Our kids have become seasoned long distance travelers over the last 3 and a half years as we have taken nearly ELEVEN 1200+ mile road trips (still not sure what were we thinking).
We knew before we hit the road full-time that we really didn’t want to rely on screen time to occupy their boredom and antsy behavior. Realizing that it would have been so much easier (for us), if we just turned on a movie or given them an iPad, but we’ve managed to find ways to keep them entertained without it. So here are some of our hacks for entertaining our kids on the road sans the screens.
Find a medium size tote and designate it your travel bag. Then fill it with child entertaining things (ideas below), and ONLY bring said things out to play with on travel days.
Not that you can do much about this, but the two of them getting older and already having so many miles under their belts certainly helps.
Quiet time after our lunch stop typically leads to nap time, which can be blissful when at home, but near heavenly when in the midst of a multiple day road trip.
Finding snacks that the kids don’t usually get in their everyday lives is a must for us and such a motivator for things we want to do or get done throughout our travels. Applesauce in a pouch is also a favorite, oh to be a kid again…
Buy all the stickers
Amazing how entertained two kids can be with a note pad and stickers. But, seriously stickers are SO expensive! Especially the cool ones that ALL the kids want, thanks Disney… Do not hesitate to clean out the sticker shelves at Dollar Tree. But, take note that all sticker brands are not created equal, trust me. Some will tear too easy, some may not stick well, some will be impossible for them to peel from their backing. However, completely worth it!
Reusable things for the win
Wipe clean books/boards and the Melissa and Doug water wow’s are worth every penny. To get multiple uses from a single purchase is something all parents look for.
I will occasionally grit my teeth and purchase the mess free markers and pages. I still have such a hard time finding these over-priced, single-use coloring pages worth it. Because my kids hardly get them, they love them, of course. Which means, despite my logical reason for detesting them, they do hold an entertainment value.
I usually find various travel activities throughout the year that I put right into our travel tote. The newness of something they’ve never seen before allows for longer periods of relative peace and quiet!
We don’t use these much, because we often travel in more remote areas without cell service available. And I never remember to download episodes before we leave for our trips. But, here are a few of our favorites.
While these games can get SO “old” quickly for us adults, our kids light up when we suggest playing these road trip games. Here’s a few we play often:
-I’m a little animal… or I’m a little machine…
-counting vehicles (when in rural areas)
-license plate search (when on busy roads)
We do have an iPad now that we have started homeschooling, and have started to integrate it into a few of our long travel days. They typically each get 20 minutes for their school apps.
So, if you’re looking for some alternatives or variety in your road trip activities, I hope you’ve found these ideas useful.