How to Entertain a Toddler on a Road Trip 20 Brilliant Ways

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Road Trip Activities with Little Kids

Road Trip Activities with Little Kids

Exactly how to entertain a toddler on a road trip with crafty DIY toddler road trip toys and tons of printable road trip activities for two year olds. These are a collection of brilliant ways to entertain kids on a road trip, from toddler through school-aged.

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road trip activities for kids

Are you planning to entertain a toddler on a road trip this summer?

Traveling with kids can be tough. They get wiggly, antsy, bored, hungry, you name it. It’s rough for a kid to sit still for any extended length of time.

When summer or holidays roll around many of us chose to venture on a road trip with a two-year-old on up. It might be a choice, or it might be something you need to do to see family. Whatever the reason, this collection of brilliant ways to entertain kids on a road trip will be a huge help whether you are entertaining a toddler or even a school aged kid. (I have both!)

This summer I foresee a lot of us taking the plunge and choosing to road trip with a toddler. We’ve been pent up inside for a year. We’re all ready to get outside, explore, and let our hair down! So it’s the perfect time to learn all about how to entertain little kids in the car.

How long can this list entertain toddlers in the car?

My family spontaneously just moved over 1,000 miles to be near family that needed us. We drove this with a toddler who used to have anxiety attacks as a baby in the car, had never driven over 30 minutes, and had never left her hometown.

We also did this trip towing all our worldly belongings behind us in a trailer (which means you typically are traveling at 55 miles an hour). This made our drivetime over 22 hours.

I was terrified that the trip would go horrible. That hours would be spent screaming or crying. Maybe that it’d take weeks to drive the 1,000 + mile trip!

So I set off to Google and Pinterest for Ways to Entertain a Toddler in the Car

My oldest and I spent hours creating each child their own personal folder full of car game printables, coloring pages, old-school game printables (tic-tac-toe and the like), and more!

We spent days creating handfuls of DIY felt boards, miniature boxes of toys, and building them each their own special car toy bag. And boy did it pay off!

We were able to travel 5 days 4-5 hours each day, with almost no tears! Once again, that is with a toddler that has never driven over 30 minutes because it would turn into a frustrating tearful disaster!


I want to help all moms learn how to entertain a toddler on a road trip!

I’ll share with you all the links, printables, DIYs and any other ideas that were really helpful for making this huge trip go smoothly for us. Most are toddler road trip toys and activities but some are life saving parent hacks for long road trips with kids.


How to Entertain a Toddler on a Road Trip: Activities and Hacks


1. Make Epic Snack Coolers

Each girl got to  pick their own full size lunch box / cooler filled to the brim with road trip snacks. It is really fun to pick up additional snacks when stopping for gas or a pee but you’d be amazed how much time it can consume to do that!

When driving with a toddler long distances, if the drive is going well, you really don’t want to extend the breaks longer than you need to. I was constantly reminding the girls they already had snacks.

However when they reached in and kept pulling out new things even after 4 days of driving it was quite a treat. They each even got their own flavor of those tiny squeeze bottles (like Mios), for when they wanted something special or sweet to drink without the mess of soda or milk.

Our snack coolers included:

  • mini meat sticks
  • roasted seaweed
  • mixed nuts
  • cashews
  • fruit snacks
  • crackers
  • granola bars
  • boxed raisins
  • jar of green olives
  • Mio water enhancer

Nothing required refrigeration, but it was special for them each to have their own lunchbox. (Oh and there was an additional little candy lunchbox too, for when we really needed to keep driving!)

When all else is failing for keeping kids entertained on a road trip… SNACKS!


2. 25 Printable Road Trip Games Free

entertain toddlers on a road trip

FROM: The Joys of Boys

We got a 3 ring binder and dividers for each kid and filled each section with something new. One was for awesome road trip printables like these. Scavenger hunts went over best for both my toddler and my 7 year old.


3. Restaurant Eye Spy

hoe to entertain kids on a road trip

FROM: 3 Boys and a Dog


4. Old School Games and Scavenger Hunts

enertain kids on a road trip

FROM: Trip Savvy

We printed a bunch of old school games that filled another tab in each road trip binder and were a huge success to entertain my little kids on a road trip. We could have easily drawn tic tac toe and hangman, but printing them made it more of a novelty.


5. Printable Car Games for Kids

how to entertain kids in a car

From: Landeelu

This is a great selection of road trip printables to entertain kids on long drives in the car. Most are geared at older kids, but a couple I even got included in my toddler’s road trip activity book.


6. M&M’s Getting to Know You Game

entertain 2 year old on a road trip


This game we pulled out when the day was getting long and it was time for some candy and creativity to keep the kids entertained. Each color of M&M matches with a question to ask your kids. I love question games with my kids. It’s so fun to see how their little minds work.

You can either hand them the candies one at a time along with the question that matches the color, or allow them each a bag to announce each color themselves.


7. Would You Rather (Toddler & Kid Versions)

would you rather

From: Vigor It Out

Whenever we have downtime that is dragging on I spark up a game of Would You Rather. The sillier the better. These are two amazing free printable lists of Would You Rather with a toddler and more extensive version for older kids.


8. 38 Things to do with Kids in the Car #Roadtrip


FROM: Mom Generations

Great list of ideas! Mainly for entertaining older kids in the car.


9. 12 Awesome Toddler Road Trip Games

FROM: Playful Notes

All these are perfect games for toddlers! They are so simple, but I’d have never thought of most of them!


