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Best Toys for Car Trips & Long Road Trips

Even a quick 30 minute drive can seem longer with kids, but if you are planning a car trip to the coast or countryside or a long road trip with kids, then you may feel a little stressed about entertaining little ones -or keeping the peace between siblings! Having a few of these ideas and recommendations for the best toys for car trips, may mean you’ll gain some stress-free peace and quiet on the journey!

In a hurry? Here are our top picks for:

Best Toys for Car Journeys

The best toys for car rides are ideally fairly quiet (to keep you sane!) do not have small parts which can be easily lost, attach to the car seat (if you are traveling with a baby or toddler) and entertain. Tablets have their role, but they are not everyone, plus there is always the inevitable moment when an app won’t work or it won’t charge – cue meltdown!

Whereas being on a plane or train allows a degree of flexibility, as you can rush to pick up a fallen travel toy, play a group game, or whip out another activity and model how to do it, a road trip with kids takes a little more forethought.

A longer car trip with kids can entail play with their imagination, solo play, lots of songs, audio books or nursery rhymes on repeat and a few travel toys and games to keep boredom at bay. Oh and lots of snacks. All the snacks!

But whether you are on a 30 minute drive or on an epic long journey with kids, here are lots of toys and ideas to help make your car trip with kids pass peacefully. From baby toys for car rides to ‘No Mess’ toys and toys to keep energetic kids occupied, we have you covered!

Best Toys For Car Trips With a Baby

When you are traveling with a baby, it is super tricky to pass them toys without being distracted, so the ideal infant toys for car rides are one which either attach to the back headrest when they are rear seated and/or attach to the car seat are ideal. (For some useful tips on how to plan your road trip with a baby see here.)

Baby travel toys for car journeys:

Baby toys for car headrest: One of our staples for every car journey, was a toy mirror. This is one of the toys to keep in the car as it easily attaches to the headrest. There are various types to choose from, which have similar features.

Baby Einstein Mirror

We initially had this car headrest toy from Baby Einstein which has various sounds, lights and learning mode for colours and shapes. There are 4 play modes: melodies and lights, melodies only, lights only, and learning mode and you can set it to play for 10, 20, 30 or 60 minutes. The downside is you can’t control it once you are driving.

Munchkin Brica Mirror – owl version

Friends have tried the Munchkin Brica Mirror owl version above – (click here for the UK Firefly version) which has a remote control handset which can be attached to the driver’s seat. The convenient remote lets you control the music, lights and volume – all from the driver’s seat. Win!

You can choose the entertaining mode and your baby is introduced to patterns of light dancing behind the mirror in time to the lively songs. Long day or a night drive and a tired baby? This car activity toy can be switched to soothing mode and help your child drift to sleep as relaxing music plays and lights softly twinkle and fade in and out which can be a huge bonus on road trips with infants! (To compare prices on Walmart see here.)

Freddie the Firefly

The clip on car seat toys we used were the ever popular Lamaze toys. They offer a wide range of clip on toys which are multi sensory with various textures, including a teether. Our particular favorite was Freddie the Firefly.

The great thing about this style of car seat toy is that they can also hook or clip on to strollers and bags whenever you are out and about. There is a huge range of these Lamaze infant toys for car seats, including a Sharpei dog, Captain Calamari, a dragon, a moose and so many more. For a similar range see the Walmart selection too.

Link Rings

Colourful Link Rings are great to attach to a car seat and convert other toys to be used in the car. They can also double up as a car seat activity toy themselves and act as a teether with different textures or a rattle.

Manhattan Whoozit

The Manhattan Whoozit car seat and stroller travel toy is a good value toy with hidden noisemakers including rattles, squeakers, and crinkle paper perk up little tags with various shapes to help keep busy hands occupied. The Whoozit is one of the popular car seat hanging toys for good reason. It’s fun, versatile and easy to attach to a car seat, bag or stroller with a fabric hook and loop closure. For worldwide Amazon here. or USA Walmart here.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Activity Toy

An alternative to a clip on toy is a car seat activity bar. This Very Hungry Caterpillar activity toy is a great introduction to the classic book by Eric Carle. This developmental toy features music, rattle, crinkle sounds and textured teethers. There are a huge variety of car seat spiral toys, that coil around the car seat handle too. Either option are perfect whether you are looking for forward facing or rear facing car seat toys. For prices on Walmart see here.

