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Travel Entertainment for Kids

March 4, 2013 Sarah Coggins
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Over the weekend we took a family road trip to Williamsburg, VA. Whether all 3 of us or just my son and me, one thing I’ve long known – traveling with a young child requires entertainment. While he will actually look out the window at the scenery a good bit now, that’s never enough. Here are a few of our tried & true ideas for making road trips a success:

Keep kids entertained on your next long road trip with these easy & inexpensive ideas.

I originally kept a couple of toys in the diaper bag for use when out & about. Then I saw Allison‘s idea of using a fabric storage cube to contain an assortment of toys and books in her backseat. I copied the idea with a small bag, but quickly saw the need to upgrade. I ended up purchasing a medium sized tote from Land’s End with a zipper closure. This bag is always in our car and filled with toys and books to entertain whether we’re going across town or across the state. It has come in handy for road trips and long waits at a restaurant when crayons & paper aren’t enough. Most of the items following are all stored in this bag.

Travel Entertainment for Kids: Car Toy Bag

Doodle Board

Smaller size doodle boards travel well and provide a creative outlet that is clean. Just be aware of leaving it in the car in extreme weather. One of ours was warped beyond repair over the summer when left out in the heat. Perhaps best stored in the diaper bag versus the car bag.

Travel Roadway

I found the idea of creating a travel sized car roadway on Pinterest a while back. The original idea used the top of a shoe box. I didn’t have one handy so I used a small cardboard box from canned cat food. I trimmed the edges down to approximately 1″ high. Then used a permanent marker to sketch a road, trees, signs and houses. This roadway fits our son’s lap perfectly and he’s driven cars on it for almost a year now. Another plus – by leaving the design black & white (or brown?), he’s also been able to color it adding extra fun. Its size has also worked well as a small “desk” space to support small books for coloring.

Travel Entertainment for Kids: Car Track

Fabric Marble Maze

I made half a dozen of these for our son and his friends for Christmas 2 years ago. It’s small and easy to tote anywhere – purse, diaper bag, etc. Details here.


Since he loves to color, we typically have our crayon roll with us when travel. Other fun ideas are Invisible Ink books and, our latest discovery, Crayola Color Wonder markers & books. When I wasn’t able to find an Invisible Ink book late last week, I ended up buying the Color Wonder Stow & Go kit. It was a huge hit and kept him occupied most of the drive each way. We’ll definitely be investing in additional books before future trips.

Travel Entertainment for Kids: Crayola Color Wonder

Button Snake

Another Pinterest idea found here. I quickly whipped up the button snake one afternoon with supplies in my house. I store it in a small fabric bag he got at a birthday party so all the pieces stay together. This simple eye/hand coordination project entertains him for a while. A lacing kit would also work.

Books & Magazines

We keep a few favorite small books in the car bag including our DIY I Spy book and a couple with digital music players [Elmo’s Rockin’ Road Trip (affiliate link)]. When I know we have a trip coming up, I’ll often stash the latest issue of a magazine for him to enjoy on the ride.

Travel Entertainment for Kids: Books & Magazines

DVD Player

Honestly, the last few trips we haven’t even taken our DVD player with us! *gasp* We did try it at the start of our trip on Friday and quickly put it up. For whatever reason, it doesn’t hold his attention for very long. Perhaps when he’s older it will hold his attention again.


This is part of the reason we don’t need the DVD player – we have an old iPhone with a few TV shows installed as well as a number of kid friendly apps and music. Plus he can take photographs (those are always interesting to see after!). Since he doesn’t use it the entire trip (and is limited other times), I don’t feel too guilty handing it over for the ride.

Assortment of Small Toys

Think army men, matchbox cars, etc. Perhaps toys from a kids’ meal or the dollar spot. Little things that your kids will find fun for imaginative play in the car and even the hotel room during your trip. But also items that you won’t fret over if they get lost. Usually ours turn up under a car seat or in the pockets in the door though.

Have other ideas? Let me know. Even with the list above, we are still on the hunt for new ones.


  • Duncan Faber March 4, 2013 at 10:41 pm
    We have 5 kids, and we always keep them occupied with audiobooks for the ipods. There's a ton of sites where you can download them, but we use this one a lot because the stories are free and original. This is the link, if anyone is intereted.
    • Sarah Coggins March 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm
      Great idea! I'll definitely be trying it on a future trip.
  • emily March 5, 2013 at 8:07 am
    I will definately be storing these ideas away in my mind for when Ellie is a little bit bigger:) Great suggestions...especially the cardboard box road for matchbox cars. That is great!
    • Sarah Coggins March 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm
      Thanks! I'm sure you'll have to add some fun stuff like small dolls. :)
  • scrapperjen March 5, 2013 at 10:44 am
    These are GREAT ideas!!!!
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    Hi! I'm a DIY and craft obsessed mom to 2. I have my hands covered in sawdust or paint any given day. My husband and kids join me in many of our projects. When we aren't creating at home, we're creating memories in our many adventures. Join along! Read More


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