Travel Games for Toddlers

Cynthia Dermody
Toddlers & Preschoolers
speed limit sign

Photo by Shinde-Kudasai

My husband recently got back from a looong plane trip with our two kids to visit family in Europe. He survived, but trying to occupy two toddlers who aren't used to sitting in one place for more than 6 seconds, let alone 6 hours, is a challenge I wouldn't wish on anyone.

The portable DVD player definitely saved him -- as it has on some recent car trips we've taken, too. But even that couldn't hold my kids short attention span more than a few hours. So that we're better prepared the next time we hit the road, I scouted around for some fun travel games and activities. Here are a few I found on CafeMom and elsewhere -- let me know if you have any to add, and I'll be sure to put them on my itinerary!

Treasure Bottles

Fill a large soda bottle or clean peanut butter jar 2/3 full with uncooked rice or birdseed. Toss in about 25 small objects, like plastic bugs, buttons, M&Ms, nuts, bolts, paper clips etc. Keep count of how many there are, and write the number on the outside of the jar or bottle. Fasten the lid tightly. Let the kids take turns rolling the bottle around in their hands until they find all the items.

Photo Contests

BabyBugsmama gives her kids disposable cameras and asks them to take pictures of different sights and scenes on the road. Or you can invest in a kids digital camera ($30-$70) and save money on developing film.

Who Am I? Game

Think of someone you know, either a friend or a relative. Give a few hints like, "She has blond hair and glasses." Let everyone go around one time with their guess. If no one gets it, offer another hint like, "She laughs funny."


ogielove says these classic plastic pieces stick to car and plane windows as well as on the Colorform board.

Mini Car Racetrack

Draw a racetrack on the inside of a shoe box before you leave, or ask the child to draw one as you're driving.

The Rainbow Game

Call out a color to find. Ask the older kids to find five things while the 2 year old looks for one. Pink and purple are the hardest!

Household Art

TessLouise gives her children pipe cleaners and aluminum foil to twist and turn into their own creations.

How do your kids take to traveling on long trips? What's your cure for ants-in-the-pants?

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