Have a big trip coming up?  Worried or stressed about traveling with your kids? Here are some tips and products to reduce the anxiety and help make the trip go a little smoother to arrive at your destination with all your hair intact.

Do you experience this and want to avoid it at all cost?!?

*** First half is Toddler-centered activities–scroll down for baby-centered distractions***

No Cost Car Games (toddler edition)

Who doesn’t like free no-prep car games? Here are some of our favorites while on the road.

  • Can you name that sound..?  Take turns making animal noises or vehicle noises (airplane, train, car) and take turns guessing.  Kids love this one!

  • Name that movie! My 2.5 year old is very good at this one.  I usually pick a kid’s Disney Pandora station or disney pandora station and if he has trouble I’ll give clues as to what happened in the movie.
  • Singing The best part about singing with your kids is no matter how awful you are, the younger they are the more likely they are to think you are an AMAZING singer.
  • I spy- this classic game is easy once your toddler knows their colors.  “I spy something blue…and out your window.”  
  • ABCs game (educational!)-You can do many things with this game, but for a 2 year old I usually just do one thing with each letter.  For example.  Letter A–I say one thing like ant on an —– and he tries to fill in the blank with the sound of something that begins with an A and sometimes I’ll give him choices.  Apple or orange? I ask him which one sounds like the “a” in ant and if he gets it wrong I don’t discourage I just say “ant on an APPLE! Ant and apple”. Then we just move on to the next letter. For me, I always like to see how far we can make it into the alphabet with his attention.
  • Can you find the ….?  This is just like hide and seek in the car.  I name things I can see right out the window or things coming up that will be in his view and see if he can spot them.

Pretend

This is one that guarantee will stop a 2 year old mid tantrum!  I ask him to help me drive the car– I need help. For some reason if you say it as if you need THEIR help, they are always willing!  This works well when he/she is facing forward.  I hold the steering will down low even so it appears from their perspective they are actually driving.  I talk as I’m driving “Oh no look up ahead here comes a stoplight, what color is it?” …”That means we…?” If its green I say press the gas pedal and he knows to push his foot down against the back of the seat (same thing if it is press the brake!)  He usually gets a kick out of this if I get really into it…::Make a screeching noise::”OH phew thank goodness you pressed the brake in time!!” 

Here are some ideas while driving:

  • Look over there–Wave to the blue car coming up by your window!
  • Uh oh we need to start slowing down look at the cars in front of us, they have their lights on and we are getting closer.  HELP US STOP!!
  • Get ready, we need to turn the steering wheel (point which direction they need to turn). Turn your blinker on.

Simple Simon

Same as Simon says, but this is the car version so it’s somewhat limited. With the younger kids, they have to understand the concept or you could just play and see if they can do it and not necessarily follow the traditional rules which are as follows in case you cannot remember.  Only follow directions if you say “Simon says…” in front of the task. Then you give a task without Simon says and see if they continued to do it.  This usually ends in laughter because you end up saying “What are you doing, Simon didn’t say to….”

Simon says..

  • touch your nose
  • touch your elbows
  • stick out your tongue
  • shake your hands
  • click your heels together
  • blow a kiss
  • wave goodbye…etc

Mess Free Coloring

These are definitely a HIT for multiple locations but definitely the car or airplane.  We use these for quiet places, church for example and doctor’s office waiting room.

These Imagine Ink Marker/Book sets include several pages of not only coloring pages, but activity pages for any older kids.  I have never seen my kid color they way he does in these books. He colors the ENTIRE page to see what appears with the magic marker.  Seriously. so. focused. The best thing is there are so many out there than the ones I’m listing so be sure to look around.  Here are just a few…

Hand/Eye Coordination 

Want to really work the brain and maybe get them sleepy? Here are a few activities for the trip that will help practice their hand/eye coordination skills.

    • Pipe Cleaners and a strainer or really anything with holes in it.  I’ve tried this at home and our strainer holes were too large so I just found an old shoebox and and poked holes all over it for him to place pipe cleaners through.  Took a little bit of focus and concentration.
    • Shoes strings and puzzle pieces-You can easily DIY and prepare ahead of time for a trip or you can purchase this activity by clicking the pictures below.  We have also used this activity for quiet places such as church–it never gets old with him either.

  • STICKERS!- Have you ever seen the determination of a 2 year old trying to take a sticker off.  You offer to help, but NOOOOO they want to do it themselves.  Buy a pack of stickers and let them go crazy in a coloring book, on a blank sheet of paper, or their shoes.  I’ve let my kid even put stickers in a reading book as long as it kept him quiet and happy in the car…I was also pleased.
  • Busy Books--someday soon on my to do list I plan on making some of these for myself and any parent who wishes for some peace and quiet ha!  In the mean time my older sister bought a couple of these for my son for church and let me tell you these books NEVER. GET. OLD.  Here are the ones that we have used and I would give 5 stars!

  • Don’t laugh, but…..a bag full of coins and a piggy bank.  Okay, but seriously my son treasures coins in fact he calls them his “Daylight” (this is in reference to a kid show where the kid has a medallion that looks similar to a quarter.)  Once again the determination on this kid’s face as he is placing each coin into the tiny slot.  It’s almost like watching paint dry, but once again he is happy, then I’m happy.
  • Wallet-If you didn’t want to hear all the jingling or couldn’t find a piggy bank that was quiet, you could use a wallet and prepare “credit cards” and some play money for them to place in and out of their little wallet.  They definitely learn by watching us so I’m sure this would provide some distraction. I just purchased this one below, but may buy the Paw Patrol one too:)

Book on Tape/CD and Meditation CDS


These do not necessarily have to be on CDs, I bet there are some kid friendly ones that can be found on Youtube or any app.  I definitely know most libraries carry books on tape and CDs that you can check out.  Here is a meditation CD that my son loves.  There are only 3 tracks and the narrator has an England accent, but her voice is very soothing.  The meditation is basically the woman taking you on an “adventure” as she describes you floating up into outer space going on a rocket ride  The other two tracks is a trip to the beach and the third is in the snow.  It makes me sleepy so I would suggest having your child wear headphones so you don’t put your driver to sleep! EEK!

