Tag Archives: travel

Road Trip Activities for a Two Year Old

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Buddy and I started our summer break with a road trip to visit my family. Since this trip was in the middle of the week, Hubby wasn’t able to join us. That also meant that I had to find activities to keep Buddy occupied for more than 6 hours in the car. All of these activities had to be things that Buddy can do independently and would hold his attention. They also had to be easy to pack and carry in the car.

Buddy actually looks excited to start his long car ride!

Last summer, I blogged about tips for driving alone with a toddler (read here), and I used many of those same things on this trip as well. I modified the toy box set up a little from last year, but otherwise it’s the same. I poked holes in a shoe box and used string to tie it to the arm rest next to Buddy’s seat. Then, I loaded it up with small toys and books to keep him occupied. 

Here is what is in the box:

1.Water wow – This is one of Buddy’s favorite things right now. It’s a paint with water book that goes back to black and white after it dries. It actually didn’t fit in the box, but I handed it to him separately. I filled the water pen ahead of time, and he is able to put it in and out of the holder himself. We brought the water wow to a family dinner and all of the kids were obsessed with it. Buddy had to take turns with his 5-year-old and 3-year-old cousins painting one object at a time.

2. Colorforms – These we actually didn’t do in the car, but I bought them to do at my dad’s house. I’d been looking for reusable stickers for plane rides, but couldn’t find anything I liked. Then I came across Colorforms at Toys R Us and realized it was perfect! Buddy’s older cousins loved the Colorforms too.

3. VTech Go Go Smart Wheels – Buddy loves these. (Read about the portable tracks I made for these cars here.) He can turn the noises on and off himself. I did make the mistake of bringing our fire truck, and it took awhile to realize why I kept hearing sirens all over the place…

4. Old MacDonald Hand Puppet Book– Buddy sings Old MacDonald non stop, so of course I had to bring our book/puppet for it!

5. I Spy bottle – I linked one that you can buy, but I packed one that I made out of a tiny water bottle. (See the DIY directions for our larger one here.)

6. Finger puppets– These are small and fun to play with.

7. Indestructibles Books – I have blogged before about how much I love these books for travel. They are made of the same material as packing envelopes, and they take no space to pack. Several of them live in our diaper bag at all times. The Things That Go one is our current favorite.

8. Fisher Price Smart Phone – Buddy hadn’t seen ours in a while, so it was extra exciting for him on this trip.

9. Small board books – Buddy loves reading, so I always bring a bunch of books. I really like these small chunky books that are 2 inches by 2 inches because they don’t take up much space.

10. My First Thomas Pull Back Racer – Buddy loves all things Thomas, and these are a little larger and easier to bring (and not lose) than the wooden trains. They are the best pull back toys I’ve ever seen. They go forward a lot for just a little effort.

11. Stuffed animals – I probably didn’t need a link for this one because every toddler I know has a ton. The one I linked is a Peter Rabbit that is a current favorite of Buddy’s.

12. Munchkin farm animals – These are supposed to be bath toys, but we’ve never used them in the tub. Buddy loves playing with these animals.

13. Baby Einstein Music Toy – The music and lights make this interesting for both babies and toddlers. It is one of the few toys that I packed that would also be appropriate for a night drive. (I drove during the day, but we’ve had the problem of what to pack for dark drives during other parts of the year.)

14. Snacks are an important activity (in my opinion) to keep a toddler happy and entertained in the car. We love this Munchkin snack cup and Munchkin straw sippy cup.

I brought a few more toys and books to play with during our trip (a deflated beach ball is always a favorite of mine because it takes no space to pack). For the most part, these travel toys were the favorites both in the car and out of it. If you have any questions about travel tips with a toddler, please ask in the comments.

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DIY Portable Road Strips

Buddy and I started our summer break with a road trip to see my family. Before our trip, I looked for new toys to keep Buddy occupied at his Granddad’s house. I wanted to find or make things that were small enough to travel with us. Since Buddy loves cars and trains, I decided to make portable road strips.

To make the road strips, I cut strips of black felt that were 2.5 inches wide. I decided to make them this width in order to be wide enough for Buddy’s Smart Wheels Cars (affiliate link). Some of them are straight, and some have corners. I wanted a variety of road strips so Buddy could set up the road in many different ways. I used white puffy fabric paint to make a dashed line in the middle of each road strip. 

We played with the portable road strips several times on our trip. Every time, Buddy was really excited to see the road and help set it up. He figured out quickly how to fix it by patting it flat when it got scrunched up a little. 