10. Cookie Sheet Activity Tray

entertain toddlers on a road trip

FROM: Burlap and Denim

I absolutely loved this amazingly creative upcycle! When road tripping it is beyond easy for the car to become an epic disaster within minutes! When on a road trip with kids this is such a handy way to keep snacks and papers in one place.

Plus you can pick up magnet souvenirs at each stop and add to the board! (We painted ours as it was old and stained. It was a great craft!)


11. Muffin Tin Hold-Everything Tray

keep kids entertained in the car

After creating a cookie sheet activity tray inspired by #11 I had this awesome idea for my toddler! I upcycled a muffin tin (that we creatively painted of course) into her own activity tray which doubled as  a snack holder. It was perfect for a 2 year old because it was able to hold everything in place and actually wedged perfectly between the armrests of her car seat.

Fill multiple muffin spots with multiple snacks, or different craft supplies, or use as a toy holder. This hack was essential for keeping her things from falling all over the place!


12. Car Seat Activity Tray


I literally JUST found these and am in love! Sure I love a great upcycle like the 2 items above. But this activity tray really has it all and straps right onto the car seat! When traveling long days in the car with little kids, organization is key. It’s so easy to let everything go cray fast and then you won’t be able to find a thing! These will help.


13. Felt Chains Busy Bag and More

hwo to entertain toddlers in the car

FROM: Testy Yet Trying

Creating busy bags with felt is a wonderful way to entertain toddlers on a road trip because the pieces sort of stick together. This felt chain was the least messy of all the activity bags and was even enjoyed by my 7 year old!


14. Mini Light Table

road trip activities for toddlers

FROM: A Little Pinch of Perfect


15. Velcro Sticks Activity Bag

how to entertain a toddler on a road trip

FROM: Tip Garden


16. Themed Felt Activity Board Bags

road trip activities for kids

FROM: The Hawkins Family

These felt activity boards are brilliance. We made tons of different sets including Mr. Potato Head, design your own dinner plate, design your own butterfly, and more.

activities for a two year old in the car


17. State Flower Coloring Page

FROM: Kids Activities Woo

Included in our epic Road Trip Binders one of the tabs was for coloring pages! We included coloring pages for each state we were driving through as well as any movies that the kids were into.


18. Altoids Clay Tin

altoids tin car game hack

I planned on bringing play dough on the trip but settled on Modeling Clay as it doesn’t dry out. I am so glad I did because it was the activity that entertained my two-year-old for the most hours in the car! Simply empty out and wash an Altoids tin and fill it with a pack of modeling clay.

The muffin tin hold everything tray from #13 was wonderful for setting the altoids tin on. The clay all stayed on the tray. It also sticks to it very well for when tiny hands are sculpting.


19. The A B C Game

This was a really amazing idea that my mom had to help keep the girls entertained. We made a list of each letter in the alphabet and their challenge was to fill in something they saw on their trip for each letter. THEN they got paid $.50 for each one at the end of the trip! You could make the money increments anything that fits your family (or get the grandparents in on the deal like we did!)

Nothing motivates kids more than snacks and money.


20. BONUS: 14 Ways to Entertain Kids in a Hotel Room

entertain kids on a trip

From: Coffee and Carpool

Once you arrive at your hotel for the night your master list of toddler entertainment isn’t over! I adore this list of ways to keep the fun times going in a hotel which can get a bit boring at times once you’ve gone swimming and run the halls.

I made a list of all the items mentioned in this post and ravaged the Dollar Tree! Bringing out balloons, glowsticks, and more each night was a treat the girls really looked forward to.


A Couple More Tips that Helped Our Travels with Kids go Smooth

  • Having a brand new little toy that was a total surprise for each girl once we got on the road in the mornings.
  • Purchasing a dozen new DVDs to watch on the drive. Old favorites we didn’t yet own and some brand new ones.
  • Fisher Price: Little People CDs… I’ve had these for years and they always come out on long trips. The ABC Sing-Along CD is our all time favorite.
  • Having this Mini Book Shelf in the backseat loaded with new books.
  • Booking hotels along the way because sometimes with a toddler you have an idea of how far you’d like to get, but it doesn’t always happen.


How Got 11% Cash Back on all Our Hotel Rooms!

We use this website called Top Cash Back. Have you heard of it? You sign up once and make purchases through the links on their site for your favorite retailers that you already shop at anyways.

Each retailer offers a different amount of cash back! It is that simple.

Top Cash Back offers discounts on multiple websites for booking hotels but Travelocity offered the highest cash back rate at 11% at that time so we made all our bookings through them on the road. They also partner with and so check out which is currently offering the best deal as they sometimes change. It couldn’t be easier and I love saving money on what I’m going to be doing anyways.

Sign up for Top Cash Back before your trip so you’re all set for big savings! 


What activities have been the biggest help for you when planning a road trip for your toddler? If you try using this list I’d love for you to come back and let me know what worked best for you!

More Fun for Kids From Vigor it Out:


Road Trip Activities with Little Kids


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  1. Thanks for these tips! I absolutely love all the printables. I plan on making some felt bags for my toddler for our upcoming vacation. I also love the cookie sheet tip!

    Thanks so much for gathering all these great ideas!

    1. You’re welcome I’m glad you enjoyed them! We are STILL using the cookie sheet to keep my toddler entertained in the car a year later!

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