Kid’s Roadtrip Activity Binders

road trip thumbnailSo I mentioned a little while back that we’re driving from Louisiana to Utah in a few weeks. This is brand new territory for me. I came later in my parents’ lives, way after their cross-country road trip days, so we never really did road trips growing up. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we didn’t really have a reliable enough car for much road-tripping, and then, up until this summer, we’ve always been able to find reasonable airfare within 4-5 hours of us.

Until now.

I’ve been checking airfare since the beginning of the year, but the same flights we took last year would cost us 3-4 times as much this summer. Throw in a car rental and we could seriously take a fully-loaded tropical vacation.

So. We’re driving. And I’ve been trying to figure out how we can keep everybody occupied and happy for 27 hours each way in the car (that doesn’t involve 27 hours of fighting or 27 hours of crying or 27 hours of video games, although, to be completely honest, 27 hours of video games sounds better than 27 hours of fighting.)

So I’ve put together a binder of simple activities to keep my kids at least semi-aware of their surroundings.

road trip survival kit for kids from Our Best Bites

 

None of them are exactly earth-shattering (although one of my favorite and last memories of my mom is a rather epic round of the license plate game that took months before we finally tracked down Hawaii), but I’ve put them all in one place and used cute fonts. So, you know, the essentials. This is the map I used (it can either be just a reference–I’m having my kids color each state we visit); be sure to check out the whole site–it’s full of ADORABLE printables and activities. Everything else can be found here in this pdf:

Kid’s Road Trip Survival Guide from Our Best Bites

You’re going to need …

  • 1 3-Ring Binder per child
  • Sheet protectors
  • Pencil Pouch
  • Various drawing/writing tools (I used pens, washable markers, and colored pencils)
  • Scissors
  • Glue Sticks
  • Postcard stamps (optional—if you want to send postcards to friends or yourself)
  • Money for postcards
  • Pencil sharpener for colored pencils
  • Paper, cardstock, and/or lined paper
  • Stickers for the road trip scavenger hunt
  • Map of the United States
  • Kid’s Road Trip Survival Guide from Our Best Bites

Find a sturdy pencil pouch that has three holes and will fit into a 3-ring binder:

kid road trip survival kit-4Kid Road Trip Binders

Fill it with a glue stick or two, scissors, postcard stamps, money for postcards, markers (I was able to raid my kids’ school supplies, used and unused),

kid road trip survival kit-7

colored pencils,

kid road trip survival kit-6

pens,

kid road trip survival kit-3

and stickers for the scavenger hunt.

kid road trip survival kit-8

Place the filled pencil bag at the front of the binder.

kid road trip survival kit-10

Place the scavenger hunt, license plate game, map, postcard passport, art gallery, and vacation journal pages in sheet protectors (I put the scavenger hunt on the front and the license plate game on the back of one sheet protector, then put the map opposite the license plate game so my kids could see where different states are on the map.)

kid road trip survival kit-11 kid road trip survival kit-12

After the postcard passport, put several pieces of cardstock so kids can glue the postcards onto it. The Art Gallery goes next, followed by several sheets of plain white paper, then the vacation journal followed by lined paper.

I’ve gotten some awesome tips on road trips so far, but now that I’ve shared these binders, I’m basically begging for your very best tips to keep all of us sane! We’re going to need them!

 

48 comments

  1. Great idea! I gave all the kids in our lives these for either Christmas or birthdays one year. They all loved them and still use them today! Good luck with your road trip!

  2. Other ideas:

    Stop at rest areas and use the playground, or find a small town park right off the highway so the kiddos can burn off some energy.

    Books – either the kind they can read themselves, or a book you can read to them (or have on tape) to pass the time. My kids are big now and read on their own, but books like Harry Potter or Boxcar Children or whatnot are good to just listen to (if you don’t mind reading aloud, that is).

