a headache from the dueling soundtracks. Don’t forget to charge them before you go, and ensure you can charge en route.

6. Plan For Frequent Stops

Little legs need to move! Stop at service stations along the way and let your little one out for a quick run or crawl around to burn off some of that pent-up energy. 

Make these stops as child-friendly and fun as possible and if ideally somewhere in nature. Encourage your child to complete a simple challenge, such as 'run to that tree and back five times' or 'see how many hops it takes to go around that post'.

This will keep them well occupied for 20 minutes or so and they’ll get back in the car tired out. Time it with their nap and you may even get some peace!


7. Bring More Snacks Than You’ll Think You’ll Need

By all means, bring some sweet treats, but to keep crankiness at bay take protein-packed snacks – and plenty of them. Protein will help keep your child fuller for longer and happier. 

Finding the perfect snack for kids on the road is an art. It’s got to be portable, not too messy, sticky or crumbly, healthy and something your kids will actually eat.

Try apples, bananas, protein bars, cheese and crackers, dry cereal, fruit sauce or yogurt pouches, popcorn, homemade cereal bars, homemade mini muffins and fruit leathers. 

These silicone snack cups by Mushie are a great way to prevent spillage and contain the mess.


two toddlers use mushie silicone snack cups



Finally, here are some toddler car trip essentials:

Pack the night before. 

Save time and energy by packing the car in advance. Try to use soft bags, which make it easier to squash more into the trunk and in between seats. Don’t forget your travel stroller!

Don’t forget your wipes 

Motion + food + toddlers + a confined space = mess. Snacks are essential for keeping boredom at bay or distracting siblings from rowing, but food can get messy. Wipes are perfect for cleaning sticky hands or mopping up a leaky drinks carton. They’re also ideal for cleaning up if your little one gets sick. 

Bring a plastic bag to stash your trash. Traveling with children creates lots of waste. Take a bag to control the mess! Plus, keep all your essentials with you in one space. Try the Babymel Eco Backpack for all your stuff, as well as diapers and wipes. 

Going further afield after your long drive? Read Travel Essentials for Kids: What You Really Need

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