Traveling with Kids



Summer vacation is upon us, and if you are like most families, you will probably be taking a trip at some point over the next few months.  Are you looking for a few screen-free ways to keep the kids entertained in the car?


screen free ways to entertain kids while traveling


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When I’m packing for a car trip with kids, the first thing I make sure I bring to help keep the kids busy in the car is art supplies.  I’m talking basic stuff here:  spiral notebook (or a clipboard with computer paper), stickers, and crayons.


entertaining kids in car



When it comes to crayons in the car, I always pack twist up crayons like these, that way if they get lost in the hot car, there is less chance of melting issues.  As for stickers, I put some in a ziplock baggie and then tons of extras in another bag.  This way I can restock the sticker supply as needed when we stop for bathroom breaks, etc.   Another hint when it comes to stickers:  if your little one has trouble peeling them off on his/her own, peel off the background sticky stuff, leaving just the stickers on the sheet.

We always have books in the car, but when we are traveling I make sure to add a few of their favorites and their LeapFrog TAG books, too.   I also add a couple hidden picture books.


traveling with preschoolers


They have these in a wide variety of topics and for all ages.  For younger kids, look for ones that show you a picture of what your are searching for on each page.

Speaking of books, magnet books are also a hit in the car.


car travel with kids


My kids love to use the magnets to tell their own stories as they flip through the pages.

And, that brings me to the next thing I always take while traveling:  cookie sheets and magnets!   (Word of advice:  make sure the magnets stick to the cookie sheet ahead of time.  One year I grabbed a cookie sheet that wouldn’t work with magnets, and I had one unhappy child!)


keeping kids busy in car



To decrease the chance of fighting over magnets, I divvy them out ahead of time in baggies.  I have 2 complete sets of ABC and number magnets.  I also have a new magnetic dress up doll I got for a dollar at the dollar store and some car magnets.  I’m sure they will take the magnets out of the magnet books, too, and have a grand old time telling stories on their cookie sheets!  Want to take it a step further?  Make a few simple backgrounds on some paper for them to use.  Better yet, bring some plain paper and they can make their own backgrounds while traveling!

The cookie trays also make great inexpensive drawing boards or surfaces to drive small toys cars on while traveling.  (Got to have a few small cars or my little Monkey won’t be a happy traveler!)

Just about every kid loves to play with water.  And most kids like painting, too!  Why not combine the two in a fairly mess-free activity for car travel?



travel tips for kids


I originally found a couple Water Wow books at Big Lots for a few dollars each.  They were such a hit that I picked up a few more by Imagine Ink (I think they were $6 each) at the book store.  Definitely worth it!  I just fill the water pens up ahead of time and put them in a ziplock bag, ready to go.  When the kids finish “painting” a book, I take and set them on the floorboards to dry, and they are ready to paint again in no time!  Since it’s just water, the biggest mess you’ll have is the amount of water in the small water pens — if they just squeeze it everywhere instead of painting with it.  (Aquadoodle is also a great way to paint with water in the car!)

Still don’t like the idea of water pens in the car?  There are a variety of other books that allow you to color with special markers that don’t mark on anything except the pages in the book.


traveling with preschoolers


Small Magna Doodle boards and Etch-a-Sketch boards are also a big hit while traveling.


keeping kids busy in car


Then there are the “odds and ends” I’m bringing on vacation this year.


tips for travel with kids



I have Post-It Notes, ready to be drawn on and then displayed on windows, the ceiling, or the kids themselves.  There are small cans of Play-Doh, which they can mold into a variety of shapes using those cookie sheets as a table.  Pipe cleaners can also be fun for kids to bend and create their own people/animals.  I also made our own tangrams, cutting a variety of shapes out of card stock (and for a second set I just used an old cereal box).  The kids can use these on the cookie sheets to build a variety of houses, cars, animals…whatever they think of!


Finally, don’t forget the snacks!

I make sure to have plenty of dry snacks on hand.  Dry cereal, goldfish crackers, pretzel sticks, raisins…snacks like this don’t make a huge mess and are easy to vacuum up later.  And, as long as you are giving out snacks, why not make an activity of it?  tips for travel with kids


This year I have baggies with pipe cleaners and dry cereal so they can string their own snack bracelets!  (I’ve seen them with string, but I don’t want anything long enough that they could strangle each other in the backseat while I’m driving…)


Now you’ve got 10+ screen-free ways to entertain kids while traveling.

~ Wishing each of you a wonderful, and safe, vacation with the kids!


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  1. Great tips at a great time!! We have a 6 hr road trip coming up this Friday. Soo using a LOT of these ideas! Thank you :-)
    rebecca at thisfineday recently posted..Lost children at Disneyland? No Thanks.