    Someone else mentioned snacks. We did homemade munch-mix, dried fruit, 100-calorie packs for snacks so we wouldn’t have to buy any and brought a small cooler filled with juice boxes or waters. The cooler even doubled as a tabletop between the boys for dice or cards or little pokemon guys.

    Let the kids pack their own, small, toy bag. We gave the boys a cinch bag and they could bring whatever fit inside – stuffed animals, matchbox cars, transformers, etc. Each kid was responsible for their stuff and all items must be in the bag when we stop for the evening and when we are ready to leave the hotel in the morning. Lost items are the owner’s fault.

    Outside the car games – like the license plate or I-spy or the alphabet game are great. You really burn up the miles playing them and they are always different each time so they never get boring.

    Best of luck – and have fun – on your road trip!!

  3. My kids WON’T sleep in the car, so we usually don’t get up early. We just have crabby kids if we do that. We do let them watch movies, but usually they get bored anyway. I try and pack things they don’t get often, color by number pages, giant coloring books, those little magic pen books (like little activity books, but you have to have the special orange pen?). I do remember taking a trip down the coast of Oregon with my family when I was nine. My parents took my backpack and filled it with presents! Every few hours I would get to open something new. Most of it was really cheap dollar store stuff, but I also got a new book, and a new My Little Pony. It gave me something to do, and I had something to look forward to. I haven’t done it with my boys, because our road trips are usually only about six hours and they are fine for that long. Have fun!

  4. Dollar store toys in a bag. Grab one out each hour! Start driving at three in the morning. That way you’ve had 5 hours of sleep and aren’t a zombi. The kids will sleep for the first 4-5 hours of traveling and then there’s a breakfast break after the first long stretch. Then you can go for 5 more hours until lunch. I wouldn’t let them turn on a movie until after lunch at 1. Then they could have an hour and then a break for an hour and so on. We did this all the time on our trips from OKC to Utah and it worked like a charm on the 18 hour straight through drive!

  5. I’ve road-tripped alone with three kids before and we actually had a surprisingly good time! My kids are all too young for this (don’t ask what possessed me to have three kids so close together that none of them can read yet:) but we did some other things that may work for your toddler. This may sound lame, but I totally had a road-trip schedule: get up @ 4:30 a.m. and drive before breakfast, stop for breakfast and get dressed/brush teeth/do hair, drive and do activities/snacks, take a longish break for lunch/potty, put kids in pull-ups and have them do nap time while we get 2-3 hours driving done, stop for early dinner, drive for a few more hours, and then stop at a hotel and swim and go to bed. We always tried to be done driving by 7 p.m. It seemed like that was the most the kids could handle. We would do this everyday on the road and the kids did really well with it! My toddlers really loved Disney sing-a-long cd’s I would burn for them, sticker books, touch and feel board books, those magic coloring pages by Melissa and Doug (you know – the marker doesn’t color on anything but the special paper and it makes colors and pictures appear?) and of course tons of awesome snacks we don’t normally buy! When I road-trip by myself, I usually just plan on stopping real fast on the side of the road every 30-45 minutes to change out activities and snacks. Good Luck! Road-tripping with kids can be a lot of fun. My mom used to drive all 7 of us kids from Philadelphia to Utah every summer BY HERSELF! She made it so fun and they are some of my sibling and I’s BEST memories!

    1. Emily, that is so inspiring! Rock on, girl! I have two kids, ages 2 & 3, and we’ve got a 13-hour drive awaiting us next week. Your schedule is awesome, and I’m going to “borrow” most of these ideas 🙂

  6. Great ideas!!!! Thank you! We live 8 hours (800km) from major cities so make long trips fairly often! Love all the comments on this post too!!!

