February 24, 2014

5 Road Trip Essentials For My Kids

Mr. Wonderful and I used to be afraid of road trips with the kids. The thought of being trapped in a car with our children for longer than an hour made us sweat.

And then, we had to get to St. Louis – an eight-hour drive if we’re lucky. I recently wrote a Mom It Forward guest post talking about road trippin’, specifically escaping from the car on our way to St. Louis and enjoying unexpected stops. But, what about while we’re in the car? How did the kids stay entertained?

I turned to friends and Pinterest (and friends on Pinterest). Who knew…turns out I’m not the first to come up with a list of road trip essentials. I tried a lot of the suggestions from Pinterst (here are two I liked – DIY Home Sweet Home’s plan of attakc for a 16-hour trip and A Year With Mom and Dad’s 101 ideas) and especially liked what friends recommended.

Below are 5 Road Trip Essentials That Entertained My Kids

Melissa and Doug lace1. Melissa and Doug Lace and Trace Sets– I love these things. I picked one up as an impulse buy and it has become essential. My preschooler threaded and rethreaded and knotted and unknotted his set for at least an hour. It did not have the same draw on Mooch, so know that the under 3 crowd isn’t ready for it.

2. Melissa & Doug Water Wow Bundle Animals, Alphabet and Numbers Paint Kit – These were highly recommended by a few of my mom friends, so I got one for each kid. Thank God I did or there would’ve been some fights over it. If you buy one thing, but this! Both kids scribbled in these for a long time. And then once they dried up, they were able to reuse them. For a “coloring” book, this is as mess free as it gets.Water wow

3. Stickers and paper – If you have a toddler, there’s a good chance they have an unhealthy obsession with stickers. You can hand them paper – or a clipboard – but most likely they’ll just cover themselves with stickers. Who cares as long as they’re entertained and not screaming at you?

Any stickers will do – I save some I get in the mail or the ones kids get at the doctor. If your kid is a fan of a character or something, surprise them with stickers of it. Mooch loves dogs and cats, so I can’t go wrong with stickers of these: Eureka Stickerbook – Dogs and Cats Learning Playground Sticker Book

4. Snacks – This is obvious. I bend my own rules when we’re on the road and so I keep an abundance of snacks – salty, sweet, fruit, junk – and hand them out whenever kids get unruly. Things that go over well with my family:

Goldfish Crackers – Get 4 pounds of it for under $20: Pepperidge Farm Baked Goldfish Crackers – 66oz (4.1 lbs)

Fruit snacks – My kids tried Welch’s Fruit Snacks for the first time recently and now they’re hooked. This will be a staple from now on (and not just for road trips – they ask for these most days). Get a variety of them to have rotation, if you want: Welchs Fruit Snacks 36 Count 2.25oz (Mixed Fruit, Berries ‘N Cherries, Strawberry)

Apples – Who knew you could order apples in bulk on Amazon? Fuji Apples – 4 lb

Fruit “Squeezies” – My family isn’t particularly brand-loyal nor flavor-loyal on the fruit squeezable stuff – they’ll inhale anything I hand them. I think they’re made to be portable, but they’re kinda mess with my kids. Nature’s Child Squeezers, SpongeBob Grape, 3.17-Ounce (Pack of 60)

M&Ms – Doled out responsibly. Under $12 for 3.5 pounds, check it: M&M Candy, Milk Chocolate, 56 Ounce

5. Books – And lots of them. I brought library books they hadn’t read yet as well as a few of their favorites. Lift-the-flap keeps youngster self-entertained for a little while, but I ended up reading books while twisted uncomfortably from the front seat. Farley’s birthday was not long after the St. Louis trip and received an electronic reader and I totally wish I had it with us. At 4, he’s able to understand how it works. They come in different themes (like Disney). Here’s the one he got: Thomas & Friends Me Electronic Reader and 8-Book Library

What are some of your road trip essentials?

Disclosure: I received complimentary Welch’s Fruit Snacks to sample and write about. All opinions expressed in this post are mine. This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing an item through an affiliate link does not cost you extra, it simply helps bloggers like me keep writing about the things we love.


  1. The LeapPad is definitely on our list. I make sure batteries are charged and I load it with a bunch of new apps and books before a trip. Make sure you’ve got your car plug — because the batteries can wear out on a long trip… and headphones come in handy too 🙂 I love to hear my toddler singing songs, taking pictures and laughing at the stories!

  2. Good music! I like satellite radio because you never have to change the channel but if you can’t do that then take a long a lot of CDs or your ipod/MP3 player with a hookup in the car so you can listen through the stereo.

    • I’m always envious when I ride with family members who have satellite. We just have Spotify, so we load up a playlist to have some music for long car rides.

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