Traveling with children—around the block or across the state—can be challenging, especially if you’re not prepared to deal with the boredom or restlessness. Try some helpful tips to keep your child (and yourself!) occupied. 

  • Stock Supplies. A small pad of paper and pencil/crayons can be thrown into a purse, diaper bag or backpack. Use these to draw pictures, create origami (fold into the shape of a square!), practice letter & number writing, creating a story, or playing a game (like tic-tac- toe).
  • For Trips Only. Set aside specific toys and books for use only while in the car. Keep them in a small basket beside your child’s car seat for easy access.
  • Create a Play Zone. Use a metal cookie tray for magnetic letters & numbers, or for coloring & drawing–the edge of the tray keeps crayons from rolling away. For smaller laps, consider using smaller pan or tray.
  • Plan for Breaks. Too long in a vehicle makes everyone restless and grumpy. On the grassy areas of rest stops, bring out a ball or jump rope. (Even smaller children may be able to “walk the line” of a jump rope.) Explore the rest area by taking a walk around the area.
  • Play “I Spy”. How many big trucks can you spot? Red cars? Check your surroundings for grazing cows, houses with chimneys, bridges that pass over the road, gas stations, etc. (Just remember that your child’s view from the back seat may be very limited to what is outside.)
  • Pack an “Adventure Bag!” In a bag or backpack, pack “binoculars” (two toilet paper rolls, taped together) or a “telescope” (a paper towel roll) and a map with landmarks along the way. Your child can pretend he or she is a pirate or explorer, searching for treasure.
  • Sing the Miles. A CD or streaming music that everyone can sing along to can help pass the miles. Try music by Raffi, Dean Jones, Fred Penner, Joe McDermott, Bob McGrath, Charlotte Diamond, Judy Caplan Ginsberg, and Sharon, Lois & Bram. Check with your library to borrow tunes to keep your child entertained during a drive.
  • Eat, Drink and Be Merry. Travel can be dehydrating, and empty tummies can be grumpy tummies. Take foods which travels well, like dry cereal, cheese sticks, and fruit. Pack juice boxes or take water.
  • Plan Ahead. If your trip is delayed due to weather, traffic or cancellations, you don’t want to be stuck unprepared. Make sure you have enough diapers, drinks and snacks.
  • Be Reasonable. Have reasonable expectations of yourself and your child. Take breaks when needed.

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