Long car journeys can be off putting with a toddler in the back – especially if you are the driver with no other adult passenger. Whereas on a plane, you can easily get up and walk about to distract, it’s just that little bit harder when you can’t just pull over for a break. We’ve done some long cross country rides and been stuck in some traffic jams extending journeys too! With that in mind, I’ve compiled some of the best toddler road trip toys for car journeys. The criteria which helped me decide which ones to try on a family road trip were:
- Can the toy be reached easily if dropped?
- Has it got lots of parts to it?
- Can it be done independently?
- Can I easily have a few spare (eg crayons) in the front if some do get dropped?
When you are searching for toddler travel toys for road trips or flights, the emphasis slightly shifts to keeping your toddler entertained in car with more stimulating and engaging toys which they can independently play with.. Having a range of car activities for toddlers is important as their attention span is limited.
Long road trips with toddlers will still mean several pit stops, but will give you plenty of opportunities to swap over toys, refill any snacks and stretch everyones legs. Car travel with toddlers can be more fun for you too, as they can engage in singalongs or simple I-spy games and have more dexterity for the following road trip activities and toddler toys for the car.
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Toddler Toys for Car Trips
Lacing boards provide a compact and educational car trip toy for toddlers to take on the road; they especially help with fine motor skills. car trip toys for toddlers
An alternative to classic stickers are gel window stickers or gel clings which are great for traveling with toddlers in the car. These are reusable, mess free and very handy if your little one can see and reach the car window to stick them on. (One for toddlers who won’t try and put these in their mouths!) For Amazon worldwide prices see here/ for an alternative range of window clings see here.
One of our favourite road trip activities for toddlers are the mess free kind. Melissa and Doug do a great range of books which use a pen filled with water to colour in the pictures on each page called Melissa & Doug Water WOW. These are mess free and unlimited colouring! For the latest prices on Amazon worldwide see here. For an alternative range see here.
4. Reading books like Fox’s Socks, Hide and Seek Pig
You may well have an older sibling road trip who will read to your toddler or flap books such as Julia Donaldson ‘Lift the Flap’ series. Fox’s Socks, Hide and Seek Pig etc. or books with texture can help to make this a quiet, solo activity for your little one too. An audio book could also be great if all passengers don’t mind listening to toddler-friendly stories.
A friend recently recommended this Loobani Wooden Cheese Activity Toy for a road trip with a toddler. This wooden threading block which is great for developing fine motor skills – plus it’s a very quiet travel toy. For more information on Amazon see here.
Crayola Color Wonder are a great option for a car travel with toddler activity, as they are mess free and have large pens for little hands. On a road trip with our 2 year old, these ‘Magic’ pens which only show the colour on the special colouring book and not on clothes, seats etc were a life save – she was not covered in pen or paint for once! For more information see here. For alternative crayola color wonder sets, these are available if you are based in the USA.
If you have a tray table in your car or a travel drawing tray, triangular crayons like these from Melissa & Doug, don’t roll away. These are are always on our list when travelling with a toddler! Genius invention and perfect to add to your list of car trip toys for toddlers.
Magnetic Play sets open up and creates a scene with characters and accessories that stick to the board! There are several magnetic toys for toddlers in this series from construction sites, dinosaurs, pirates, ballet, mermaids and lots of other choices for boys and girls. A magnetic board is perfect for those long car trips with toddlers.
These reusable puffy stickers sets are great to include as part of your collection of travel activities for toddlers in the car – especially as they can be used again and again. Let kids create transportation adventures again and again! The sturdy background board (with built-in handle!) folds to neatly store it all away. For prices in an alternative USA store see here and to compare on Amazon see here.
Free car activities
Borrow stories on CD from the library. If you have several kids, borrow multiple copies of each book so each can follow the story long with the CD, or download on to your phone and connect to your car.
Fun Toddler Car Games for a long car ride
Games for the car for toddlers and preschoolers could include, In My Bag I Packed…A simple memory travel game for toddlers, but great to add a little competition which is easily accessible for all participants on the road trip by listing something you would pack in a bag you take on holiday or vacation and then repeating this but inserting your own addition afterwards.
Other classic travel games for toddlers include I-Spy, the first person to spot a green car, 5 sheep, etc.
You can incorporate some challenge by using the alphabet to list objects. A perfect travel activity for kids as it can help you all to remember those last few bits that you might have forgotten to pack for long car rides with toddlers and will need to grab on arrival.
10. MORE Travel Toys Ideas For Long Car Rides With Toddlers.
Traveling with toddlers in the car can be distracting, so here are a few extra toddler car activities and ideas if you need to keep them busy.
- Fuzzy Felt or similar
- Melissa and Doug reusuable stickers.
- Interactive Apps – See my separate post on Apps.
- Magnetic boards games
- Finger Puppets
- Toddler busy bags are also available ready-made online so here are a few options for you to choose from and some suggestions below of how to make your own!
- For some more screen free ideas see here
Also consider how long each journey will be, where is best to stop for a break and what other provisions you will need for your road trip with toddlers. , or if you need a toddler travel stroller for your destination?
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