Hello there! And happy Thursday! The holidays will be here before you know it and if your family is like ours, that usually means traveling!
If you have kids (we have three), traveling can be stressful. The frequent bathroom stops, whining, and “are we there yets” is enough to drive anyone crazy!
Today I’d like to share a list of ideas for car activities for both older and younger kids. I know many vehicles have DVD players now and there are a lot of options like Kindles and handheld game systems. But if you’re looking for something that doesn’t involve a screen, this post is for you! I hope this will help give you some fresh ideas and make your ride a little smoother! Let’s get started!
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Traveling with Kids
Younger Kids (Ages 2-7)
Some of these ideas can overlap, meaning some younger kids can do some of the ideas listed for older kids, and vice versa, but for the most part it’s age appropriate!
First up, I have to recommend this lap desk. They are awesome for road trips and really inexpensive, which makes them even better! My two younger kids have one and they get so excited when they see the lap desks come out! Grab some coloring books and blank paper and store them in the large side pocket. Crayons and markers fit great in the smaller side pocket (we store them in a zipper pouch in the side pocket) and my kiddos usually use the circle storage to keep their snacks or juice box. This keeps them busy for hours at a time, coloring and drawing.
If your kids aren’t old enough to be trusted with regular markers, Imagine Ink is a lifesaver! They can color to their heart’s content without you having to worry about a mess.
In my research, I found this idea on the blog Mama.Papa.Bubba for Lego tic-tac-toe and I thought it was genius! My kids love playing tic-tac-toe and they already have tons of Legos so it was a cheap (free!) fun game for them to play in the car. All you need is the base plate, 1×2, 1×4, and 1×6 white plates, and colorful squares (5 in each color). Check out her site for more info! Super cool!
Of course, if your kids love to read or look at pictures then having them pick out age-appropriate books to bring is great. It’s perfect for when you’re wanting them to play the “quiet game” for a little while-ha!
Something else my kids have enjoyed in the past is a book on CD. We’d pop into our local library and check out some fun kids books to listen to. They really like it!
Road trip bingo is a great way to get your kiddos to look out their window and enjoy the scenery! There are several printables like this one available on Pinterest.
Another idea I found that I thought was really cute was this one from the blog Family Fresh Meals. You just need a small empty container (think Dollar Tree) and you can place a pad of sticky notes and some crayons in there for coloring. She has some other neat ideas so be sure to check out her site!
Have you been introduced to Magformers? If not, allow me! My in-laws purchased these for my youngest a couple of years back and he LOVES them! In fact, we ended up buying him another set for his birthday so he could build bigger and more complex objects. They come with an easy-to-follow instruction booklet and options to build several different things. They are kind of pricey, but if your kid likes to build they are well worth it. And they’re GREAT for traveling in the car because they’re big pieces (hard to lose) and they’re mess-free!
Another great activity for younger kids is magnetic dress-up kits like these here and here from Melissa and Doug. My daughter loves these and they’re perfect for the car.
Older Kids (Ages 7 and Up)
If you can stand the noise, Bop-it contests are super fun on road trips, especially when you play the “pass it” version. This is one of my kiddos favorites! You start the game, select “pass it” and then one person starts and goes until it tells you it’s time to pass it to the next person. If you mess up on your turn, you’re out and it keeps going until there’s only one person left. Fun!
Mad Libs are really fun to do in the car! They’re hilarious and educational! You can also find a ton of FREE ones on Pinterest!
Traveling games are so great if you have older kids! Get a variety and they’ll be busy for hours! Most stores have a great selection for a reasonable price, but you can also purchase them online. Here are a few of our favorites: Battleship, Clue, Monopoly, Connect 4, Guess Who, Trouble, Spirograph (not really a game, but great if your kids like to draw and design!)
Again, if your kids like to read, reading is a great way to pass time on a trip and it’s quiet! My kids love the Magic Tree House book series, the I Survived series, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the Junie B. Jones series, the Rush Revere series and the Fly Guy books just to name a few.
Word searches, crossword puzzle books, and Sudoku are great for older kids, too!
*One more tip: Grab a tote with a lid to store all of your activities in so it’s easy to grab it and go!
We all know gas station snacks can get expensive! I like to keep some low-sugar snacks on hand when we’re traveling because you KNOW they’ll be hungry! We limit their liquid intake so we don’t have to make constant bathroom stops, but I do like to bring a pack of Honest Kids organic juice boxes for when they’re thirsty. Or a thermos of water since it’s healthy and free! I also throw in some bananas, Cutie oranges, Gold Fish, Wheat Thins, granola bars, pretzels, and other similar snacks. These bowls are GREAT for having snacks in the car! You can find them at Ikea or on Amazon.
I hope this post has been helpful for your upcoming holiday travels! If you have some other ideas you’ve used, please share with us in the comments!