    1. Hope they help!
      Good luck and have a safe trip! :)

  2. My kids love using pipe cleaners in the car! They make all sorts of things with them! (I’d be nervous about the string, too!)
    Ginny Marie recently posted..A Day at the Farm

  3. This is a great list of ideas! I think it’s wonderful to offer activities that encourage creativity and imagination.
    Tara from The Magnolia Barn recently posted..Healthy, No Bake Energy Bites

  4. Magnets work so well in the car! I know this sounds silly, but I gave my three year old a cheap box of tissues, and he pulled them all out and thought it was hilarious. He did it several times. Totally worth the dollar it cost me!
    Lauralee recently posted..Elementary Kids Summer Activity: Week One

    1. Doesn’t sound silly to me at all!
      Whatever works when traveling! Mine have pulled tissues out at home; I just stuff them back in and figure they’re just as good! :)

  5. These are some great ideas!
    Margo recently posted..Menu for the Week of June 2nd

  6. great idea! we are headed out tonight for the weekend and I’m thinking about what I can bring along. This gave me some ideas
    Melinda@LookWhatMomFound…andDadtoo recently posted..Popsicle Stick People #kids #craft #KidsintheKitchen

    1. I hope you have a safe and wonderful trip! :)

  7. Great ideas!

    We use colored pencils in place of crayons because of the hot Texas sun.
    Sara Phillips recently posted..Kids in the Kitchen: Randomness

    1. Colored pencils are a great substitute for crayons in hotter areas! :)

  8. We are going on a road trip this month and I have been trying to think of what the kids might enjoy doing in the car. Thank you for all of the great ideas! I like the idea of splitting up the supplies into individual bags.
    Stacy Sharpe recently posted..Paint and Picinics

  9. Great Post! Thank you for linking up at Family Fun Friday at

    Diane recently posted..Best Ever Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

    1. Thank you! :)
      Have a great week!

  10. I love the use of baking trays and magnets, such a simple and great idea!
    Emma (My Little 3 and Me) recently posted..Father’s Day Card – A Monster Hug!

    1. And you can find some cute magnets! Or, even make them yourselves if you print off the computer and glue them to magnet backs.

  11. I love these traveling entertainment tips.

    I especially love the Post-in Note idea. How simple, fun and affordable.

    And those lap trays are awesome too!

    Thanks so much for linking up last week. My readers loved it. Check out your feature here:

    1. Kids just love sticking up their artwork — this is an easy way they can do it in the car!

      Thanks for featuring me! :)

  12. Some great ideas.
    Popping over from pin it party.

  13. Lots of great ideas – I especially love the bracelets. Thanks for joining in the Monday Parenting Pin it Party.

    1. Thanks! I’m putting it all to the test this week! :)
      Thanks for hosting!

  14. I’m visiting from the Montessori Monday Linkup. Thanks for the tips! We’re taking a road trip with our 3 kids in a couple of weeks. I’m definitely going to use the cookie sheet and magnets idea!

    1. We are about to put all the ideas to the test this week…. :)

      I hope you have a wonderful trip!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Thanks for sharing these! I hadn’t thought of how very useful a cookie sheet could be on a long trip! I’ll definitely be employing that strategy soon!

    Tina recently posted..Thoughts on Eugene Peterson’s The Jesus Way – Introduction and Chapter 1

  16. I always travel with my kids almost every weekend. I love the idea about keeping books in the car. I think I need to keep several book in the car so that I don’t have to find and bring one every time we go travel.
    Honeybee recently posted..Wendy’s Weight Loss Success Story You Haven’t Read

    1. We have some that stay in the car at all times. I try to change them every month or so. :)

  17. Great idea for the little one! Right now, we’re entertaining him with Power Rangers or anything with fishes, turtles, etc. on youtube while we’re driving. When he gets older, we will definitely use these and store in the car. Thanks so much for sharing with us @ My Favorite Posts SHOW OFF Weekend Blog Party!


    Jessica recently posted..What Being A Dad Means to Me by Kristina from Self Health Web

  18. Great tips and ideas! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!
    Carrie recently posted..A Spanish Day–Around the World in 12 Dishes

  19. Wonderful ideas! Will be putting these to work soon – we also love to travel with our felt boards :)
    Claudette recently posted..Yellow Block Addition

    1. Yes, felt boards are awesome in the car! :)

  20. Congratulations! Your post was featured at the Mommy Monday Link Party. Please stop by to grab your “I’ve Been Featured” button and link up again!
    Amy Delmanto recently posted..Mommy Monday Week #10

    1. Thank you so much! :) Definitely stopping in again this week!

  21. Brilliant! I need ideas for our upcoming 11 hour drive to visit the grandparents. Did you find the magnetic dress up dolls at the Dollar Tree, and was it recently? My girls would love, love them!

    1. I found the magnetic dress up dolls at the Dollar General, for a dollar. They seem to have them every time I go, or something similar. :)

      Have a great trip!

  22. Thank you!! :)

  23. This is very similar to how I travel with the kids. I don’t have a tablet or a portable DVD player, so keeping them entertained with activities and books is key!
    Jennifer Fischer recently posted..Best of 2013: Inspired Giving with The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    1. Mine always look forward to the surprises I have in store when I pack for a vacation! :)

  24. Great ideas. We’re actually heading out of town tomorrow four our first trip of the summer. I avoid stickers now though because there are still stickers stuck to my one window that I need to scrape off sometime. Safe travels this summer.
    Angela recently posted..The Selfish vs the Selfless Mother

    1. LOL — Yes! Stickers tend to do that! We had a strict rule that they could only go on paper…but I do have a few that somehow wound up on the windows… :)

      Have a great summer!

  25. These are great! I’m definitely going to look for some magnet books and I’m “stealing” that Cheerios on pipe cleaners idea too. Even if my daughter doesn’t make the bracelet, the snack alone will keep her happy for a bit. :)

    1. The Cheerios and pipe cleaner idea remains a hit here for that reason — craft and snack all in one! :)

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