Travel Hacks for Kids: 10 Car Activities

dashboardThis week at Eat, Drink & DIY is all about how handle spending time in the car with kids.  Whether you commute with your child(ren) everyday or you are taking a long road trip, these tips and tricks will be useful for it all. 

I am a daily commuter with my daughter.  We drive about 45 minutes into the Twin Cities everyday at about noon.  We leave at 4:30 pm after her class is done and it takes us about 1:20-ish minutes to get home.  (Gotta love traffic).  We spend approximately 10 hours a week together in the car.  Luckily for me, she naps on the drive in.  Therefore, I only have to worry about entertaining her on the way home.  She is usually guaranteed a movie in the portable DVD player on the way home and her dinner.

In the morning, I pack her a bento with her dinner to eat on the way home. (Bentos are fun little lunch containers that keep everything nice and together without using lots ziplock bags).  Depending on our schedule for the evening I occasionally pack myself some dinner to eat as well on the way home.  Please see this article about food for commuters and my Bistro Box, Adult Lunchable, Vegetarian Bento Box, for ideas about adult food. 

Here are some of my favorite ways to keep my kids entertained in the car.  When considering an activity, remember their age and abilities along with their interests.  Don’t expect your 2 year old to do well with markers in the backseat unattended.  Whereas your 5 year old could probably handle markers responsibly without making too much of a mess.

10 Car Activities for Kids:
1. Read books.  It may be helpful to help motivate if you set goals.  For every book your child reads they earn X.  Check out my Summer Book Count Page for our reward system. 
2. DVD player and DVD’s
3. iPad/ tablet (Make sure your tablets are charged before taking off!)
4. Coloring book and crayons
5. DIY Kid’s Dry-Erase Activity Book with Crayola Washable Dry-Erase Markers
6. Crayola Dry Erase Bookwith Crayola Washable Dry-Erase Markers
7. “Books on tape” (CD or digital version).  I just found out that there are children’s audio books on my Podbean (podcast) app.  I’m not sure about other podcast apps, but there are a bunch of classic kids books available for free on the app from Peter Pan to Black Beauty to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  CLASSICS!  It’s amazing, check it out!
8. “iSpy” game or the license plate game
9. Quiz your kids: Spelling lists, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, the state capitals, what your address is, phone number, birthdate, etc… Ask them about subjects they are currently studying in school.  Make it fun and they will play a long.
10. Sticker Books.  We like the reusable Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pads.

That’s my list.  I’m sure it will evolve and change once my kids get older.  They are currently 4 and 6, so all of these items might not work if you have kids quite a bit older or younger then mine.

How do you entertain your kids in the car? Do you shut off electronics occasionally and make your kid do something besides stare at a screen?  We try to, but we are not total prudes and we use our Portable DVD Player in a headrest holder and iPads to help keep the kids calm and easily entertained while in the car.

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