Road Trips with Toddlers (without screen time): Tips and Tricks for an Enjoyable Car Ride

We have gone on our fair share of car rides this year and I thought I would share a couple of the things we do to make the car rides less chaotic! Having two energetic toddlers confined to a car for 5+ hours can be daunting, but we have a few tricks that allow us to make the road trips enjoyable and lets be honest, tolerable 😉

It is probably not a popular opinion, but I am not a huge fan of screen time. For us, it makes my kids become little monsters as soon as we take away screens. I would rather not deal with the mood shift, so we limit screens as much as possible (side note: I do bring tablets in the car and have them just in case we need to pull them out, but we rarely ever do!).

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers:

  1. Melissa and Doug Water Wow and Color Blast: My boys love both Water Wow (reusable which is a huge plus!) and Color Blast. We have used the Water Wow coloring pages on probably 10 trips and they still work! These are mess free and are easy to hold in a carseat. Just make sure you have water to fill up the paintbrushes. The Color Blast is a great option too if you want a mess free marker version.
  2. Bendon Imagine Ink/Crayola Color Wonder: These are along the same lines as the Melissa and Doug, but have more pages and varieties than the M&D (Paw Patrol and Baby Shark, yes please!).
  3. LED sketch pad: We have two of these pads which are a fantastic mess-free activity (just make sure you don’t lose the stylist). Reid loves practicing writing his name and Walker loves to scribble as fast as he can on the pad. If I am sitting in the back with the boys, I will draw shapes to teach Walker or draw different pictures for Reid. They are fun for us adults too!
  4. 100 Things Books: My 4 year old still loves looking at the 100 Different Things books. The 100 Trucks is our family favorite. These keep both boys occupied 🙂
  5. Snacks: Pretty much the best way to keep toddlers occupied is with snacks. While it isn’t the healthiest, on road trips I am a-ok with snacks ruining their dinner! We personally love Trader Joe’s Bambas, any variety of fruit snacks and Perfect Bars. I try to steer away from crackers or other messy/crumby snacks—makes the boys and the car a mess!
  6. TOP TIP : Leave in the afternoon. We try to tire the boys out as much as possible in the morning which will allow them to *fingers crossed* take a nap in the car. We are lucky that Reid will still nap, but if we don’t allow them time to get their energy out in the morning—it makes for a very long car ride. Trust me, we have experimented with leaving super early in the morning, hoping that they would still be tired (they generally just stay awake); leaving very late at night, hoping they would fall asleep (but it leaves us super tired the next day)–and the best way we have found is leaving in the afternoon before nap time!

Some of the best memories I have from my childhood are family road trips. I love the conversations that we have with the boys and the excitement the boys have when they hear sirens, see cows, and pass tractor-trailers. My hope is that they remember car rides as being a fun time to spend together with our little family.

What is your top travel tip?? I hope everyone has happy and safe travels this summer 🙂

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