We went on our first long road trip with our two little boys (2 and 3 1/2). I wanted it to be a nice family experience despite the many hours we had to spend in the car so I searched the internet for the best travel toys for toddlers and preschoolers, created some travel scavenger hunts for kids and purchased a few cheap items that would keep my kids busy. I initially gathered everything into a box but moved them in a large backpack, together with some favorite snacks, and kept the backpack by my feet. The kids played nicely with almost all the items and we reached the destination with no meltdown. We also used one easy trick to survive this road trip with young kids.
Travel Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers
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Reusable Sticker Pad by Melissa & Dough
I got 2 Sticker Pads: My Town and Vehicles. They each come with 5 colorful backgrounds and about 200 repositionable stickers. My preschooler loved them but he needed a bit of help. The first few pages are the sticker pages and getting the stickers out was tricky for a 3 years old. I had to help him but once he had them he could easily stick and unstick them to and from the different backgrounds. The pads open up and as they are pretty big, it’s not so comfortable to be held on a kid’s lap without adult help. A smaller format and spiral book binding would be more appropriate for younger kids but all in all it is a great travel product and my son spent a lot of time playing with it. Even my 2 year old expressed some interest in it, but he mainly preferred to look at the sticker pages.
The 2 magnetic tins: Curious George and Construction were also among my kids’ favorite. Prior to our departure I removed all the magnets from the sheets and placed them in small bags, otherwise, if put directly in the tin, there will be too many magnets and no space left for play. My youngest loved to take all the magnets out of the bag and place them randomly inside the tin while his brother played a lot with his magnets.
Water Wow Coloring Book by Melissa & Dough
Paint-with-water coloring book includes four reusable pages and a refillable water pen. It’s the best water coloring activity I’ve seen so far, the brush can hold a lot of water, can’t be squeezed and it doesn’t leak. It is easy to refill that even a toddler can unscrew the brush, which is good…though not in the car when the kid wants to see how much water’s left and you can’t reach far enough to get the brush out of his hands before spilling the water on him. I have a little boy who LOVES water, give him a hose and he’ll get immediately soaking wet head to toe, so he enjoyed that part of “painting” on himself.
Fun toy but my son didn’t get to play too much with it as he dropped the magnetic wand between the car seats where anyone could reach it. I wish it came attached, though to their defense this toy is recommended for ages 5+.
Doodler by Fisher-Price
We always carry two of these in the car, one for each kid. Easy to hold, wipe and the pen can’t be detached. I mean, we had another doodler before the Fisher Price and though the pen was attached my kids found a way to untie the string. It also has two magnets, a circle and an triangle, that makes drawing even more interesting.
Kaleidoscope by Schylling
We didn’t have a kaleidoscope with us in the car but I think it may be a good addition to a road trip. You can even make one yourself if you want, just look for a tutorial online. I came across several on Pinterest.
Craft / coloring supplies
Scribble pads, coloring books and stickers – I got them all from Dollar Tree. My boys absolutely loved the stickers, especially the outer space ones. I also got a huge bag of foam stickers which I divided in 4 smaller bags. I think a dollar store is a great source for travelling supplies that will keep kids busy and entertained.
I also included some small toys kids haven’t played with before. Two cars, which were a gift from their uncle who in Germany, were a big hit as the doors could be opened. My youngest stuffed all sorts of things into his car, from food to stickers. They got the cars for Christmas but because they had small parts, I hid them for later.
Travel Scavenger Hunt
What other items do you take along on a road trip with kids?