Ready to hit the road but simply dreading the impending hours you’ll be stuck in the car with your little one?
Road tripping with a toddler can be a daunting task. On top of trying to maintain their normal routine, it’s not easy to entertain a little one when you’re not in easy arms reach, and they’re strapped into their car seat.
Toddlers are far more alert than babies; more vocal in their needs than older children and have wire-thin patience for sitting still and doing nothing!
Ahead of any road trip with a toddler, you need to be prepared with not just toys but interactive activities to keep your toddler entertained in a car. Toddlers have short attention spans, so having multiple activities lined up that they can quickly jump between is the best strategy.
Read on for some awesome car activities for toddlers and toys that will keep your toddler entertained.
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Car Activities For Toddlers – Perfect For Long Family Road Trips
Have your toddler’s favorite tunes cued up for a sing-along? Singing along to your toddler’s favorite hymns makes them happy. You can also try being goofy to spice up the song and bring that wide smile that always melts your heart in the rearview mirror.
2. Imagination Games
Most toddlers have a knack for unscripted games! Why I can not tell. You can try by starting with a “knock, knock,” and then letting them answer the door. They often come up with creative answers, and the silly twist will keep spiraling.
You can also try these excellent family road trip games – though most your tots need to be a little older to join in.
3. Audio Books
Listening to kid-friendly audiobooks is one of the best toddler road trip ideas. After everyone is tired from talking and singing along, you can all tune in and listen to your toddler’s favorite storybook.
You will need to practice patience as the storybook can be repeated a zillion times before your young one thinks of listening to the next. An example of an excellent audio storybook is Amazing Animal Adventures.
Road trip activities for toddlers are not complete without boxes of snacks.
Snacks are what will make your car trip with toddlers bearable. They are the backbone of your road trip – they are so much more than just food! But remember that you do not need to have many sugary snacks as these will give your young one high energy levels, which you can not handle on a road trip.
With snacks, there will be a lot of spilling; you can curb this by either deciding to have snack stops where you can all stretch a bit. Or you can get your toddler a travel tray or a spill proof cup to minimize the spilling.
Another fun snack idea is making cereal strings. This is a great option if you’ll be making some early starts and need to have breakfast on the move (but be warned, it may cause crumbs!!) – they’re guaranteed to keep your toddler busy for the first leg of your trip at least!
5. Water Painting
Water painting will help entertain your toddler during a road trip, making it one of the best car trip activities for toddlers. Melissa & Doug Water Wow! has been a lifesaver for our tots with reusable water coloring books and a refillable water pen that stores on the cover.
You only need to put a little amount of water in a cup in your child’s cup holder on their car seat, hand them the activity pad, and let them color away their thoughts. These water paintings are mess-free, so you don’t need to worry too much about keeping the interior of your car clean.
6. Puzzles And Shape Sorters
Puzzles that do not include many pieces are great toddler car activities. They will keep your toddler entertained while working to improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Or even better, opt for shape sorter toys, Melissa & Doug have done it again with this brilliant take-along bag sorter toy, ideal for car journeys and keeping your toddler entertained at your destination.
7. The Color Car Game
Your toddler may be too young to play the license plate game in the car, but they are the perfect age for playing along with the color car game. In this color game, you will tell your little one to look for a specific color in other cars. You can ask them to spot the color “red.”
Anytime they see a red car, they will point it out, and you try to reach a certain number before you can switch the color. It’s a great road trip idea for toddlers.
8. Wikki Sticks
Wikki Sticks are great car activities for older toddlers that even your tweens and grown-ups will love. The imagination opportunities are endless, and they can stick to most smooth surfaces.
They come in a handy carry case for travel and scrapbooking. What’s more, they have I.D stickers to personalize the case. No more fights!
If you’re looking for great car activities for three-year-olds, the Magformers got you! They are great STEM toys that will entertain your young one as they build the classic magic ball.
10. Felt Boards & Felt Books
Remember felt boards, anyone? OK. Your toddler’s imagination will come to life as they layer simple felt shapes and wiggly eyes onto a child-sized felt board. It’s a no-mess and travel-friendly toy that your toddler will love as they make up stories—a great road trip idea for toddlers as it will allow them to explore their creativity.
The other option is a take along felt book, this is ideal if you’ll also be making plenty of road side stops and need something small and light for them to take along.
11. Window Clings
Window Cling Stickers are another excellent car trip activity for toddlers. These window cling stickers will offer your toddler all the fun they create fun dinosaur stories, or why not try an under the sea theme if you’re heading to the beach?
For your toddlers to enjoy this fun activity as they road trip, they need to be next to the car windows (though it’s safest in the middle), so you should ensure your child lock is on, or you have an older sibling at the back while traveling.
12. Small Toys
If you have been road tripping with your toddler, you must have learned that the vehicle’s heavy toy trains and cars can act as unfortunate missiles to the other passengers sitting in the car. Toys are great for your toddler.
Therefore miniature toy trains like Thomas and Friends Minis and sensory fidget toys make for the perfect road trip toy. These best car activities for toddlers should not be too small as you do not want toys that choke in the car.
13. Pom Pom Fine Motor Activity
Pom pom grabbing is one of the great car activities for two-year-olds as it improves their fine motor skills. Your toddler will need to use tweezers to move pom poms from one container to another.
You can get the regular or the mini pom pom balls to give your toddler a bit of a challenge, and two easy containers. This one works best if they have a flat surface to work with like a car seat tray table.
14. Road Trip Bingo
A road trip bingo card is a perfect road trip activity for kids. Road trip bingo is a versatile game that will allow your toddler to play repeatedly. It’s a great game involving the driver calling for relevant objects they spot.
The passengers must find the called-out object on their grid and cross it. This is repeated until one passenger crosses all the things in a row.
This can work well in a mixed-aged group as you can have easier things to spot on your toddler’s bingo card and a harder list of things to spot or more items for your pre-schoolers and grade schoolers.
Coming soon – our printable road trip bingo cards for toddlers & preschoolers!
15. License Plate Road Trip Game
Another one that’s great for your older toddler who is learning their numbers and letters. When playing the license plate road trip game, your toddler will be awarded points for spotting license plates from different countries/states. The game’s objective is to spot license plates from as many origins as possible.
The license plate coloring game will keep your toddler busy on a road trip. It involves your little one’s coloring and checking things off as they occupy their minds.
16. Tablets and Educational Apps
OK, we went there. Even if you are normally an electronics-free family at home, you may find long road trips are the ideal time to bring in some screen-based entertainment.
We found it best to wait until our children were of an age where they could comfortably wear volume-controlled headphones before introducing screen-based activities – primarily as they can cause a distraction to the driver if tablets are played out loud.
Remember, you may not have Wi-Fi on your journey, so ensure all the apps and videos you would like to use are pre-loaded before your journey commences.
Do use the screen sparingly, though, especially with toddlers. Have it saved up as a special treat and start with setting boundaries for screen use – starting healthy screen habits early on will last through their childhood years.
More Tips for Your Toddler Road Trip
- Beyond just the entertainment, make sure you check out our complete guide to road tripping with your toddler. It contains loads of handy advice for parents, including items you need to make your child’s journey more comfortable, and our top tips for timing your road trip.
- Never forget an important road trip item again! Be sure to download our ultimate road trip checklist to help you prepare your car and pack for your next family adventure.
© Family Road Trip
© Family Road Trip