  7. We drove from Massachusetts to Washington State when my oldest kids were almost five and 2, because we were moving. We did not have a DVD player, but my oldest had a leapster (which he used maybe twice)-there was so much going on that he was engaged and happy-the almost two year old slept maybe three hours the.whole.trip. (But he didn’t cry, so I won’t complain)-we did the a-z game which my kids actually still love to play on the road (9,6 and 2 now) and we packed a huge cooler with picnic supplies and made sure we ate lunch at parks or rest stops with green space, giving the kids a good fifteen minutes to RUN and it was actually great (plus you weren’t stuck with fast food which is fun for a great, but not in abundance). I honestly dreaded the long drive but it was totally fine! Your binder is awesome and I’m going to use it next time! Having some books they each like and my boys are Lego crazy so a small Lego tray with a few figures gets us a long way on trips these days. Plus, I know you’ve blogged about road trip snacks before and I totally agree that an un-hungry kid is a happy kid. You’re going to have a great time! (Flight prices are crazy all around this year!!)

  8. We took our first road trip last year, from VA to UT and back, with kids ages 11, 6, 3 and not quite 2. I spent about a month on Pinterest, pinning and preparing things to do. “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”, right? It actually went surprisingly well and the kids wanted to go on another when we got back! You can find all sorts of activities and ideas online, and you’ll know what would probably work for you crew, but my big tips are:

    Take it slow. We took 6 days each way so that we could stop at the Natural Bridge, St Louis Zoo, Cahokia Mounds, Liberty Jail, Carthage and Nauvoo, and other random local attractions. And we had a 9-day rest in Utah, with a family reunion at Bear Lake and a few days at Park City, etc. I tried to plan the travel time for each day so it wouldn’t be exhausting. And I made sure a hotel with a pool was waiting for us at the end of each day, with time to swim- this was huge for the kids, since we don’t have membership to any pools around here. I also made sure that breakfast was included with each night at a hotel, so we needn’t waste morning travel time (when everyone is rested and pleasant) by looking for that.

    Change seats. Every day we changed where the kids sat and who they sat by. It helps that my oldest can sit in the front now, so sometimes my husband or I was in the 2nd or 3rd row.

    Download audio books and buy or borrow new movies. (We only allowed 1 movie per day, and we did not have any internet access or video games in the car.)

    I printed a map of the whole route (with every overnite stop and attraction labeled, etc.) big enough that it took 10 pieces of paper to print and tape together. Then I attached it to the ceiling of the car and got a laser pointer to show the kids our progress. I did not hear a single “are we there yet?” They would ask me to point out where we were and they could see where the next destination was.

    I had a big tub full of activities that were new to them (thank you, Pinterest) and I spaced out the presentation of them. I had a decent-sized cooler for lunch on the road (money and time saver, although we did often pull over to picnic at a local park), dinner was always eating out. I also had a bag full of surprises (candy, stickers, little toys, etc) that were wrapped and each time we stopped, those whose clip had not been removed from the visor for misbehavior got to open and enjoy one.

    It will be an awesome opportunity for memories. If you want to take a closer look at my road trip prep posts and my report of the trip, let me know. Good luck!

    1. Sounds similar to what we do and we have a great time with the kids! I agree the most important thing is to just take it slow, don’t get rushed, and realize that this is for the kids too 🙂

    2. My blog (mostly just for letting grandparents know what we’re doing, so don’t expect much) is nlhawkes(dot)blogspot(dot)com- it’s not private, but I have it set so that search engines don’t crawl it for a little more privacy, so you have to know the address to get there. Just click on the “road trip” tag in the tag cloud and you’ll get 6-7 hits, and 4-5 of them refer to the trip I speak of.

      My pinterest board for the trip is at http://www.pinterest.com/lynnessh/to-do-on-our-big-road-trip/

  9. Those look so fun. We have a road trip coming up also. I am not sure my kids are old enough for these yet. But they are super cute ideas!

      1. My son will be 2 in August, when we will drive 2 days each way to visit my family… I’m already wondering what I was thinking! If you do think of great ideas for 2-year-olds, please, please post those! My older kids love new school supplies, so I think this binder is a great idea and I’ll bookmark it.

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