toddler road trip

How to Keep Toddlers Busy in the Car – Road Trip Toys & Activities

Now that the world is beginning to open up again, many people are itching to take a vacation. Car rides with toddlers can be a nightmare if your little one doesn’t like their carseat…and even when they do, long drives are hard on everyone. Especially toddlers. Typically if your toddler isn’t happy on a road trip, no one is going to be happy. So how can you keep the whole family happy? I pulled together a list of some great toys and activities that will keep your toddler content for your big trip!

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Travel Toys & Activities to Keep Toddlers Busy

Car trips with toddlers
Road Trips with Toddlers

Tablet / iPad

I have to include this because to be frank, it’s the easiest and one of the most effective options to keep toddlers entertained on a road trip. Even if you don’t usually allow your kids much (or any) screen time, you may want to consider stretching that rule a bit if you have a very long drive. I mean look at that happy kid above with her tablet!

You can load up your kids tablet with educational games or toddler friendly TV shows. Especially if your little ones don’t typically get much screen time, this will be sure to draw their attention for some time and allow you to focus on the road. We love the Amazon Fire Kids Edition because they are less expensive than other tablets and come in a kid proof case (so you don’t have to worry as much about it getting broken). They have 12 hours of battery life and if you have Amazon Prime, you’ll already have access to a free library of thousands of movies and shows for your little one to watch.

Mess Free Coloring

crayons set for coloring on a road trip
Photo by Anthony on

Most kids simply love to color or draw, and it can keep them occupied for long periods of time. For a car ride, you’ll want to find something that’s mess free (unless you enjoy scrubbing car seats) and isn’t likely to get dropped (or else you’ll just get a tantrum when that happens). Fortunately there are some great travel coloring options out there:

Melissa & Doug On The Go Water Wow!

The Melissa & Doug On The Go Water Wow! books include a pen filled with water to “magically” color the images. One thing we really love about these it that they are reusable! Once they dry, the color disappears and the image can be colored again. Both of our kids still love coloring these books. They’re also small and portable, which makes them great for travel.

Crayola Color Wonder Coloring Books & Markers

The Crayola Color Wonder Stow & Go option including color wonder coloring pages, color wonder markers, and a Stow & Go container for storage and to use as a board to color on. While these pages are not reusable, the great thing about them is that the marker only works on the color wonder paper. So no worrying about your toddler destroying your car! You can find color wonder coloring books of nearly every popular character as well, so if your child is really into princesses or paw patrol, there are tons of options for you.

Magnetic Drawing Board by Gamenote

Magnetic Travel Coloring Board
Magnetic Coloring Board

This Gamenote Magnetic Drawing Board for Toddlers is a magnetic board made of plastic. The inside is filled with magnetic colored powder. It includes an attached pen and magnetic stamps that can be used to draw on the pad. It also easily erases with a swipe. Another great option that kids seem to really love!

Doodle Boards

Another great option for letting your toddlers draw in the car without creating a mess are these doodle boards / writing tablets. They come with a pen and a place the pen pops in for secure storage. They are easy to draw on and erases at the press of a button. They’re also great because there is no glare in the sun. Also the thickness of the line when you draw is dependent on pressure, just like using a real writing utensil. The one downside is the thin pen can be more difficult for younger toddlers to grasp, so keep that in mind.

Disney Magic Ink Coloring Books

These Disney Magic Ink Coloring Books are a super affordable option for mess-free coloring on the go. They operate on the same principle as many of the other “mess free” coloring books. The marker only works on the pages, so your toddler won’t be coloring the inside of your car on your trip. These are super small and are a great choice for stuffing in a backpack anywhere you think you may be waiting for a bit.

Entertaining Toys

There are also tons of great toys out there that are designed to be portable, yet provide lots of entertainment for young kids. Here are a few of our favorite options.

Busy Boards

Busy Board for traveling
Ysagi Busy Board

There are tons of busy board options out there. These are Montessori based toys with lots of activities included, such as clipping together clips, tying up laces, buckling buckles, etc. Toddlers really do love these and can play with them for hours at a time.

Reusable Stickers

What little kid doesn’t adore stickers? But you probably don’t want stickers on all of your windows of your car that you need to peel off. Enter reusable stickers that peel right off. We love these puffy stickers by Melissa & Doug. They come with a board that opens up (and velcros shut) and even has a handle for carrying on the top.

Paint by Sticker

Staying on the sticker theme, another really cool option I just found is these paint by sticker books. You simply peel the stickers and place by number (sort of like paint by number, but with stickers). These are for older kids 5 and up, but they are so neat that I had to share.

Playfoam Go!

travel playfoam toy for toddlers
Playfoam Go

This Educational Insights Playfoam Go! set is for ages 3 and up. It includes 8 different colors of playfoam bricks in a carrying case, making it a great option for sculpting and squishing on the go. The top of the case features 4 built in molds. The playfoam is non-toxic and never dries out.

Magnetic Maze Puzzle Games

This HABA Town Maze Magnetic Puzzle Game is a great travel game for toddlers that is sure to keep them engaged on a road trop. There are also tons of similar options out there. The object of this fun travel maze game is to use the magnet pen to help the colored balls find their way home to their matching color garage.

Games to Play

Another option (that may require a bit of your attention too) is to play some road trip games. A few popular ones are:

  • Scavenger Hunt
    • The object of this game is to find various objects you’d expect to see on a road trip (a motorcycle, a stop sign). We’ve done this by printing a page with objects that my kids could cross off as they find them. You can also buy pre-made cards here.
  • I Spy
    • No surprise twist here, just the classic I Spy game.
  • License Plate Game
    • Try to find license plates from each state. You can even buy this cute board to fill out as you find them to give a more game like feel.


A great way to keep kids entertained without relying on screens is to play audiobooks. Audible is the leading provider of audiobooks and has tons of great options for kids.


Another option, if you can stand it, is listening to kid friendly music on the ride. I personally can only take this for so long on a roadtrip, but it does keep them happy and entertained.


I dont know about your kids, but never seem to want to eat their meals, but are constantly begging for snacks. Pack up the car with some great healthy snacks that your kids can munch on during the trip. It probably won’t keep them entertained for super long periods of time, but at least it will stop the “I’m hungry” whines from the back. A great option to keep snacks mess free is a travel tray that clips around your car seat (it’s also great for some of the coloring activities too!)

Thanks for stopping by! Do you have any fun road trip games or activities that I left out? If so, leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out my post on 10 Fun games that you’ll actually want to play with your kids.

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