32 Road Trip Activities For Toddlers To Keep Them Engaged

Going on a family road trip is always memorable. But your toddler may get bored easily if you are driving for long and may get restless during the journey. Here are some car activities/road trip activities for toddlers that will keep them engaged. Long road trips by car can be a lot of fun if you plan ahead. Though it might get challenging, planning some activities can make all the difference. Your best savior for such trips with a toddler can be easy and mess-free car activities that can keep them engaged for a long time and allow you to sit back and relax. So, keep reading and exploring the best car activities for toddlers that are easy to plan and can make your journey enjoyable.

Keep reading to know about the best car activities for toddlers that are easy to plan and can make your journey enjoyable.

In This Article

32 Car Activities For Toddlers

1. Search and find books

Before planning a road trip with toddlers, get a few search-and-find books from the library. These books encourage children to find hidden pictures in the illustrations. So, while you sit back and relax in the car, your children can get busy spying hidden pictures in the books.

2. Writing tablet

LCD writing tablets can be your best bet during a car trip. They come with a stylus attached to them, so there is no fear of losing or dropping it in the car. And, your toddlers are going to enjoy doodling their time away with these no-mess writing tablets.

3. Sticker books

Sticker books

Image: Shutterstock

Stickers are an all-time favorite of toddlers. They love pulling them out from the books and pasting them on different surfaces. Make sure you get reusable stickers because you would not want them to be pasted all over your car.

4. Screen time

It’s okay to give toddlers some screen time when they are on a long trip. Screen time works best when it’s dark outside, and there’s nothing much to see. Download a few kid-friendly movies beforehand. Make sure your device is adequately charged.

Quick tip
Coco, Finding Dory, Madagascar, Hotel Transylvania, and Frozen are some movie recommendations to consider watching with your toddler when traveling.

5. Worksheets

Worksheets

Image: Shutterstock

You need to plan this activity ahead of your trip. Take prints or make some toddler-friendly worksheets. Hand them over to your child during the trip. These worksheets may ensure that you have some restful moments for yourself.

6. Vehicle spotting

If your toddlers enjoy looking out of the window, this can be the perfect travel activity. Carry a printout with the pictures of various road vehicles and tick them off as children find them. Help them recognize and name the vehicles they saw.

7. Water painting

This is a great mess-free activity. All you need is a paint-with-water coloring book and water paint brushes. During the journey, fill the paint brushes with water and hand over the books to children. Toddlers are excited when the color appears on their books without using any paint.

8. Cookie sheet activity

Carry a cookie sheet and some magnetic alphabets, numbers, and puzzles to your next car trip. Let your toddlers have fun putting these magnets on the cookie sheet. You can make this activity a lot more interesting and educational by asking them to create certain patterns or form spellings with the magnets.

9. Play music

Music may work like magic for some children. If your toddlers enjoy listening to  songs, make a playlist of their favorite ones for the road trip. Then, play them in the car and let children enjoy singing along. Some songs can even be soothing enough to calm your toddlers and put them to sleep. A well-rested child is always happier.

10. New books

Nothing can beat the excitement of book reading! Picture books work best for toddlers, so head to the library and stock on some new picture books. These will keep your children engaged during the trip.

Point to consider

Choose books that aid children in learning various life skills besides imparting knowledge. Here are some popular picks- “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, “Curious George” by H.A. Rey, “Peek-a-Who?” by Nina Laden, and “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss.

11. Glowsticks

This is a simple yet effective activity for toddlers. Glowsticks are lovely entertainers when it gets dark outside. Carry them on your road trip and watch children have fun waving these sticks.

12. Audiobooks

Sometimes it is not easy to carry too many books in the car, so audiobooks can come to the rescue. Download some interesting audiobooks for toddlers and play them in the car. Listening to audiobooks is a great way to learn new vocabulary and stay entertained.

13. Flashcards

Your toddlers will need an adult’s help in this activity. If you have flashcards lying around your house, it is good to get them for the trip. The activity will ensure that the children learn while having fun in the car.

14. Scratch art

These art and craft books are handy. They have blackened pages that children scratch with a stick to reveal the colored pictures beneath. It’s a fun toddler car activity and does not create any mess.

15. Stamping activity

Carry paper and stamp pads with non-toxic, washable ink. Hand these to your toddlers during the trip. It’s easy to get children busy with this engaging activity. They may enjoy creating a unique art using stamps. However, you must ensure toddlers know they are not allowed to stamp all over the car.

