Now that my kids are older, road trips are considerably easier. They can pick out and pack their own toys and clothes (with a check by Mom), and somewhat understand what we mean when we say ‘7 hours of driving’.
When they were little, I used cheap solutions like noticing which toys they played with frequently and stashing them into a bucket or bag a week or so before the trip. I would place that bag/bucket by my feet and as the fussiness started, bring the items out one at a time.
Crying because you’re sick of being in the car but the next rest area is 20km? Here’s a favourite toy you haven’t seen in a week! Crying stops.
Obviously distractions do not replace breaks, you need to stop for breaks as often as possible, little ones need to stretch their legs too whether it’s crawling around the vehicle or getting out and going for a few quick laps around the vehicle!
Finger puppets were also great, the passenger can start the show and hand them over to your child so they can have a turn too! If you have more than one child, they can take turns putting on a puppet show for each other!
Tip: pack these toys back into the container and leave them in the vehicle when you arrive at your destination, then they are forgotten about and ‘fun’ once again when you leave!
Other Boredom Busters:
Counting Motorcycles, Semi Trucks, Cars, or just pointing them out to each other.
Playing ‘I Spy with my little eye’.
License Plate Search- spell out words for older kids, look for certain numbers or letters with younger kids, and bonus points for any exciting out of province plates from far away!
‘Simon Says’ can be played in the car with some modifications, of course. This one usually ends in extremely silly instructions and ends in laughter.
Colouring – crayons or pencil crayons, no felts because guaranteed on a long drive they will find a time to draw on some part of your vehicle that they should not be drawing on while nobody is looking!
Glow Sticks- if you will be driving at night these are a great idea especially the big packs of glow stick bracelets! It gives the kids a bit more light without disturbing the driver, plus they will be entertained putting the glow sticks together and playing with them afterwards.
Activity Packs- found at most dollar stores in cute packages with activities related to popular characters. These usually include coloring sheets, stickers, crayons and some fun activity sheets.
Pack a Frisbee, soccer ball, or your family’s favorite game to play to stretch those legs at the rest stops. There’s nothing worse than kids sitting down outside the car not wanting to move around, meanwhile you know full well they will be full of energy as soon as you put it in Drive! Make it fun!
Potty Training Tip: it does not matter how many times you ask them, they will wait until you’re nowhere near a rest area to tell you they need to go-now! Pack a potty, baby wipes, Toilet Paper and hand sanitizer all together. Also pack grocery bags to bag up any waste and dump out the pee, then store your waste bag in your potty! This was a life saver for me more than once.
Thank you so much for reading! I will do some more specific posts with packing lists for you soon!