Car Activities for Toddlers to Keep Them Busy and Occupied During Long Trips

Getting anxious about a long road trip with your active and fussy toddler? Road trips don’t have to be stressful! Start looking at long trips with your little one as an exciting adventure. Want to know how?

Many activities can engage your toddler to keep them busy and occupied during long trips, resulting in memories for a lifetime. Car rides don’t have to be full of whining and shouting or wishing they were peacefully asleep. It can be fun for both parents and children – all you have to know is how to stay busy!

In this article, we give you ten car activities for toddlers so you can entertain them on long road trips. We also include some toddler-approved tips to remember when traveling with your little one. Keep reading to find out some fun activities to try on your next long car ride!

10 Car Activities to Keep Your Toddler Busy

Bring workbooks

focus of kid using crayons coloring book

Whether your child can read or not, you can find an inexpensive workbook, sticker book, or coloring book to keep your little one occupied. Bring crayons so they can color and doodle to their heart’s content!

Try to find one appropriate for their age and make it an educational activity while you’re at it! Workbooks are a great way for your child’s mind to be engaged and stop them from getting fussy for a while.

Magnet Puzzles

constructive playthings magnetic puzzle color matching game for kids, toddlers

Pick up easy puzzles for your toddler to complete on a long car trip. Since it’s hard to work on an actual puzzle, you can spruce it up a little. Stick adhesive magnetic dots to the back, and your child can now stick the pieces onto a baking sheet! It will keep them busy and preoccupied while you drive.

Lego Minisets

focus of child playing with lego boxes

You can get mini Lego boxes and keep your child focused on building unique creations. This distraction is educational and fun – resulting in a happier baby and happier you!

Seek & Find Books

Check out your local library or bookstore for a search-and-find book. It has I Spy and Where’s Waldo style drawings and activities. Your kid will spend a lot of time trying to find the hidden items on the pages, and it gives you time to relax in the back seat with them. There is nothing like a challenge, and your child will be excited to bring it on!

Writing Tablets

This gadget will make your life a whole lot easier! These LCD writing tablets come with a stylus, and your child is free to draw, color, and doodle on the board to keep them entertained.

where's bluey; a search-and-find book for toddlers

These tablets are a great way to keep your little one quiet and preoccupied while you travel. It’s best to surprise them with it as a new toy so that the novelty factor itself will kill some time.

I – Spy Games

There are so many different variations of this game that you can create on the road. Play a colors version with a younger toddler or a vehicles version with an older one to keep younger kids entertained for quite a bit, especially if both parents jump in and play. A family activity to keep the excitement and momentum of the trip alive!

Discussion Questions

If your child is above 3 and is very chatty, you can play a discussion game on the road trip. Prepare a list or jar of discussion questions written on scraps of paper before your trip. You can all take turns choosing a number or picking out of the jar and answering the questions as a family.

Ask questions about your favorite food, movies, animals, places. Or you can ask deeper questions to help your child formulate their own opinions and communicate their thoughts in a healthy, judgment-free zone.

FlashCards

Pick up some age-appropriate flashcards, and don’t forget to attach them to a large binder ring to prevent a mess. When your toddler starts getting antsy, pull out this fun activity, so they can do simple math problems, learn shapes, words, or a new language. The possibilities are endless. Keep them entertained while educating them!

Playlist Full of their Favourite Songs

Have a playlist full of your child’s go-to tunes, and turn on shuffle when they start getting cranky. Encourage them to sing along or dance in their car seats to help your baby calm down and have fun. Make a game out of it and take turns singing verses. Both parents should be as silly as possible to get your baby out of their fussy mood and into high spirits!

Counting Game

This road trip activity is perfect when your child is bored and cranky. Set a timer and see how many blue cars you can count in one minute. If you’re passing through a rural area, you can do the same for horses or barns. Your child will have so much fun trying to compete that their boredom will simply fly away!

Nap or Quiet Time

If you have a nap/sleep schedule for your child, you don’t have to forgo it on your car trip. Bring their favorite blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal and encourage them to take their morning or afternoon nap. You can cuddle with them to show that it’s nap/quiet time for you as well.