16. Counting activity

In this activity, children count everything they see during the trip, such as animals, bikes, cars, and so on. This is a simple game and does not require any prior planning. However, there’s a lot of learning, practice, and fun involved.

17. Forgotten toys

It is interesting to see how toddlers suddenly become curious about old toys when they find them after a long time. So, before starting the car trip, hunt for these forgotten toys in the house. For an extra surprise, wrap them with foil or paper and present them to children during the trip. It may not just surprise them but also keep them busy for some time.

Along with an old toy, you can also buy a new toy that can keep your curious toddler engaged. Alida, a mother and a blogger, did just that when she was on a road trip with her daughter. She says, “While you’re at the dollar store, also pick up a New Toy or two…. we grabbed a slinky and a pretend cell phone. For $2, it was worth a shot, and she ended up loving both! I combined the new toys with a few we already owned, including a few toys from the very bottom of the toy bin that she had forgotten about and would be ‘new’ and exciting (i).”

18. Quiet time

Toddlers need to rest during a long trip. So, carry their favorite pillows, blankets, and stuffed toys. Create a quiet time where they get cozy and relax. Most children might not sleep, but staying quiet while cloud watching might help them feel rested.

19. Colored tapes

Colored tapes

Image: Shutterstock

Carry some colored masking tapes and a plastic tray. Let toddlers have fun sticking and tearing the tapes from the tray. This activity is going to keep them interested for a long time

20. Calculators

Most toddlers love calculators. Buy cheap calculators and offer them to children on road trips. They would love punching the numbers over and over again. Many children even pretend to use calculators as phones.

21. Guessing game

This activity needs an adult’s involvement, but it is a joy to play together and spend some travel time having fun. For young children, you can make an animal’s sound and they can guess the animal’s name. For slightly older children, you can describe food or place and ask them to guess what it is.

Quick tip
Apart from sounds, you can also try guessing pictures, a mystery word, a hidden object, or a person.

22. Question jar

Before the trip begins, prepare a list of toddler-friendly questions, such as their favorite food or something that makes them happy. Write these questions on small slips of paper and put them in a jar. During the trip, you can have a fun discussion with your child based on these questions. This activity will help both of you learn more about each other.

23. Don’t laugh

In this game, an older person plays with the toddler. The game is about controlling your laughter while the other person makes you laugh by any means. The one who can control the laughter for the longest is the winner. Play this game with your toddler and see what they do to make you laugh. This is a fun activity with loads of laughter involved.

24. Storytelling

Children of all ages enjoy listening to stories. So, a car trip can be a good opportunity to tell stories of your childhood adventures, family and friends, or any other interesting topic. You may even encourage your children to narrate their stories to you. This activity will help you establish a great connection with your toddlers.

25. Character toys

A small bag of character toys helps keep your toddlers busy for a long time during the car trip. It is amusing to see how children become a part of those characters in their imagination and stay engrossed in pretend plays for many hours.

26. Buckle and lace book

This book is a toy that may entertain toddlers during long car trips and helps develop their fine motor skills. In this activity, children thread the lace through holes and play with zips and buckles. Young children find this activity quite fascinating.

27. Mirrors

Toddlers love watching themselves in the mirror. They enjoy making silly faces and creating funny sounds. So, carry a mirror on your road trip and hand them to your little ones when they start getting impatient.

28. Unroll the ribbon

Unrolling spools of ribbon can be an entertaining idea for toddlers. All you have to do is keep rolling them back once they are unrolled, and a lot of your travel time will fly away with your child engaged.

29. Edible necklaces

It is a good idea to thread some snacks such as dried apples or cheerios in the form of a necklace and offer them to toddlers. This creative idea will keep them busy for long because it takes quite some time to eat these unique edible necklaces. However, these necklaces should only be provided under adult supervision.

30. Snacks

Snacks

Image: Shutterstock

Snack time is the favorite part of road trips, and they are a sure-shot way of keeping toddlers busy. Offer them food at some intervals and have some snack stops as well. Carry only healthy, bite-size food, such as raisins, blueberries, cheese, and mini muffins, which are easy to eat and do not create a mess.

31. Word games

If your toddler is learning new words, a road trip can be a good time to play word games. You could ask them to name the things that they see while traveling. You may also give them a letter and ask them to form words out of it. Similarly, you could play with rhyming words and have endless fun.

