Road trip with kids? 10 Screen-free travel toys you'll love
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On non-travel days…
Our house looks like an atomic toy explosion.
It is declared a disaster area each night. A few times, we rope it off and deemed it unfit for the public to enter. Once or twice, we consider condemning the joint.
If you have kids, you know what I mean.
If you don't, it's worse than you can imagine.
You may have a play room full of shelves and baskets brimming with toys.
But what travel activities can you bring along for kids when you’re on a road trip?
On long road trips, parents need fun ideas for activities, but everything needs to be lightweight and fun-packed.
So, what should you bring?
Here are the 4 standards we have for choosing road trip toys for our kids:
When we buy toys for the road we run them through the following 4 questions:
-Are they lightweight?
-Does it encourage movement or activity?
-Does it encourage creativity?
-Does it foster unplugged, screen-free time?
The secret to entertaining kids on a road trip is this: do not let them play with any road trip toys at home! Keep home toys and road trip toys separate. The novelty of the road trip toy will captivate them! And captivated kids make for a happy road trip!
Here are our favorite travel activities and toys for kids who road trip often:
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1. Velcro ball mitts
Why we love it: It’s inexpensive! It fits easily into a backpack and is a quick, simple game to get the road trip wiggles out at a rest-stop or any grassy area where you are waiting.
Find it: Dollar Stores, Walmart
For a cuter version or if you have younger kids, they may enjoy these!
2. Last Mouse Lost Game
Why we love it: It’s bendable and virtually unbreakable…which is a good asset to have in kids travel toys. It’s competitive and makes the adults think, too. We’ve had it for years, and we still play with it!
Find it: Boutique toy stores or Amazon
3. Rainbow loom
What we love: This is great for stimulating the creative side of our kids' brains, while encouraging dexterity. Beware: you’ll find little rubber bands like a trail of bread crumbs in your car and hotel room, but it’s a small price to pay for creative time. Good for older kids 8+ years old.
Find it: Michaels, Hobby Lobby or Amazon
4. Pocket disc knit frisbee
What we love: The best frisbee ever! Play indoors or outdoors. Folds up so easily! It can even get wet. It’s great for busy hands and feet that need to burn off some energy. Also good for beginners. Why? Because getting smacked in the face with this knit frisbee brings zero pain, compared to those plastic frisbees!
Find it: Amazon
5. Jacks set
What we love: Yeah, I’m going ultra vintage here, and I’m not ashamed. Get your kids a ball and some jacks. Teach them the old games you used to play. Or if you never played jacks, look up some videos on youtube. This is some good old-fashioned play-with-your-hands, competition.
Find it: Amazon
6. Marble construction set
What we love: This is a great toy for camping or longer stays at a hotel or Airbnb. It provides a time of quiet play that isn’t screen-related. It also promotes creative building, as you have to build pathways for marbles. Marbles are small, so not recommended for younger kids.
Find it: Amazon or Lakeshore Learning
7. Small Lego box set
What we love: There are the types of toys that we “keep behind glass and break only when there is an emergency”…like massive traffic jams or early mornings in a hotel when parents need extra sleep. We like to hide a small box of Legos for just these kinds of situations.
Find it: Amazon, Walmart or Target
What we love: Need an attention grabber? All you’ll need for this lightweight toy is a piece of paper and some markers. Here’s a plus: this bot teaches kids how to code. Educational and fun? Those are the best kind of travel activities for kids. Buy one for each child, so they can race!
Find it: Amazon
9. Old Maid and other card games
What we love: Great way to incorporate little ones into family games. Easy to understand. No reading required. Easy to pack.
Find it: Dollar Trees or Dollar Stores
10. EiTech Toys
What we love: These kits are small and it comes with all the tools required. Great for those early builders! There are small pieces though, so beware!
Find it: Amazon or Eitech
11. Because we like to overdeliver, here’s a BONUS TOY that keeps curious little travelers ultra-busy:
What we love: Painters tape doesn’t damage carpet or walls, so it’s fun idea to give younger travelers a roll in the hotel after a long day of traveling. They can use it to make roads for their tiny toy cars!
Find it: Walmart, Target, Home Depot
But who are we fooling?
Inevitably, our kids’ favorite travel toys will be items that never made this list.
Things like: a drink carrier from a fast food restaurant.
This kept them busy for hours.