We travel a lot because many of our friends and family members don’t live nearby. Some live closer than others. And some months I feel like we are always on the move.
Traveling with toddlers is a different beast. Many are not yet self-sufficient and often lack the ability to reason. That is to say: toddlers are unpredictable and need a lot of attention.
Recently we took a day trip to Philadephia. ZJ is now 27 months old and we needed to fill the three-hour ride (each way).
It was time to rethink our travel toys for our son. He has grown so much since the last time we took a road trip!
So I revised our packing list to accommodate a messy, and sometimes fickle boy. The toys that work best for us are ones that include stickers, magnets, cars or stories (movies, books, etc).
Here are nine key things we now include on our travel list:
- Re-usable stickers. Melissa and Doug’s reusable sticker kit is perfect. Featuring cars, animals and dinosaurs, what more could a toddler want? They can be recycled for the next trip.
- Magnetic Fun – Cars Planes and Trains. This has quickly become one of my son’s favorite toys. It’s a small magnetic case with endless number of magnets to play with. It’s more compact than the re-usable sticker book (if space is a problem). If your kid is still prone to stick tiny things in his mouth, some of the magnets are tiny. Just be careful. Here’s an alternative: bring a cookie sheet with your own magnets.
- Melissa and Doug’s Water Wow. This coloring book is awesome. Just fill up the pen with water and when you draw, the pages come to life. It’s a no-mess alternative to coloring. Now if only the pen came attached to the pad…
- A few favorite cars. Our son loves just holding on to his favorites while in the car. We like this because when we stop for gas, or we get to our destination, he is ready to play with them.
- The Leapfrog Junior Reader. A Leapfrog reader is a great way to get book time in while in the car. Regular books work just as well too!
- Portable DVD player. We recently invested in car dvd players that easily attach to the back of the front seats.
- Apps. My favorite are PBS Kids apps.
- Snacks. Bring a mixture of healthy and fun snacks. We pack yogurt packets and string cheese in our cooler, but also have some animal crackers and jelly beans to mix it up.
- Doggie. This is a given, but bring your kid’s favorite stuffed animal, blanket, pillow, toy, etc. Doggie (as we call him) comes with us everywhere and provides comfort in new situations. We are slowly weaning him off doggie but he is a life saver right now!
For our trip to Philly, I used a clear stadium bag to pack his toys so we could both see what was available to play with.
We have longer trips coming up this summer — an eight-hour car ride to North Carolina and a cross-country trip to Seattle. This shorter trip gave me a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Traveling with a toddler can be both exciting and exhausting at the same time. We try to make sure we have a variety of fun things to do, just in case!