32. Boogie board

A Boogie board can be a fun activity while traveling. Unlike pen and paper, it leaves no mess. Your toddler can draw or doodle on the electronic board. They can also play simple games like tic-tac-toe. Some digital boards may have preloaded coloring pages. Alternatively, you may draw some outlines and your children can fill them with color.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the benefits of engaging toddlers in age-appropriate activities during a road trip?

Engaging toddlers in age-appropriate activities will help them remain calm, stay entertained, and thereby help prevent boredom during the road trip. Additionally, age-appropriate activities allow learning and developing cognitive, language, and social skills for toddlers and will also help to strengthen the parent-child bond when spending time together during the travel.

2. Why do experts recommend interactive and sensory-based activities for toddlers during road trips?

Interactive and sensory-based activities for toddlers, such as singing together, observing nature, drawing and coloring, sensory play bags, fidgety toys, counting animals, and sensory bottles, are easy to handle during a car drive and will capture the toddlers’ attention for a long period. These activities help kill time and are some of the best educational activities for toddlers.

3. Why is it essential to choose safe and age-appropriate toys and activities for toddlers during travel?

Age-appropriate activities and toys for toddlers cater to their developmental milestones and are made as per their cognitive and physical abilities. In addition, age-appropriate toys ensure a toddler’s safety from choking hazards and sharp edges and promote ease of usage as per their age.

4. What are some tips for ensuring a smooth and enjoyable road trip experience for toddlers and their families?

Pack all the essentials, from toys to snacks, diapers, and clothes. Take frequent small breaks, keep comfortable pillows and blankets, use toddler car seats, and play their favorite music and tunes to keep the toddler calm during the trip. Choose a destination that is nearby and has good road and weather conditions. This ensures a smooth and enjoyable road trip experience for toddlers and their families.

5. Why is parental involvement crucial in making road trip activities more enjoyable and meaningful for toddlers?

Since you will be spending considerable time with your toddler during a road trip, your involvement will ensure the toddler’s safety, promote interaction, provide them with comfort, and help strengthen parent-child bonding. It is known that traveling is a part of education, and parental involvement ensures maximum learning.

Now you don’t have to worry about planning a trip with your toddlers because you have an endless list of car/road trip activities for toddlers. Road trip games help make memories and enjoy a long journey without feeling bored. So these games will keep you and the children entertained throughout the trip as you engage in laughter and fun interactions. Now gather the supplies you may need for the games above and hit the road. Craft beautiful memories with your child to cherish for the rest of your life.

Infographic: Choosing Healthy Road Trip Snacks For Toddlers

Carrying food from home for toddlers can be a good option while traveling to avoid making unhealthy choices. Carry a cooler if possible to keep food such as whole fruits or juices fresh for a longer time. Save this infographic about the best snack options for your children to plan your next road trip better.

snack ideas for toddlers on a road trip (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Fill the trip with art activities like scratch art, coloring tapes, or sticker books.
  • Keep them invested with worksheets, vehicle spotting, or flashcards.
  • Play audiobooks or carry along a few books to keep your bibliophilic child happy.
  • Make snacktime interesting by creating edible necklaces.
car ativities/road trip activities for toddler_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Engage your toddler on road trips with a DIY learning book. Activities like matching and coloring with stickers make for fun and educational entertainment!

Personal Experience: Source

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Elisa Yi
Elisa YiEarly childhood educator
Elisa has 17 years of experience in early childhood education as a teacher and a director. With a passion to work with young kids, she did her post graduation in Education and received her online teaching certificate from California State University, East Bay.

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Deepa Thomas
Deepa ThomasMA (English)
Deepa Rachel Thomas holds a master’s degree in English from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. She has done a certification course in Child Development and worked as a mentor for young children at an NGO that focuses on helping children develop their language and soft skills.

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Rohit Garoo
Rohit GarooBSc, MBA
Rohit Garoo is a writer-turned-editor with over 9 years of experience in content writing, editing, and content marketing. He did his bachelors in Science at St. Xavier's College, Hyderabad, and masters in Business Administration at Osmania University.

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Trisha worked as a schoolteacher for three years before taking up professional writing in 2021. She completed her masters in English from the University of Calcutta and bachelors in Education from the University of Burdwan.

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