As summer winds down, many families are hitting the road with one last trip
celebrating freedom before school starts for another school year.  Then, all too quickly, the holidays will be upon us and many will travel to visit family.  There are also many other reasons you may be traveling with your children.  As you think of spending hours in a car with your child and having to answer the question “are we there yet?” for the hundredth time, you may want to run and hide! 
It may send shivers up your spine as you tremble at the thought.

I remember when we moved from Illinois to Michigan my son was 2 years old.  He and I traveled alone in caravan with my husband who lead the way in his car pulling a U-haul trailer.  I was driving a truck pulling a stock trailer full of livestock.  The trip was about 7 hours long and we had to travel on interstates through the Chicago area.  I was terrified!  As we pulled out of our driveway to start the journey, my mom thoughtfully handed me a cardboard box that copy paper had been purchased in.  I gave her a questioning look.  She smiled reassuringly and told me to reach in and pull out a package every time my son got squirmy.  The box was filled with small toys and snacks (cars, etch-a-sketch-books, snacks, juice boxes, etc.) all wrapped in newsprint – mostly comic papers.  So, we hit the road and the presents began to appear.  Just before entering the heavy city traffic, I filled my lap with newsprint covered gifts.  As protests sounded from the passenger’s seat I whipped over another gift!  It worked perfectly!   Each new gift brought on the wonder and delight of unwrapping and playing for a few more miles.  And eventually, we neared our new home.  When at last I wearily pulled into our new driveway and released my son from the prison of his car seat, he jumped out with glee.  The ONLY space not covered with shredded newspaper was where we were sitting. But, the plan had worked.  All those little gifts made the trip fun and bearable.  (yes, not to fret, we stopped to stretch, eat and gas up along the way too.)

Now this would be a great idea for your kids on trips.  The presents do not have to be new.  Of course, Grandma provided new things on our trip.  But, they can be your child’s favorite toys, or ones they have not played with in awhile.  The mystery and fun of opening the presents provides double the fun and gives children the anticipation of what might be next.  Make a rule… open a gift every hour or half hour, depending on your child’s age, attention span and the distance you are traveling.

There are many other fun ways to entertain children on long trips or

during times when they have to sit quietly for long periods of time. 

Below are a few activity ideas to help get your creative thoughts flowing. 

Remember to match up activities with your children’s
interests, ages, stage of development
  and as always keep safety in mind! 

1.   Many wonderful ideas can be found on my pinterest board :
         Traveling/Quiet Activities for Children
       Follow the link below for dozens of ideas.

While you are on this Pinterest board, check out the other fun boards for children’s activities and parenting thoughts and ideas.

2.  A large variety of ideas can be found in the book:  Miraculous, Magical Moments in Minutes:  Over 500 Quick, Easy Activities for Adults and Children to Share by Becky B. Baxa available from

Be creative.  What activities do you like?  How can you adapt them for car travel? 

  Here are a sample of ideas
from the book Miraculous, Magical Moments in Minutes:

  • “When traveling, let your child be the navigator. Teach them how to tell what town is next, how many miles to the next town, the population of that town.  Have your child read the directions to your destination and help look for street signs.
  • Count railroad cars while waiting for a train to pass.  How many different kinds of railroad cars are on the train?
  • Identify license plates—how many states can you find?  How many from each state? 
  • Copy a lap size map of the United States before leaving home. Clip this onto a clipboard.  Teach children how to make hash marks.  Mark the state with the marks each time you see a license plate from that state. Younger children can color in the state as a  license plate is spotted.
  • Alphabet spy game.  Follow the alphabet A to Z (omit X and Z). Players must spy an object that starts with the letter of the alphabet before going on to the next letter.  You can also play this with signs.  Spying a sign that has the letter you are looking for.”

3.  Want to try something right now, and not have to follow a link or gather supplies/materials?
      This simple activity literally takes a minute or less to set up.  All you need is a permanent
      marker (for adult use only!).

     Hand Puppets
     Draw a face on the side of your hand using your thumb to operate the puppet’s mouth, or make
     fun finger puppet people or animals by drawing faces on the ends of each finger.   See photos
     below.  If  you want to get fancy use different color markers.  Keep in mind that kids don’t care
     how well you draw, so don’t let this hold you back.  Three simple dots and a curved smile are just
     as much fun as more complex drawings.

     Another idea:   draw a face on one or two of your fingers and one or two on your child’s fingers. 
     Puppets can engage in conversation or dialogue for as long as the attention span lasts.  Maybe
     your finger puppets would like to sing and/or dance and put on a “show”. 

Your imagination creates the limits for this activity!
Hand Puppet – mouth is operated by your thumb
photo property of Hidden Splendor ©

Finger puppet family – see “Spot” the family dog on the thumb?  This family has a mom, dad, brother and sister.  You can make your finger puppet family match the people that compose your family unit. 
photo property of Hidden Splendor ©

Happy Travels!

Inspired from the book:
Miraculous, Magical Moments in Minutes:

Over 500 Quick, Easy Activities for Adults and Children to Share

by Becky Baxa
Available from
in both Kindle and Paperback versions


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