Travel Activity Bag

If you have a one year old or young toddler or one who enjoys sensory play; creating an activity mat covered in buttons, different materials and things for them to flick, twist, scrunch and tap can be great. Although time consuming to create, this can be something to keep until your little one gets older. Alternatively, a Montessori style travel activity bag like the one above does the trick.

Some unique baby toys for car seats includes filling sandwich bags with colorful slime and a few little plastic toys. This lets older babies and toddlers squidge and squeeze with their exploratory hands… just make sure there is no way for the liquid to leak, otherwise this won’t be quite the mess free toy you envisaged!

Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle

The Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether Grasping Activity Toy, is another one of our favorite baby toys for car travel. We were bought it as a gift when our eldest was first born, so it was well used! It doesn’t look like much, but it keeps little ones engaged; they loved chewing on it, sliding the balls round and squishing it. To compare prices on Walmart if you are in the USA see here.

Tiny Love Spin Ball

Tiny Love Spin Ball. This is a simple sensory toy which makes a click clack sound with its moving segments and also has a mirrored inside. The bobbles on the outside are great to develop the sense of touch, there is a mirrored interior surface and bright colours on the outside. My little one has played with since about 4 months and at a year old still loved it. Simple but does the job. For 6 months plus. For more information see here

‘Lift the Flap’ Books  

Books can be tricky for a young baby to turn the pages, but an older sibling may be able to help and read to your toddler or help them with ‘flap’ books such as Julia Donaldson ‘Lift the Flap’ series. Fox’s Socks, Hide and Seek Pig etc.  Flap or cloth books make ideal toddler toys for car trips with lots of things to look and point at.

Alternatively, books with texture can work as options to take when you are packing some baby toys for car journeys. An audio book can also be great if all passengers don’t mind listening to baby and toddler-friendly stories.

Melissa & Doug K’S My First Activity Book 8-Page Soft Book

This machine washable soft cloth book is one of the best toys for car travel for babies and toddlers as it is so light, portable and engaging. With activities such as buttoning, buckling, peek-a-boo, counting, matching and telling time, it helps promote sensory development, fine motor skills, color recognition, and other early learning skills. For more information and latest prices see here.

Have you any other suggestions of baby toys for car trips? See ideas for toddler toys for car rides below!

Best Toys for Car Trips With A Toddler & Preschoolers

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 or engaging toys but to still have a selection as their attention span is still 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.

Gel re-usable window stickers 

An alternative to classic stickers are gel window stickers or gel clings. These are reusable, mess free and very handy if you 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 the Walmart range of window clings see here.

Melissa & Doug Water WOW

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 the Walmart range see here.

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.

Wooden Cheese Activity Toy

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. To compare prices on Walmart see here.

Crayola Color Wonder

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, Walmart have these available.

Triangular Crayons

If you have a tray table in your car or a drawing tray, triangular crayons like these from Melissa & Doug, don’t roll away. Genius!

The Imaginetics magnetic board opens up and creates a scene with characters and accessories that stick to the board! The photo above construction sites, but there are also dinosaurs, pirates, ballet, mermaids and lots of other choices for boys and girls. Travel toys for toddlers #familytravel

Imaginetics Magnetic Board

The Imaginetics magnetic board opens up and creates a scene with characters and accessories that stick to the board! The photo above shows construction sites, but there are also dinosaurs, pirates, ballet, mermaids and lots of other choices for boys and girls.

Magnetic Travel Tanagram

Another option for one of the best toys for car trips for pre-schoolers is a travel tanagram set. This educational travel game is made of wooden magnetic blocks with non-toxic paint. Kids can look at the pictures and replicate them on the back of the board which is magnetic. For more information and latest prices see here.

Reusable Puffy Sticker Play Set Travel Toy

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 on Walmart see here and to compare on Amazon see here.

Fun 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.

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! ong car rides with toddlers

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.

Have you any car trips with toddlers planned? Let me know what worked best for you in the comments below!

Best Toys for Car Journeys for School Kids

Melissa and Doug ‘on the go’ Secret Decoder Activity

My eldest has the full version of this which was bought for her as gift but these travel versions are ideal for those aged around 7-9. This bundle includes: the Secret Decoder Game Book, with 18 pages of codes to crack and whodunits to solve; The Case of the Slippery Flippers, with mazes, seek-and-find pictures, puzzles, and word scrambles to solve; and The Case of the Runaway Ruby, with challenges to help find a missing ruby.

