Travel Activities For Kids – What To Do On Long Road Trips With Toddlers

Coming up with fun ideas for long road trips before traveling can be difficult while your brain is also sorting through your entire packing list and all of the other details of your trip agenda. However, planning a few fun road trip activities for kids before you start off on your trip can go a long way toward the sanity of everyone in the vehicle if you are traveling with little ones!

We recently returned from a 6+ hour road trip with our 1 and 2 year olds and have another 10+ hour trip planned in the coming weeks. From toddler car seat toys to some homemade “play hacks,” I thought I would share a few of the entertainment ideas we came up with. It’s my hope that they will help you to think of ideas to occupy your own traveling crew!

I’m happy to report that with the below activities and items on hand our kids traveled without any major boredom meltdowns – and I would venture to say that they even enjoyed the prolonged time in the van!

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Here’s our list of travel activities for toddlers in the car:

1. PlayDough!

I know what you’re thinking – “no way am I bringing THAT into the car!” However, with a little bit of planning, allowing playdough in the car doesn’t have to result in a mess of colorful dried globs all over everything in sight. If you are protective of your vehicle, then this activity is not for you – but if you drive a “lived-in” van like ours, then it’s a great option to entertain your toddler!

I simply packed a few mini containers of playdough with a handful of cookie cutters and a small rimmed baking tray. Our 2-year-old loved the fun of playing with it on the tray and the mess was easily contained on the tray.

toddler car seat toys

(Note: Limiting the quantity I believe also helped to keep mess minimal.)

2. Coloring

There are a lot of ways for toddlers to enjoy coloring in the car. From water-based coloring sets, magnetic doodle boards,¬†and wipeable crayon doodle boards to traditional coloring books or paper and crayons, you can’t go wrong to bring some coloring materials along for a toddler on a long road trip. We packed along several coloring books and a pile of crayons for our 2 year old. The cup holder on her car seat served as a great crayon-holder and she was able to enjoy lots of coloring time!

She also enjoyed a Crayola Double Doodle Board on the way home. The Double Doodle Board is designed for young toddlers with one wipe-able side for coloring with any washable crayons and another side with colored gel that toddlers can scribble on with just their fingers or any other object. It’s a nice stiff board and a compact size perfect for bringing along on a road trip!

For older toddlers Crayola also makes some really fun travel coloring kits to keep everything contained and convenient.

Coloring is a great way to keep busy toddler hands and minds busy on long road trips!

3. Books

Books are absolutely something to have on your road trip with toddler checklist. Bringing along a few favorite books can be a great way to fight toddler boredom. Even our 1 year old was entertained for some time by flipping through one of her favorite object books in her car seat. Our 2 year old enjoys “reading” the stories out loud and can be entertained for quite some time by a few books – especially if they are ones that are new to her!

4. Small Toys

Toddler road trip toys don’t have to be travel specific to thoroughly entertain. We actually let our 2 year old daughter pick out her own toys to bring along (as long as they had mommy’s approval). We pulled out a bag and told her to fill it with toys that she wanted to enjoy in the van. Most of them were small cars or trinket objects that she enjoys at home, but she had a blast playing with them all in the car! I think giving her some ownership of what she was bringing along helped to make it special to her to be able to play with each of the items on the road.

Looking for some new toy ideas for the car? Check out some of these suggestions from The Bump.

5. DVDs

We are fortunate to have a minivan with a built-in DVD player, which has become quite handy for longer trips with the kids. However, even if you don’t have a built-in player you can get small portable DVD players or use a laptop with a DVD drive. Some of the small portable DVD players even attach to headrests for rear-facing kids!

We like to save DVD playing until the end of a long drive when most of the other activities have already been enjoyed and the kids are more prone to tiredness meltdowns. If you have the ability to play one of their favorite movies in the car it can be a great way to entertain toddlers!

6. Snacks

Last but definitely not least, snacks can be a great way to entertain toddlers on long road trips. Obviously, pumping a toddler full of sugar and junk food may not help their ability to sit through a long road trip – but planning ahead with a few healthy and/or favorite snacks can make a road trip fun for young kids and prevent hunger meltdowns.

I actually planned and brought along breakfast and lunch to give our girls in the van – all in containers that they could hold and eat in their car seats. This stopped us from needing to stop to accommodate their hunger and made eating their meals a fun activity for them to enjoy while we drove. I will admit, however, that letting a 1 year old eat on her own in the car makes quite a mess!

(I also packed plenty of snacks to stave off the “Mommy I’m hungry” complaints that sometimes just come from boredom.)

Road Trip Activities For 2 Year Olds

If you’re planning a long road trip with a toddler then I hope that these ideas help to spur some of your own! Our travel went very smoothly with a little bit of planning ahead for the kids.

NOTE: I also just have to mention one of the road trip with toddler hacks that we discovered!

Our 2 year old still drinks a lot of milk (which I had packed ahead in her sippy cups but forgot!) It’s hard to find any way to give a toddler milk on the road when you don’t have a sippy cup along and don’t trust them with an open cup. However, Maola single-serving milks at Sheetz have a handy foil seal over the top. If you trust your toddler with a not-completely-spill-proof straw, then just poke one through the top! We had no spills and I had peace of mind that our daughter was still getting her milk.

car themed activities for toddlers


Travel Activities For Kids – What To Do On Long Road Trips With Toddlers