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Road trip activities that don't involve a screen?

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

I'm mostly looking for ideas for 1 yo dd. we are buying a used gameboy advance for ds because I'm not willing to fight the no screen time battle on a 1400 mile road trip.


So far I have stamping sets for both kids, some kind of magnetic toy (sort of like magna doodle but there's a face that you decorate), stickers and books.


I am going to make lacing cards for the kids, but with all the other stuff I have to do I seem to be out of creative brain cells. Any other ideas? we have a netbook and we will probably turn on something for the kids at some point but there's no way it will be sufficient entertainment for 21 hrs, not would I want them watching it for 21 hrs.


We're leaving at 10 PM and will stop for breakfast and to run around for an hour or so, then stop again for a late lunch/ to run around, and then hopefully they will sleep their usual 2-3 hr nap in the car, and then we will just have dinner in the car and try to keep them happy  until we get there around 10 that night.


All suggestions and ideas welcome.......I'm looking forward to our first real road trip, but 21 hrs is a long time for a rear facing 1 yr old.

post #2 of 46

I've never done a really long road trip, but when driving longish distances, these things have been useful:

-Kid music.  Plain old, "Wheels-on-the-bus" type music. One favorite CD we have is one with songs with lots of hand motions, was like dancing in the car

-Lots of new library books, preferably strong flap books (especially for the toddler, if she doesn't chew them like my son did...)

-bunch of new little objects/toys, different animals, chunky cars

-never did this, but I think it's a good idea --  safe kid mirrors for them to hold and make faces as themselves

post #3 of 46

I agree about kid music. Repeating the same CD they love will most likely make them happier.


I think you have a great plan to do a lot of the driving at night. Is there anyway to play with a puppet with her with the way the seats are set up?

post #4 of 46

I think you should plan to stop more or at least don't hold your current schedule as set in stone. I am worried your partner will get angry with your kids if they act up or need to run around more. 

post #5 of 46

I found some great children's stories as podcasts on ITunes, and burned them to CDs for the kids to listen to in the car.  They love it.  I highly recommend the BigStoryTime.com collection on iTunes - they are read by a little kid who has the cutest voice ever.  You can download the podcasts for free, then save them to an iTunes playlist and just burn to a CD.

post #6 of 46

what about you? wont you need more potty breaks?


for your one year old - bottles with different kinds of caps she might try to figure out how to open. 

or even pens. 


bottle full of tiny shiny and different materials thing that she can shake (might be noisy for you)


all ur junk mail that she can look at.


you singing.


lots and lots and lots of different kind of snacks they enjoy. different kind of drinks in different cups and sippy and straw cups. 

post #7 of 46

We take a 14-hour trip down the west coast about once or twice a year with DS (now 5) to visit my parents.  We're actually leaving on one of these trips in a couple days. :)  What works best for us is audiobooks.  Our public library has audiobook download rentals for free.  You can download them onto your computer from home and transfer them to an ipod.  Last trip we ended up listening to Stuart Little 3 times!  It really passes the time.  A fb friend also recently posted a link to this website:  www.storynory.com.  It has free audio stories for kids that you can download.  Good luck!

post #8 of 46

By driving all day and night, when are you and DP going to sleep?  I think it will be hard to alternate and keep the kids occupied, in many ways.  I would break the trip up and stay in a hotel, b/c it will be easier on everyone.  If your DP is driving at night and you are sleeping, and then you are driving in the day and he is sleeping, who will be handing things to the kids and such? It's hard to get good rest in a car, IME, and it's a whole lot easier to fall asleep at the wheel if you don't have someone to talk to and help keep you awake.  Plus, the problem is you will both be insanely exhausted by the time you arrive at your destination - and grumpy, I'm sure - while the kids are going to be full of energy after 24 hours cooped up in the car. 


Also, I'd invest in a cheap portable DVD player, but that's just me (and we've done a lot of road trips with kids). I know you said no screen time, but your sanity and theirs might be worth giving that idea up, IMO.


eta: nm, I see you are bringing a netbook - can you download movies/shows to it ahead of time (I'm assuming it doesn't have a built-in DVD/CD player).

post #9 of 46

I saw this mentioned on a blog once, and have recently found that my kids love this - even the littles:  Pipe cleaners.  They can be bent into people, or just messed around with. 

post #10 of 46

We traveled once or twice a year with my three for 996 miles one way with no screens whatsoever, ever.  yeah, I'm that mom.  My 14 yo ds made his first trip when he was 10 days old(his sister was 29 months). We do audio books, magna doodles, color wonder paper for the non pukers, car bingo, eye spy, and the ABC game (find signs that begin with each letter in order A-Z).  My guys are the best riders ever now.  My boys and I did two massive road trips this year for my oldest son's hockey team and they were the only ones that saw the sights as they zoooomed by - world's largest cow statue anyone?

post #11 of 46

That sounds like you are headed for a miserable experience.  Is the trip for fun or do you need to be at your destination that immediately?

post #12 of 46

Whatever your 1yo likes to do, bring it in the car. :)  It's sooo personality specific what they would enjoy.  We play word games, lots of kid CD repetition (and I also listen to what I like and they nap :)), hot wheels, books, magnadoodle, snacks like cheerios...



post #13 of 46

We do road trips often.  My "no screen time" went out the window when my ds was 10 months old and we moved across the country, by car.  I am very screen friendly now and if your kids like watching shows, I highly suggest it for your long trip.  Also, playing video games in the car makes my ds carsick, so be prepared for that too.   Even if tv is outside of how you normally do things, in the car it's whatever gets you thru the trip, yk?  We go visit family 700 miles away.  It is about a 12 hour drive if you mapquest it.  We [i]can[/i] marathon it, and did it when dd was 3 weeks old, and ds was 3 years.  But it is long and hard on everybody and ideally we break it up into 2 days of travel.  And this is coming from someone who has kids who handle time in the car insanely well.  You need to be prepared to stop anywhere at anytime.  Having an idea of the stops you will make is fine, but be prepared to stop way more often than you mentioned originally.  Make the trip itself part of the experience, don't make it all about the final destination.  Have money set aside for a hotel, or two.  Don't eat meals in the car, use it as a chance to get out and let the kids stretch. 

post #14 of 46


Originally Posted by unfrozncavegrl View Post

That sounds like you are headed for a miserable experience.  Is the trip for fun or do you need to be at your destination that immediately?

