Two years ago, our family took an epic road trip up to Michigan, confining a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old in car seats for three days. The miracle? We made it — without medication or any nervous breakdowns. Part of our success came from being well-prepared with several options for backseat entertainment for our girls. Sure, there’s always the DVD route, but kids get tired of television after awhile and welcome other opportunities for fun.
If you’re traveling this summer, here are some great ideas for car or plane entertainment for your kids.
Mudpuppy Magnet Sets
Mudpuppy makes these fantastic portable magnet tin sets, available in themed dolls (like our I Heart NYC set that you see here), as well as a funny face kit, a horse stable, a construction vehicle set and many more. In addition to a great collection of magnets, these kits offer four background options as well as an easy way to store everything.
Homemade Magnet Set
With a camera, a printer and some magnetic sheets (available at any craft store), you can make your own magnet dolls with photos of familiar friends and family. Add a cookie sheet to create a great travel toy for many trips to come. Cookie sheets can double as lap desks for coloring — and you can store them under the seat.
Maileg mice are detailed little critters, a perfect size for travel play and promote hours of make-believe fun. Your kids can name them, dress them, tuck them into their matchbox beds and use their imaginations to make these Maileg mice come to life.
I admit that on our last trip, I played with these as much as the kids. Stockmar beeswax comes in flat strips and a variety of colors that you can mold into whatever you can imagine. It’s mess free and pulls apart so that colors don’t mix.
Melissa and Doug makes a durable Travel Bingo Set with flipping pieces that won’t get lost. With four double-sided game cards that have themes such as city, country and vehicles, your kids will have fun searching out their windows and competing to win.
Mind Teaser Games
Remember the old handheld water games and mind teaser puzzles? Well, these these old-school games will occupy your kids for hours (and keep them quiet)! Try the handheld water ring game or order a whole assortment of brain benders.
Pass the Pigs
One of our favorite games, Pass the Pigs, combines the fun of Yahtzee with a childish twist — the dice are tiny pigs, while the way they land determines your score. All you need is a lap desk and some eager kids — and the next hour of your drive will be a breeze.
A Suitcase of Cars
Pack a small cardboard suitcase with an assortment of small cars (Plan City wooden cars are shown here) to keep them tidy. Use a cookie sheet for a flat surface to create a road. The suitcase also makes it easy to bring these cars into a restaurant for pit stops.
Lapdesk and Coloring Book
Combine a great travel lap tray complete with pockets to store treasures), with favorite coloring books and crayons to keep a little artist busy and quiet in the backseat for hours.
Around for years, Brain Quest educational games are nifty stacks of cards, available for all ages — and provide great questions and interaction for an entire car full of people.
Find It is a hands-on, 3D version of “I Spy.” Kids love the challenge of shaking, tipping and slowly turning the bottle to find a list of hidden treasures. And since it takes a long time to find them all, you’re guaranteed some peaceful driving hours.
Have any great travel games that have worked for your family? Please share!
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