This summer we went on our first 5 hour road trip with two kids. Previously, our longest car trips with two have only been about 3 hours or less. But we’re no strangers to all-day travel with kids, so I knew that having my girls, ages 2 and 6, in the car that long was going to bring a new level of stir crazy. And I wasn’t willing to just have the iPads on the entire trip. So, last-minute, just days before the trip I came up with a road trip activities kit for kids to help stave off boredom and save our sanity. And let me tell ya: the iPads never turned on once the entire road trip. I’d call that a win.
Road Trip Activities Tips
From previous travel with little kids, including cross-country solo travel, I’ve learned a couple of important lessons that are game-changers.
Fresh Toys + Activities
Firstly, it’s always best to have a few kids activities that are brand-new (or at least have been kept out of rotation for a while). When something is fresh, it always seems to help hold my kids attention for longer than a toy they’ve been playing with regularly. I tend to stock up ahead of time and keep a stash in preparation for trips. I’ve also been known to recycle items from one trip, putting it away as soon as we get home, so it still feels new for our next one.
Never underestimate the power of snacks. I am the queen of packing snacks, and thankfully, when it comes to road trips, there is way more flexibility in what all you can bring! Apple sauce pouches, yogurt pouches, peanut butter or cheese sandwich crackers, Goldfish Crackers, individually wrapped Pirate’s Booty, raisins, Cheez-Its, pre-washed fruit, apple juice boxes, and reusable water bottles all made our latest trip. In my house, fed kids are happy kids, so I like being over-prepared. Then we use whatever leftovers we have for the remainder of the trip.
Let Kids Participate
Along with the activities that I put together as a surprise for my kids, I also let them add a few of their favorite small toys into a backpack to play with. Inviting them into the process helps ensure they have a couple of all-time favorites in case all else fails! The backpack is typically also where we put their comfort items like loveys, blankets, favorite book, etc.
Road Trip Activities Kit for Kids
Now that we’ve gone through the big travel tips, let’s get into the actual road trip activities kit. To keep things organized, I ordered this collapsible car organizer, which ended up being a lifesaver. It sat directly in between the two girls’ car seats and was within reach for both. Each child had one side of the organizer, and surprisingly, they kept things in the organizer for both legs of the trip! What I love about the organizer is that it collapses completely flat and could be stored in a backseat pocket if necessary (or really anywhere), but it would also be a great item to keep in the car at all times. I’m picturing a backseat diaper-changing kit for on the go!
The other item I highly recommend for organizational purposes are these lap desks! It’s the best way I’ve found to keep things more contained. It’s also way more effective for art projects, coloring, playfoam, etc.
Road Trip Activities
So what did I include in our kit? Here is exactly what we used plus a few extras that have been favorites from all of our previous family travel!
- Melissa and Doug Water Wow Books (best suited for the toddler crowd!)
- Magic Painting Books (great for 4+ and also just uses water!)
- Travel Playfoam Kit
- Geo Board Set (school-aged kids will love this!)
- Reusable Puffy Sticker Activity Books (this was the most-used item for both girls!)
- Coloring Books or Color Wonder Books
- Highlights Hidden Picture Books (best for 5+)
- Paint by Sticker Books (best for 5+)
- Scratch Art Book for younger kids or Scratch Art Paper for older ones
- Little Golden Books (They’re thin and packable!)
- Fashion Angels design sketchbooks (My 6 year old is obsessed with these!!)
- Popping Fidget Toy
- Ipad/Kids Tablet
- Wireless Headphones
Do you have any must-haves for road trip activities? Send ’em my way for our next trip!