Newborn and up Distractions!

Finger puppets and Hand puppets

This of course only works if you have someone else driving the car, but for an airplane ride this could come in handy!

These can be handmade.  For finger puppets, find an old glove and let your inner child run wild! Or simply use a permanent marker to draw on a silly face.  

For a hand puppet, use a sock and grab some buttons for eyes, some yarn or shoe laces for hair, and use a marker to color on a nose and mouth if you wish!

Now for the fun part—when your little one starts fussing, use your puppet to tell a story, read a book, or sing a song.  Another idea is to have your hand puppet “taste” their fingers.  I have done this on a rainy day at our house and BOTH my kids got a kick out of this so much we probably were doing this for at least half an hour.  I would have the puppet “taste” their little fingers while making all sorts of sound effects including spitting out their finger or “choking” on their finger and then tell them what their finger tastes like… “Mmmmmm, you taste like strawberries!” :::Making coughing sound:: “Yuck…..you tastes like dirt with pickles”.  Like I said, let your inner child go wild here.  We had fun with this!

Finger puppet books

This one also needs to have an additional person other than the driver!

My second son is such a mama’s boy and I should feel special, but honestly I’m getting over it.  I cannot get dressed in the morning without him wanting to be held let alone any personal tasks that involve two hands.  So this book has been a great distractor for moments when I need someone to step in my place to watch him for a second.  This book was a gift and is now bit run down for the multiple kids using it, but you can find these books here on Amazon (aka my happy place). There are a variety of these to choose from so look around!

Music

Find your kids’ favorite music and get them on Itunes, CD, or even do a simple search on Youtube and hook it up to your bluetooth.  We are a fan of Pandora and I personally like the surprise of the songs that come up on our favorite channels.  Here is a list of our favorite songs to sing along to. (toddler edition*)

  • Going on a Bear Hunt
  • Pop Goes the Weasel
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
  • The Wheels on the Bus
  • Elmos Song
  • Oh A Milkshake!
  • Take me Out to the Ballgame
  • 5 LIttle Monkeys
  • Baby Shark
  • Can’t Stop the Feeling-Justin Timerlake (Trolls Movie)
  • Sing! soundtrack
  • Any of the Pentatonix songs–for some reason he loves these!
  • Jim Raffi music
Here is my little singer mid-song and happy!

Old Keys or Phone

Okay this one may be a bit of a stretch, but both of my kids always wanted what I had in my hand when they were very young (the no speaking but whining until I get what I want stage).  You can create a set of old keys to put together for them to jingle jangle all around or if you are worried about them getting in their mouth, then you could probably purchase a set of play keys.  If I find some with good reviews, I’ll add a link.

You know I did…. over a 400 reviews!  This play set of keys has lights and sounds, looks like the real thing, and it is Non-toxic and BPA free.  Oh Amazon ad, you had me at prime 🙂 Click below to get your spare set! Yes, please!

Oh and yes, the phone.  Is it the bright light on the phone, the flickering of images, or is it because YOU have it and YOU are looking at it and YOU are not noticing your child and they want YOU to pay attention to them?!? Or is it the combination of all of the above? HAHA! I guarantee you probably have an old phone lying around in junk drawer some where and my guess it does not even have to work for them to show interest in it and want to push the buttons.  Give it a whirl and see if it works!

Mess-Free, On-the-Go Snacks

Okay, saving the best for last and no I’m not referring to Benadryl–that deserves it’s own post …haha..just kidding, but seriously.  You probably have your own go-to-snacks by now if you have a kid and ever experienced needing to step out of the house. Food has always been a great distractor for my second kid.  I’m calling these my favorite snacks, because the clean up makes my job easier. Just a side note to prevent parent shaming** yes it is wise to not feed your child while in the car seat so these may be good while at a rest stop.

  • Applesauce pouches—yes!!! I love to eat this too!
  • Marshmallows–oh you dropped one? No biggie.  Plus these don’t get crushed into the floor or seats–well, if they do it’s an easy pick up.
  • Fig Bars–soft, chewy fig newton type bars that get COMPLETELY eaten. Even by my picky eater of a 2 year old.  These never make it to the floor or their shirts.  Two in a pack makes sharing easy! Plus a variety of flavors.
  • Fruit and Veggie melts-no mess and they eat these by the handful.  They also have a variety of flavors.
  • Carrot sticks/chips-these are great for your little ones who need something to gnaw on while teething!
  • String cheese–enough said right? 
  • Graham Crackers-no melting in the car and no need to refrigerate these!
  • Hard-boiled eggs–I will get filled up on these so these maybe good for any egg lovers.
  • Turkey Jerky bites-easy clean up and it only takes a few to have ‘enough’. 
  • Tortilla roll-ups-easy to eat and you can even just tear off little pieces for them as needed. 

Let me know if you have some great distractors for traveling with your little ones. I would love to ad them to my list especially since we have some trips coming up this summer! While you are here, check out more posts below!