Traveling for long plane or car rides with young children is TORTUROUS… unless you come prepared. And what do smart moms do? They plan ahead.
I thought I’d share with you the bag of goodies that always goes with us for long car rides. It has the potential of entertaining my child for a few minutes (sometimes up to 30 minutes) at a time, and when used in rotation, they can hold his attention for a while.
- An awesomely fun silly song CD. He loves songs that involve hand motions, so the Barney CD is a favorite one at our house. Even if he seems like he isn’t listening, he’ll sit back there and quietly kick his legs along with the music.
- A new book or an old one I’ve kept in a closet from him. ALWAYS a hit. I love pulling these out to surprise him when we get on the road. He’ll gasp with delight and sometimes even give me the hard-to-earn but incredibly adorable “OH MY!”
- Yummy healthy snacks. Whole grain goldfish crackers. 100% fruit snacks. Bananas (practically a mess-free fruit.) Cheerios in a bowl with a lid.
- A small toy in multiples. Example: Small plastic farm animals, dinosaurs, rubber snakes, rubber bugs, cars, etc. They may be toys he plays with all the time, but when he pulls them out in the car, he acts like he hasn’t seen them in ages.
- Pen and paper or a pack of crayons. Yes, obvious choice for any tiny doodler, but sometimes the power of this activity is underestimated. Family-friendly restaurants have tapped into this baby art market, and it can work to capture a toddler’s imagination for at least two minutes….
- OK this one is kind of a cheat. We bring the laptop and his favorite movies. This is for the particularly LONG trips (like the one we’ll be taking tomorrow). Sorry, but sometimes all the creative and educational tips simply run out of gas and you need to rely on the talent of Walt Disney to help you survive those last few miles. Do it. Feel no shame.
- Flash cards. I bought a pack for $1.75 at WallieWorld that covers colors, shapes and letters. He loves pointing to the pictures and saying, “Whassat?” It turns more into a Quiz Mommy game instead of Quiz Baby, but either way, he’s entertained. Plus, on our last trip he learned what a triangle is. He loves pointing them out whenever he sees one now. Neat!
- Stuffed animals. Sure, they’ll entertain on their own for about six seconds, but if you don’t mind being a little goofy, you can stretch the fun into a minute or more. We’ve had backseat puppet shows, nursery soap operas, jam sessions, and Little’s Elmo recently revealed that he loves 80’s music as much as I do!
- A little surprise. On our last trip, I bought him a package of plastic dinosaurs for a dollar and surprised him with them when we hit the road. Today I picked up an activity pack (also for a buck) that includes stickers, a coloring book and a small pack of colors. It’s Toy Story themed. It will be a hit. Trust me.
- A Richard Gere movie.
…Nah, I’m just kidding. I hate Richard Gere. Did you ever see “An Officer and a Gentleman”? Bleg. Yick yuck Richard Gere in all of his…. squinty-eyed nakedness. Skip it. And “Runaway Bride,” puuhhllleeezzeee. Really though, I finished the list at 9, but it didn’t feel rounded out enough. So there ya go.
Have a great weekend!