This post has been sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company.
Summer is the time for road trips! Whether it’s a couple hours to visit friends and family or a full day driving cross-country, traveling with toddlers can seem daunting. My parents live in New England, a 12 hour drive from us and our dear friends are 2.5 hours south, both drives we make relatively often with two little ones in tow.
With more road trips with toddlers and babies under our belt than I’d like to count, I’ve learned the most important part about any road trip with kids is the snacks. I like to keep a variety on hand but our favorite for the last few months (at home and in the car) have been peanut butter filled pretzels (and you can get a huge jar at Sam’s club – just look for the Member’s Mark brand). We also always travel with plenty of water in straw water bottles but I like having a few other drink options for rest stops and recently introduced Lincoln to the Honest Kid’s Kids® juice boxes and I love that they have less sugar than the leading kids juice drinks.
Good snacks trump any game any time, but, when you’ve run out of snacks (or your toddler isn’t hungry), here are our favorite road trip games to get you through (and hey, you might just find you enjoy it!):
Favorite Car Games for Road Trips with Toddlers
- Find the colors of the rainbow: Just like the alphabet game but geared toward toddlers who may not be so good at spotting letters on the go. Using objects inside or outside of the car, hunt for things until you find something in every color.
- Letter hunt: Depending on the age of your toddler, hunt for letters on signs and buildings as you drive. You probably want to ditch the traditional game of finding the letters in alphabetical order and just focus on finding whatever letters they can see.
- I spy: You can search for things outside the car or, with a little prep, you can play this with things already in the vehicle. Place stickers in various places (within sight from the carseat) and let your toddler search for them as you drive.
- Pretend Cars: Our favorite small toy for car rides is another small car. Lincoln can pretend he’s driving, determine where his car is going, and drive it up and down the arm of his carseat. Encourage your toddler to take his car on his own roadtrip around the backseat.
- Counting objects (cows, other cars, buildings, clouds, bridges, signs): Hunt for black cars and after you find ten, dole out a pretzel to your toddler. This game of snacking stretches out your snacks for a long time and makes the game that much more fun. We love peanut butter filled pretzels for this one (a little bit of protein but still no mess).
- Record Using Reusable sticker pads: Let your toddler keep track of all the blue signs you pass by adding a sticker to a page. Or maybe you count trucks instead. Whatever you do, have your toddler add a sticker to record each time you spot something. You can also just use regular stickers and a pad of paper or a magnadoodle writing board.
- Remember when: Just talking to your toddler is a great way to engage them on long drives. Take a trip down memory lane and share your favorite memories of them. You can tell them about when they were born, when they were a baby, or other fun things they don’t remember. You can also focus on experiences they do remember and get them involved in telling the stories.
- Quiet game: This one needs a reward, but hand out snacks for each time increment that passes without noise from the backseat. You can pretend you’re sneaking by a dragon and need to be very quiet.
A few other road trip with toddlers tips:
- Some of our favorite toys for the road include lace-up cards, quiet books, and the magna doodle. Then there are the coloring books with invisible markers (the markers don’t work on anything except the special coloring paper in the book!). I’ve also been told pipecleaners and sticky sticks are great and we just picked up some silly putty for our next 12 hour cross country drive.
- Incorporate snacks into games and dole them out slowly. And bring more snacks than you think you’ll need.
- We’ve had our best results when we start super early and the kids go back to sleep in their carseats for the first part of the drive. Plus, psychologically it is just easier when by 11 am you are halfway through your trip than when its 4 pm and you still have 6 hours left.
- Depending on the ages of your baby/toddler, consider a picnic blanket. Some of my favorite road trip memories are breaking it out on the small patch of grass at a rest stop, next to the gas station, and letting Lincoln crawl around to get some wiggles out (with plenty of funny looks from passerbys).