Buddy also really enjoyed mixing up the layout of the road. He needed a little help to get everything put together, but he could do a lot of it himself. Buddy tried his road strips on both the floor and the couch. 

After awhile, Buddy wanted to put other things on the road besides his cars. He walked his stuffed bunny up and down the road. He also put some of his Melissa and Doug Alphabet Train Lacing Beads (affiliate link) on the road. 

This was such an easy DIY project. It took me less than 20 minutes to put together, and it kept Buddy entertained for a long time. I will definitely bring these road strips with us on future trips. I’m sure we’ll also play with them often at home.

Road Trip Tips for Driving Alone with a One Year Old

My husband and I love to travel, and since our families live far away, we travel with our one year old often. With two parents, our road trips are usually easy. Hubby does the driving and I can attend to Buddy when he needs a new toy or a paci. However for this trip, Hubby had to fly back to work early, leaving me alone to drive with Buddy for more than 7 hours. I was worried about how to manage Buddy while driving, but fortunately I came up with some ideas to help things go smoothly. I hope these tips help any other parents who find themselves in a similar situation.

Tip #1 – Accept that the trip will take longer with one parent compared to two and plan extra time. When we drove together to Cleveland, we only needed to stop once and it took us about 6 hours. I knew that I would have to stop more often to take care of Buddy since I wouldn’t be able to do it while driving. I also knew the stops would be longer. Usually Hubby gets food and gas while I feed and change the baby. But on my own, I wouldn’t be able to multitask. I knew the drive would be longer, and I made sure to allow plenty of time to make it home before dinner.

Tip #2 – Put gas in the car on the day before the trip. I wanted to make sure I could do anything I possibly could to make the trip shorter.

Tip #3 – Leave when the baby is full and tired. I planned to leave just before nap time, so that I knew I would have a long period of time with Buddy sleeping. I also made sure to feed him right before leaving so that I would only have to feed him once on the road.

Tip #4 – Bring snacks and drinks. Buddy’s nap went way past my lunchtime, but I had no intention of waking him up so I could eat. Fortunately, I had snacks and drinks to keep me full and happy  until Buddy was awake and ready to eat.

Tip #5 – Put the pacifier on a clip. I’m not sure why I’ve never done this on a road trip before. On the drive over, I had to hand back several pacifiers because the paci would fall out when Buddy slept, and often it fell out of his reach. We have pacifier clips that keep the paci within his reach, and it was easy for him to find and replace it. I will definitely make sure to do this on all future road trips, because Buddy was happy to be able to get his paci or spit it out whenever he Toys in car seatwanted.

Tip #6 – Put a variety of toys where your child can reach them. This was the part of the trip that most worried me. Buddy loves to play with toys and can get fussy if he’s stuck in the car for a long time without some entertainment. I had to get creative, but I was able to tie a shoebox onto the side of Buddy’s carseat with twine, and I provided additional support with the lid of the box. I also used our two toy tethers to ensure that at least a couple toys would remain within reach. Buddy loved being able to choose his own toys and not have to rely on me to figure out what he wanted.

Tip #7 – Bring a baby carrier or a stroller to help with stops. Our drive was mainly on a toll road, so we didn’t have drive-thru food as an option. I had planned to bring our Ergo to hold Buddy while I was in the bathroom and getting food, but I forgot it. However, the stroller worked perfectly. The handicapped bathroom had plenty of room for the stroller, and the stroller made a perfect highchair for Buddy to eat while I ate my food. It was much easier to carry my food and drink with Buddy in the stroller instead of squirming in my arms.

Tip #8 – Have a plan for melt downs. I knew at some point on the trip that Buddy would get fussy and would need some soothing. I made a playlist of his favorite songs and saved it for when he was upset. Sure enough, about 5 hours into our trip, Buddy dropped his favorite toy and was really upset. The songs helped calm him down for awhile, but then a poopy diaper put him over the edge. At that point, no amount of “Wheels on the Bus” was going to help, so I pulled over at the next stop. (Unfortunately we were on a toll road and it was another 20 minutes before I could stop.)  I had been waiting to get more gas until later in the trip, so I was able to soothe my little boy and get gas at the same time.

Our road trip was over 7 and a half hours, and with my planning, Buddy was happy, entertained, or asleep for more than 7 hours. I would consider that to be a success, and I plan to use these tips again on our next trip.

If you have any other road trip tips, please share in the comments. Buddy and I will be on the road again in a few weeks, and I’d love to have some new ideas for a smooth trip.