At almost three years of age, my two little munchkins have had their fair share of road trips. With family in North Carolina and family friends in bordering states, my twins are no strangers to long car rides. For preschoolers, they actually do pretty well, but I’ve noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to keep them occupied.

If you haven’t seen my road trip video, be sure to watch it. As a relatively new – and apparently clueless – parent, I forgot to bring activities for the kiddies on a six hour road trip. The insanity that ensued was quite epic. Needless to say, I learned my lesson from that road trip parenting fail and decided that on the next go-round I would get a clue and get creative.

Our next road trip was a six hour jaunt up I20 to go see “Pop-pop” (AKA my daddy) in Wilmington, North Carolina. I ended up putting together two awesome road trip activity packages that were an absolute hit.

With the holiday travel season fast approaching, you’ll find that the following two road trip activities are easy ways to keep your kids occupied when heading off to see friends or family.

Magnet Chalkboard Travel Tray

What you’ll need:

  • A cookie sheet
  • Chalkboard spray paint
  • Plastic baggies
  • Accessories: chalk, fun magnets, magnet clips



Grab your cookie sheet and chalkboard paint and head outside. Spray the front of your cookie sheet in long even strokes until it’s completely covered. (No need to do the bottom unless you’re a type A personality and feel the need to be thorough.) You’ll probably need to do the spraying 3 or 4 days out from your trip. It will dry completely in a few hours but the smell lingers for a few days.


Once your tray is completely dry, it’s as simple as adding some fun magnets and chalk and you’re done. I went with letter magnets and placed them and the chalk in separate baggies. I attached the baggies to the tray with super cute round magnet clips.


My twins absolutely loved this. It kept them occupied for a little over an hour. Good stuff. 🙂



Mile Marker Grab Bag

What you’ll need:

  • About 10 bucks
  • A local dollar store
  • Wrapping paper or tissue paper
  • 1 bag or container


Head out to your local dollar store sans the kids and armed with about 5 to 10 bucks. Purchase a few age-appropriate toys. Head home with your loot and wrap each item in whatever wrapping paper or tissue paper that you’ve got laying around the house.


Once you’re done, place your wrapped items in a bag or container and put it somewhere handy in your car. Once you get on the road you can allow your kid(s) to pick an item during the course of the trip. You can do it every 100 miles, or maybe at each rest stop. Whenever my twins started getting a little antsy, or whiny (which was about every hour) I let them choose another item.


The amount of toys that you decide to purchase will be determined by how far you’re going. I bought 6 toys for each child which ended up being perfect. Preschoolers don’t need much to be amused for a bit. I bought cute little things like clown noses and silly glasses, board books, and stickers. They had a ball unwrapping their items and discovering what new treasure lay inside. I was tickled to see their tiny faces light up each time they were able to choose a “treat”.




* * *

You’d be surprised to find that it doesn’t take much to keep small children occupied during a long car trip. All it takes is a little planning and a bit of creativity and you can earn yourself a little quiet time and tons of preserved sanity.




  1. AB
    March 20, 2015 at 1:45 pm — Reply

    Your children are not buckled in properly – not even close. If there was an accident, they would not be safe. Please tighten their straps and lift the chest piece to the chest.

    • March 23, 2015 at 11:56 pm — Reply


      They are no longer in those car seats, but I appreciate your concern! 🙂

What's on your mind?....

©Arielle Nadel
Previous post

How to Keep from Bringing 'Cooties' Home to Your Family This Cold and Flu Season

Next post

LeapFrog LeapTV : The Only Video Gaming System your 3 to 8-year-old Needs