Everything stores neatly within the tab-close covers–perfect for spies on the go. It’s a one time use game, with ‘spy tools’ to help decode and solve the mystery. For more information and latest prices see Amazon here or compare prices on Walmart

Mini board game set

One of the best toys for the car for older siblings are magnetic board games. Many companies will sell a 6 in 1 magnetic games set which is fantastic if you are lacking in space in your car or bag. These travel games often include: magnetic travel checkers, noughts and crosses (tic tac toe), chess, solitaire and much, much more. This magnetic travel games compendium could be great for the back of the car or too entertain for a whole holiday as there is a different game for each night. Walmart has this option available too.

50 Road Trip games. 

50+ travel games in one compact deck of cards. The recommended age varies depending on the game but some games start for kids as young as 4 years old.

Wikki Stix Travel Set

The Wikki Stix travel set includes a 12-page activity book of ideas and illustrations. There are also two mini play packs with connect-the-dot activities all in a red carry case. A great quiet hands on travel activity which is made with non toxic food grade wax and hand knitting yarn.

Best Quiet Toys for Car Trips

Quiet toys or toys which keep even the most energetic kids occupied are always a winner on a long journey. Some of the best toys for car journeys are ones that are creative, sensory or brain teasers like the suggestions below.

Melissa & Doug K’S My First Activity Book 8-Page Soft Book

This machine washable soft cloth book is one of the best toys for car travel for babies and toddlers as it is so light, portable and engaging. With activities such as buttoning, buckling, peek-a-boo, counting, matching and telling time, it helps promote sensory development, fine motor skills, color recognition, and other early learning skills. For more information and latest prices see here.

Melissa and Doug ‘on the go’ Secret Decoder Activity

My eldest has the full version of this which was bought for her as gift but these travel versions are ideal for those aged around 7-9. This bundle includes: the Secret Decoder Game Book, with 18 pages of codes to crack and whodunits to solve; The Case of the Slippery Flippers, with mazes, seek-and-find pictures, puzzles, and word scrambles to solve; and The Case of the Runaway Ruby, with challenges to help find a missing ruby.

Everything stores neatly within the tab-close covers–perfect for spies on the go. It’s a one time use game, with ‘spy tools’ to help decode and solve the mystery. For more information and latest prices see Amazon here or compare prices on Walmart

Wikki Stix Travel Set

The Wikki Stix travel set includes a 12-page activity book of ideas and illustrations. There are also two mini play packs with connect-the-dot activities all in a red carry case. A great quiet hands on travel activity which is made with non toxic food grade wax and hand knitting yarn.

Best No Mess Toys for Car Trips

Aqua Doodle Travel Set

The Aqua Doodle Travel set means kids can create fun filled no mess drawings on the go! Travel Doodle is a soft, portable drawing toy that leaves no trace behind, making an ideal choice of toddler toys for the car. Just add water and draw in red or blue! See the latest prices on Walmart here. or worldwide prices on Amazon here.

Crayola Wonder

Crayola Wonder are perfect for an on-the-go creative activity for kids! Various sets feature a Color Wonder Pad and Color Wonder Markers in a handy storage case. See the latest prices on Walmart here and Amazon worldwide here.

Melissa & Doug Water Wow!

This re-usuable 3-Pack flip-pack is full of mess free educational activities such as colors, numbers and mazes – all to be completed with a water filled pen. See the latest prices on Amazon here or buy on Walmart here

Other Essentials For Long Car Trips With Kids

When you are traveling there are some baby and toddler road trip essentials to consider, comfort is a big one as well as frequent breaks.

Babies should not sleep in car seats longer than is necessaryCar seats are designed to keep babies safe while travelling, not as a main sleeping place.  Infant healthcare professionals, safety experts and most car manufacturers recommend that babies should not be in a car seat for longer than 2 hours at a time and they should be taken out frequently.

Some things to bring on a road trip for kids that you may have forgotten to pack are below:

Car Window Blind

Comfort on a long road trip is an important consideration too. Even if you have tinted car windows, bright light can still be a distraction, so consider some window blinds for the rear seats too.

Travel Neck Pillow

Travel neck pillows are useful for those long car rides with kids. This Trunki travel neck pillow supports little heads for those over two. There are hidden magnets so the travel pillow connects under the chin to form a soft and supportive cushion – which stops your child’s head from rolling forward. For more information and latest prices see here.

Pee pad for car seat

If you are potty training or have a newly trained toddler, then a piddle pad or disposable baby changing mat will do the trick.

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