Travel Activities for Kids on Road Trips Under $15 to Free
We recently took a beach trip with our 7 month old and 4 year old. Driving 7+ hours with two kids requires lots of planning. I wanted to have some travel activities for kids, snacks and extra patience packed for the drive.
And if you are going to the beach and need to know the #1 beach item to take with you for an infant, read about that here.
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Since we used to make a trip from our home in Houston, TX to Memphis about every 6-8 weeks for the first two years of my daughter’s life, I am pretty experienced in things that work well in the car. I have compiled a list of things that we used on this trip or have used on previous trips to make the journey a little easier on everyone.
Amazon Road Trip Toys & Activities Under $15
Pop Snap Beads
I put a few handfuls into a solo cup. The cup fits into the carseat cup holder and the kids can assemble chains or jewelry. If they use all the beads by making a super long chain, I will refill the cup. These beads snap together so there is no chance of a string being dropped and all the beads falling off. Good for a car ride and something different than the usual car activities.
Colorforms Reusable Stickers & Background
Do you remember playing with these as a kid? I do! I loved being able to create a sticker scene with all of my favorite characters and then pull them all off and start over. Lots of the current characters are available for your kids – Peppa, Paw Patrol, PJ Masks. These are a great activity for the car, airplane, a restaurant or even just quiet time at home.
Magnetic Dress Up Board
Magnets in the car are always a win in my book because I envision them staying stuck where they should be and not all over my floor. My daughter has been playing with her magnetic dress up board since she was 2 or 3 and still enjoys it at 4.5 years old. We always have to have all thing princess and girl so we love the Frozen and Minnie sets. They also have a Minions and Cars set too that will be perfect for my baby boy in a couple of years!
Melissa & Doug Water Wow
Wow is right. Simply put water in paint brush holder and shut the top. Your kids will paint with the water and all of the pretty colors will magically appear. The best part? Once the water dries, the color evaporates and they can paint again and again.
I bought my daughter a set of these when she was 2 and we are just now having to replace them 2 years later because the paper finally wore out after being painted so many times. She has so much fun using these books, especially in places where painting is not typically allowed like in the car! This pack has 3 books and if you need less, they also have a 2 pack. I keep these in my diaper bag too for times that we might get stuck somewhere and need a distraction.
These might just be my favorite travel activity for kids!
Encouraging learning and fine motor is what we do as moms (even if it is in a car)! These lacing cards accomplish just that. The kids think it is fun and we can feel good about them doing something besides watching a screen (and don’t think I am getting all judgey, you better believe a screen will make an appearance in our car during a trip.)
The ocean themed lacing cards were my choice since we were travelling to the beach. The princess, zoo, and transportation cards are also very cute.
These are pieces of yarn covered in wax. The sticks are moldable and can be twisted and formed into shapes. I like to print off free playdough mats to use when playing with these wikkistix. They are mess free! Picklebums has a great roundup of playdough mats that you can use.
Dollar Tree Travel Activities for Kids
We took a quick trip to the Dollar Tree right before we left. As always they have a million things that you didn’t know that you needed! Since everything is just $1, it is great for little car ride surprises.
Here is what we got:
Stick on By Number Mosaics – These little kits surprised me! They were lots of fun and super economical.
I kept the stickers up front with me and let my daughter pick one number to do at a time to cut down on lost pieces and mess. These were actually really good quality and reminded me of kits I have purchased at craft stores for much more than $1!
Velvet Mickey Mouse Mini Poster Coloring Art
Mini Character Puzzle Tins – Attach magnetic tape to the puzzle pieces and they can work the puzzle on the cookie sheet in the car. Make sure you use a really thin magnet. I used one that was too thick at first and the puzzle pieces will not fit together right if you do that.
Travel Activities for Kids that Dollar Tree Stocks:
Big Pack of Stickers
Coloring & Activity Books
Dry Erase Boards – They had cute little character boards in the school supply aisle that were perfect lap size
Baby Dolls/Barbie type dolls
School Workbooks – lots of age appropriate workbooks are available.
(Almost) Free Travel Activities For Kids
When you are traveling, money has probably already been spent on travel expenses, lodging and entertainment when you get there. But when you are trying to survive a long drive or plane ride with littles, a few new things can be worth it because it literally helps with sanity.
A couple of new items are fun and exciting for the kids but there are plenty of things that you can also do extremely inexpensively or for free to create entertainment on the ride as well. Travel activities for kids don’t have to cost a lot to be exciting. Here are some cheap ideas to make the car ride more fun.
Gift Wrap Everything
Do you remember the first Christmas or two with your baby? Remember how they had more fun with the wrapping paper and boxes than with the 3 million toys that you and your family gave them? That is the concept here! If you buy a couple of new items, wrap those up. Even better, over the course of the week before you leave, select a few car appropriate toys that you already own. Wrap those toys up too! The mystery of unwrapping will be so fun, the kids won’t care if it is brand new or something they just have not seen in a week. (Do your kids love the cheap blind bags? This is a DIY variety!)
I keep all of the wrapped toys and activities within my reach and pass them out as needed. My favorite container to use to contain this is a trunk cargo organizer (I use this one). I like the trunk organizers more than a plastic bin because they are collapsible so it gives you a little more flexibility. If you want to collapse it once you arrive at your destination, you can save some room.
I also do this with snacks. An animal cracker is so much more fun to eat after pulling it out of a pretty package. I keep the savory and sweet snacks separated in my bag so that I am in control of preventing 4 snacks of M&M’s in a row. I pack some healthy stuff too but treats are kind of a given on a road trip! Your kids will love unwrapping all of their stuff on the road to where you are going!
Just remember to pack a couple of plastic grocery bags to control the trash and dispose of it at your next gas station stop. Brightly colored tissue paper makes a good gift wrap for this and seems to create a little less mess than traditional wrapping paper since it tears away so easily. I just lightly tie a little ribbon to secure it or you could use tape.
There are lots of free printable worksheets available that you can find on Pinterest to print off. Tracing letters, simple math problems, and easy problem solving activities can be good choices to pass the time on a road trip. These are great travel activities for kids that are fun and educational.
Preschool Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a fun and inexpensive way to pass the fun. We use Do A Dot Paint markers to mark off the found items. Paint is always more fun than a regular pencil and these are no spill. I like this scavenger hunt for younger kids since it has large pictures.
I hope these travel activities for kids help you on your next road trip or plane ride. We survived our road trip with no meltdowns (even from the baby!). And if you are looking for a fun Staycation idea for your kids, check out this awesome Slip N Slide Hack.