The summer road trip. It’s a favorite childhood memory for many –  the freedom, scenic landscapes, and wacky roadside attractions. But along with those beloved memories, summer road trips can also mean sibling disputes and backseat whining, turning your perfect vacation into hell on wheels. Although difficulties will always arise when traveling with kids, it can also be a whole lot of fun if you have the right attitude and the right stuff! Here are a few of the best distractions, also known as TOYS, to keep kids, from babies and toddlers to tweens, entertained during road trips. Happy travels!

Road tripping in the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander. photo credit: Andrea Guthmann

Road tripping in the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander. photo credit: Andrea Guthmann

 

We recently enjoyed a Great Lakes road trip in a 2016 Mistubishi Outlander. With three kids and a dog, it was a challenge! Here’s how I kept our dream vacation from becoming hell on wheels:

Toys for Pre-School Kids:

Photo courtesy: Just Play Toy Manufacturers

Photo courtesy: Just Play Toy Manufacturers

Stuffed Animals

Every little kid can use something soft and cuddly for a long ride. This light up Care Bear can be wonderful entertainment when you’re driving in the dark. It glows in the dark without any batteries. What a comfort for those long nighttime drives. Glow-A-Lot Care Bear $20

strawberry

Dolls

Some kids like having a doll around for the ride. Smaller Barbie-doll style dolls don’t take up much space and their clothing and accessories can keep tiny hands busy and their big minds entertained. This Strawberry shortcake doll is even scented which can also be a fun diversion. Strawberry Shortcake Fashion Dolls $10

photo courtesy Funrise Manufacturers

photo courtesy Funrise Manufacturers

 

Bubbles

Don’t forget to bring some playthings for pit stops too. The bubble blaster provides plenty of fun when you stop along your route for a picnic. The Gazillion Bubbles Hurricane Blaster will keep kids busy while you read the landmark signs or prepare lunch.
Travel Toys for Grade School Children:

Micro Kickboard Maxi Scooter photo courtesy: Micro Kickboard

Micro Kickboard Maxi Scooter photo courtesy: Micro Kickboard

Scooter

Is your child too big for a stroller, but too young to keep up with the walking on vacation? Whether your road trip involves sightseeing in a big city, a beach or camping trip, making sure young kids can keep up with the rest of the gang, can be a challenge. One clever solution? A packable scooter that makes sightseeing and long walks fun and easy.

A mile can be a pleasant walk for an adult; for a kid, it can feel like the long march. But a mile on a scooter feels like a breeze, even for little kids.

Travel and sightseeing also seems like more fun when you have a scooter, and it gives kids something to do with their downtime. A scooter can provide kids with a way to burn off some energy when they’re tired of hanging around the adults. This Micro Kickboard Maxi Scooter ($140) folds up, so takes up very little space in the trunk.

Shopville Town Center, photo courtesy: The Bridge Direct $35

Shopville Town Center, photo courtesy: The Bridge Direct $35

Shopkins

The newest craze among grade school kids are Shopkins. My eight year old daughter is obsessed with these tiny toys. I love that they’ve now combined this trendy toy with the classic Lego. My daughter spent hours recently enthralled by the Lego directions, building this Shopkins mini-mall. If you have a van with tray tables, this inexpensive toy would bring hours of whine-free time. Shopville Town Center, The Bridge Direct $35.

Sky Viper Nano Drone, photo courtesy: Sky Rocket Toys

Sky Viper Nano Drone, photo courtesy: Sky Rocket Toys

 

 

 

Travel Toys for Tweens: 

Drones

Drones are a huge craze right now and can provide lots of fun at rest stops or picnic areas. This is a great toy for a tween. The Sky Viper Nano Drone is small and budget-friendly. $39

Before embarking on your road trip, fill a bin with a few new toys. As we all know, children tire of their toys quickly. Imagine the excitement they’ll feel when an hour or two into the journey, you unveil a new toy they’ve never experienced. Even better if you can find the time to wrap it! One of the grown-ups occasionally sitting in the back seat and reading with the kids is another distraction. Audio books are another great way to pass the time.

Almost all parents (including me!) eventually give in to the peace and quiet that electronic gadgets provide. Consider limiting the screen time a bit before the trip so your kids will be excited to once again have electronic entertainment, and you won’t feel as guilty about letting them indulge, when you really need it.

What do you think are the best travel toys, activities or games for kids? Let us know in the comments!