Last summer I went on a car trip with a toddler and a newborn. Um, that was really fun! As you might imagine!
One thing that made a world of difference was the DVD player. Sweet, peaceful Steve bought us several happy hours during the day in the car, particularly toward the end of the day when traffic got bad and no one was in the mood for another car game or car song. I really, REALLY recommend an in-car DVD player of some sort (and a few fresh DVDs) if you are driving a long distance.
Toys for long trips are tricky. Ideally they should be hand-held, one-piece, non-messy, non-noisemaking, and long-entertaining. It’s hard to hit all those bases, but here are a few that came close.
Aquadoodle uses plain water to make marks on the drawing surfaces. As the water dries, the drawing disappears. By the time the child is done filling both drawing surfaces, the first one is blank and ready to use again. This can be frustrating for a child who likes to make careful drawings that fill the page, but it’s perfect for a toddler who just wants to scribble. This travel version folds small and has a place to keep the pen.
The Find It is a fun and challenging game for other passengers, too, especially around Hour Eight when you’re starting to root through the glove compartment just for something to do, but toddlers have fun turning it around and seeing the little items appear. The picture makes it look as if all the little choking hazards are separate, but they’re safely sealed into the container of plastic bits.
The most surprising success of the trip was the LeapFrog Lulu. My mom brought Lulu along as a whim, but we all thought it was too young for the 2-year-old we were traveling with. HEAVENS NO. He played with it more than any other toy, and we were relieved to find the electronic voice/music were not too loud/annoying for the car.
Because good-condition flap books are rare in a household containing five children and a distracted mother, a couple of brand-new ones bought us a nice chunk of quiet time. Maisy’s Big Flap Book continued to be popular long after we were back home again (and still has most of its flaps!).
We’re not going anywhere this summer (I don’t know whether to be wistful or whether to fall to my knees in tearful gratitude), but let’s pool ideas for those among us who are traveling: What great toddler travel distractions have you discovered?