car travel activities and gear

Family Car Travel Activities + Gear.

Per my post yesterday, we just returned from a weeklong beach trip and the drive down ended up being 8.5 hours instead of the usual 5.5 owing to traffic and accidents. Wow. We were frazzled and falling apart by the end. I’d love to say I kept my patience and engaged my children in learning-centric activities for the entirety, but one thing I learned is that a long car trip is not the time for me to make a point about limiting screen time — at least not for our family. Mini gets carsick when she focuses on activities in her lap for too long, and it felt like the only reprieve from “are we there yet?” and “my tummy hurts” was setting up a movie on the iPad, which kept her eyes forward rather than down. That said, it was SUCH a huge help to have a trove of activities, snacks, and surprises to dole out over the course of that long day. I kept a bag with all of these surprises at my feet and meted out accordingly. I also found it was helpful to keep a couple in reserve for rainy afternoons and lunch outings on the trip. A small way to claim some vacation time for ourselves! Below, some great finds and must-haves for car travel, but I want to specifically call out the importance of keeping some clean clothes easily handy (throw up, spills, accidents all happen!); using these little craft boxes as snack kits — tuck an assortment of fruit, crunchies, nuts, etc in each compartment for a fun surprise; and these TableTopics for Kids are great for passing particularly trying stretches of time. My daughter LOVES these, and they engage the whole family. My children also loved the game “A/B/C/etc my name is …., my husband’s name is …., we live in …., and we like to eat…” where you go through each letter of the alphabet and the children come up with answers for each fill-in-the-blank. (Related: I think this Mad Libs game would be SO fun for kids slightly older that understand different parts of speech!) When Mr. Magpie and I were losing it ourselves, I pulled out this 90s music trivia game, which kept him alert and engaged, and then we’d listen to the songs mentioned on each card. Last but not least, these throwback water games were a big hit with mini and entertained her for awhile on the way down!

BRIGHT PINK DIGITAL ZOOM CAMERA WITH TONS OF SPECIAL EFFECTS FOR ENDLESS ENTERTAINMENT…MINI LOVES THIS ON VACATION, AND IT’S EVEN GREAT FOR THE CAR!

PINK METALLIC ART SUPPLY CARRYING CASE WITH COLORFUL PAINT SPLOTCHES — GREAT TO KEEP ALL THEIR DRAWINGS IN ONE TIDY KIT

RAINBOW-COLORED WASHABLE GEL WATERCOLOR PENS WITH BLENDING PAINT BRUSH…OOLY MAKES THE BEST ART SUPPLIES

SET OF EIGHT STRIPED ZIP-UP PACKING ORGANIZERS — SIMPLIFIES THE PACKING PROCESS FOR ANY LENGTH OF TRIP

OPEN TOP CLASSIC HEAVYWEIGHT CANVAS TOTE BAG FROM L.L. BEAN WITH CONTRAST STRAP…I SWEAR THESE BAGS ARE INDESTRUCTIBLE, AND I LIKE TO WEDGE THEM IN RIGHT UNDER EACH CHILD’S FEET SO I CAN EASILY GRAB NEEDED ITEMS (DOUBLES AS THEIR FOOT REST!)

SUPER-SOFT SHERPA SLIP-ON BOOTIES WITH SUEDE SOLE FOR YOUR LITTLES AND ADULTS — MY CHILDREN LOVE TO WEAR SOCKS/SLIPPERS IN THE CAR

A COZY BLANKET IS A MUST FOR CAR TRIPS FOR MY LITTLES — THIS MINI-SIZED ADORABLE DOUBLE-SIDED FOREST GREEN CATERPILLAR PATTERNED BLANKET IS MACHINE WASHABLE (AND DRYER-FRIENDLY!)

THESE ANTI-NAUSEA AND MOTION SICKNESS MEDICATED LOLLIPOPS — THESE DID NOT WORK FOR US BECAUSE MINI WAS SUSPICIOUS ONCE SHE HEARD THEY WERE “MEDICINE”…IF I COULD GO BACK, I’D REBRAND AS “SPECIAL CAR LOLLIPOPS”

LIGHT UP EASY-TO-USE BLUETOOTH WIRELESS HEADPHONES IN PINK AND MINT GREEN SO YOU AREN’T LISTENING TO BLUEY FOR HOURS

FOLD-OUT ONCE UPON A TIME GIANT REUSABLE STICKER ACTIVITY BOOK

NUNA RAVA FIRE-RESISTANT CARSEAT — I SWEAR BY OURS

TONIEBOX AUDIO TOY THAT PLAYS ANYTHING FROM BEDTIME STORIES TO EDUCATION CONTENT…PLUS IT COMES WITH ELMO, PLAYTIME PUPPY, AND COOKIE MONSTER FIGURINES…CAN TRAVEL WITH YOU SO CHILDREN CAN LISTEN IN THE CAR

PINK AND RED ORGANIZED HARD SHELL CARRYING CASE FOR THE TONIEBOX AUDIO PLAYER

BAMBOO GREEN LEAKPROOF BENTO LUNCH BOX WITH FUN SHARK PRINTED TRAY — KEEPS LUNCH ORGANIZED AND INTERACTIVE FOR THE LITTLES

DINOSAUR-SHAPED 8.5-INCH WRITING AND DRAWING TABLET WITH MATCHING STYLUS

HARDCOVER FINGERPRINT ART ACTIVITY BOOK WITH NINE COLORS OF SUPER EASILY WASHABLE INK PADS — BEST FOR OLDER KIDS BUT MY DAUGHTER LOVES THESE

A couple of other activities to add to cart…

P.S. A delicious salsa verde recipe.

P.P.S. A question to avoid in awkward conversations.

P.P.P.S. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

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