In this post, our Blog Ambassador Julie of Happy Strong Home unpacks 4 activity tips for family road trips.
When I was little, we took family road trips every summer across half the nation. My mom had the genius idea to pack a bag full of car activities which she would dole out every few hours. Once we crossed the state line, a pile of comic books, puzzle pads, or small games would magically be handed back from the front seat. The random surprises would keep us happy and quiet in the backseat for hours on end.
I’ve borrowed my mom’s wisdom for our own family road trips, which have spanned the entire eastern seaboard! Keeping two active boys happy while strapped into car seats is made easier with these activity tips!
1. Bag it up for an organized car ride
For each of my boys, I filled a beach tote bag bag full of surprises for the road. Coloring, activities, games, and even vacation essentials like sun hats and sunglasses. The ocean creature beach totes were also part of the surprise, and the boys loved receiving their favorite color or ocean animal bag. The bags have mesh sides too, which made them perfect to transition from activity bag to actual beach bag!
2. Road trip play that does double duty
Since space is limited, I picked toys and games with multiple ways to play. Like our Pets Cube Puzzle – gives the boys six different puzzles to put together (with a handy tray for car play!). Plus, it doubles as a block activity! We used a stretchy Puzzle Keeper to keep the blocks from falling all over the car. My littlest son loved putting it on his head like a swim cap, which I suppose could be another creative interpretation!
Not only do the toys have double uses, but we put them into play both in the car and on location. Visiting relatives often means kids end up waiting around to eat or go in the pool. Sometimes older relatives don’t have a toy selection, so bringing some of our own games was key.
Both the boys used the wipe-off place mats in the car as an activity mat. My oldest circled all the states we drove through, while the three year old traced letters. At our relatives house, we put them at the breakfast table, which was great for little boys waiting to fill their tummies!
3. Go for reusable activities, for long-lasting engagement
No need to replenish the toy supply when you bring toys that can be used over and over. I loved hearing the boys tell each other stories as they played with the reusable puffy pirate stickers and cool careers sticker book. They’d swap sticker sets for some pretty wild creations! A pirate at the firehouse!?
Our flip-to-win Hangman game proved to be a winning choice too. Everyone could play no matter where they were in the car. Either flipping letters or guessing, the whole family got in on the fun – no fair when your six year old makes up words you’ve never even heard! Even our three year old got in some letter recognition practice by flipping over the correct letters each turn.
We like to keep the technology to a minimum on vacation, so we can just enjoy each other’s company. Playing pinball non-video game style, is just our style for low tech action games.
4. Find items that appeal to specific interests
Our little guy loves mazes, so the Water Wow Maze book kept him busy tracing mazes the whole trip. Because it dries up and is reusable, he could play the same maze over and over, or let his big brother take a turn.
Drawing has been a growing interest for our oldest. The lengthy trip gave him time to draw and color a lot. But also to learn. The Scratch Art Learn to Draw Pets book taught him the steps to draw a variety of different animals as we rode along.
Road trips don’t have to be monotonous when you plan for excitement every mile of the way. Pack your own surprise bags full of engaging activities to speed the miles along… you may just not want the trip to end!