Make sure they have something quiet to do or look at while they doze off. Even if they don’t sleep, you’ll still be sticking to your daily routine, guilt-free.

New Books

Familiar books and toys will get too boring for your baby. So buy or borrow new library books you know your little one will have a blast reading! Surprising them with new books on the car ride will put them in a happier mood, not to mention distract them. So borrow away and have a few ready in the back seat.

Kids apps

close up of turned on ipad

If your toddler is a fan of scrolling through your phone, you can use that to your advantage. Download some educational apps for children on your phone. They will give your kids some screen time, but it will also be educational. Just search up “Top Kids Educational Games” in your app store, and you should find plenty of options!

iPad or Tablet

When these road trip games and activities just don’t seem to cut it, and your child needs the big guns – it’s okay to whip out your family tablet and let them play games or watch a movie. Download some Disney movies or episodes of their fave TV shows and let them entertain themselves with them for a couple of hours.

It should also do the trick if your baby is getting tired of being in one spot and is crying or getting upset. But use this as a last resort – after trying out other activities. You don’t want your child to be watching mindless TV for the entirety of the trip. And keep in mind that once you show them this holy grail – nothing else might compare. Use wisely!

Tips for Long Road Trips with Toddlers

Start your family road trip early

Starting your long car ride earlier in the day will make for a calmer and more peaceful baby and trip! Toddlers will probably sleep a little at the beginning of the drive – knocking out a few hours of your journey. Or they will take part of their nap on the drive to your destination.

Kids just tend to be happier in the morning, so consider starting that road trip earlier in the day to keep your toddler from getting cranky!

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Pack their favorite toys and/or blanket and only give them to them when they start getting fussy or don’t want to do any of your activities. You can even pack a few of their older toys or books that they haven’t seen in a while. It will surprise and entertain them for a longer time.

Consider subscribing to an Audible account to play your child’s favorite books (an audiobook version). Or you can always bring their favorite book and read it to them to calm them down.

One parent should sit in the back to play with them

Take turns driving and riding in the back with your child. This way, both parents get some one-on-one time with the baby!

If you are going on a particularly long road trip, it’s always best to take turns and give each other the rest you need. What better way than to snuggle with your little one in the back and entertain them while they are awake? This way, you get adequate rest, and your toddler isn’t ever alone in the back seat.

Know your route and plan your stops

If you can, research your route before you start your trip. Plan which pit stops you will take – check if it has a mini-playground and your child’s favorite fast food joint, so you and your little one can get some fresh air and food.

Knowing all of this will prepare you for any situation and won’t leave you feeling confused or stressed. Being prepared will bring you a sense of calm and help you manage your time wisely.

Organize your diaper bag and luggage in the back

Know where important items are stashed in your baby’s diaper bag so you can access what you need as quickly as possible.

A diaper bag that has everything thrown together can become a hassle to deal with when you have a relentlessly crying baby to take care of. We know diaper bags come with many pockets, but if you create a system where the most wanted things are within easy reach, it will make your road trip a lot smoother!

Invest in roadside assistance

Having the option of roadside assistance for your vehicle will help you in your journey. Say something goes wrong on a long road trip. You don’t have to rack your brain, trying to figure out how to fix it. Instead, call your roadside assistance provider and be on your way. It’s one less thing you have to worry about when planning your trip!

Have snacks and drinks ready

Try to keep your toddler’s favorite snacks and drinks in the back, within reach. When they get cranky, you can give them a snack to placate them – without the hustle and bustle of reaching into the trunk or pulling over to a pitstop to get it out of your luggage in the back.

Starting your trip with everything in the right place will give you and your family a hassle-free car ride!

Final Thoughts

Long car rides plus toddlers don’t have to be a scary mix! Going on a family road trip should bring you a deep sense of adventure and excitement for what’s ahead. You’ll be creating a lifetime’s worth of memories with your little one.

If you know activities, tips, and tricks to navigate around long, exhausting car rides, you will be on your way to having more fun adventures rather than worrying.

We covered the top activities for your toddler to keep them busy and occupied during long trips and shared the best tips for road trips with your little one. Hopefully, this has inspired you to take more road trips – without the anxiety!

Pack your bags, have an assortment of activities ready, and bring on the adventure!


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