I wondered the same thing.


post #15 of 46
Originally Posted by unfrozncavegrl View Post

That sounds like you are headed for a miserable experience.  Is the trip for fun or do you need to be at your destination that immediately?

If you don't need to be there immediately you should really REALLY consider stopping more often. Otherwise the trip is going to be hell. Being anti-screen time is all well and good but for a long drive nothing distracts a kid like a movie. It's just that simple. Sometimes our kids happiness is more important than our ideals about parenting...


Once again, stopping twice for an hour in a 24 hour period of driving is just not going to cut it. Sorry if that is too blunt for you but I've done long drives with DD, they aren't pretty even when she gets out of the car a lot.

post #16 of 46

I think you might be being a bit unrealistic about how many stops you can get away with.   24 hours with only 2 one-hour stops (I assume you'll have to stop other times for gas?)  with kids those ages is going to be .... interesting.


I did a lot of 8-10 hour road trips with my kids, from birth.    Many with only me, no other adult.  And the thing we learned quickly is that you simply need longer stops, and more of them. If they're potty trained, they need to be offered bathroom breaks more often than adults, and those breaks take longer. 


At every break, we made a point of taking some time to "shake the sillies out."  Being strapped that firmly in place for that long can result in sore spots, and being unable to move in ways they want to move seems to cause "fidget buildup."   We'd do things like get them to bunny-hop all the way into the bathroom, and we'd all howl at the moon for awhile before we got into the car.  Lots of full-body, gross-motor movement and deep gutteral noisemaking.


My kids are older, and really enjoy audiobooks, but I don't know how much that would have helped when either of them was less than 2.    I have a large collection of kids audiobooks -- I check books on CD out of the library and rip them to my iPod.  Many of them are hours and hours long and that really gets you through rough patches.


My kids liked having board books and train engines and colored pencils (NOTE:  CHEAP CRAYONS MELT IN HOT CARS!) and paper and cuddly dolls/bears.


There's no real panacea for the rigors of a long drive.   My kids were -- and are -- amazingly good travellers, and I still think that 24 hours with only 2 1-hour stops would have been a real nightmare.   Oh -- and actually, trying to eat dinner in the car with a rearfacing 1yo?   Yikes.  


post #17 of 46
Thread Starter 
We usually stop every hour and a half to pee and stretch our legs. The stops I mentioned were for meals and a dedicated hour or so for climbing around, running, etc. We are bringing DS bike and I'm hoping he will be able to ride it, depends whether we have to take the training wheels off to fit it in the car. I like the idea of pipe cleaners, will definitely pick some up. We can stop at a hotel if we need to but with us leaving at night we will already be halfway there by mid morning. We have driven long distance before but always under 10hrs which doesn't even register on my radar. We always drive straight through except for owe breaks and one longer break to run around.
post #18 of 46
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post

Whatever your 1yo likes to do, bring it in the car. :)  It's sooo personality specific what they would enjoy.  We play word games, lots of kid CD repetition (and I also listen to what I like and they nap :)), hot wheels, books, magnadoodle, snacks like cheerios...

i agree. we have done soooo many road trips as well as long distance flying with dd.


if i bring along another person dd likes (her extremely social personality) then forget anything else. we once made a 14 hour road trip with only one quick lunch and potty stop when dd was 18 months old. we had to do nothing for dd or even stop to 'shake the sillies out' (LOVE that phrase) because she had her cousin sitting next to her. 


on long plane rides - 14 to 18 hours (even though its different than car travel) her backpack full of stuff stayed closed as she hung out with the other passengers even at 8 months old. 


and u know what the funny part is. dd cried bloody murder in the car till she was about a year old. 

post #19 of 46

DS loves audio books. You can find them at the library or download them online. It is nice to bring a variety so that you do not get too tired of the same 2 or 3 orngtongue.gif over an over again.


Kaleidoscopes are fun to use in the car. 


Even when DS was very little he liked to look at flash cards; colors, shapes, etc...


Magazines are fun, too. Babybug, Ladybug, National Geographic, etc...

post #20 of 46

I do a fair number of road trips with my kids, who are all GREAT in the car.  I drive the 5 hours to my moms house alone with all three kids regularly, and longer trips with DP. 


The one thing that jumps out at me is that your time table sounds completely unrealistic.  For a 1400 mile trip I would budget three days, but it could MAYBE be done in two with a hotel stop in the middle.   For actual hours en-route, you need 21 hours of drive time, plus 3 hours for your long stops (meal time plus potty time plus run around time), plus at least 6 (10 is more realistic, especially if you are pregnant and your 3yo is potty trained) shorter potty breaks.  I'd  figure about 1/2 hour for those, since you'll presumably be changing a diaper for the 1yo, escorting the 3yo to the bathroom, using the bathroom yourself, and jumping around a bit with the kids.  So minimum, that would be 21 driving hours + 3 hrs + 3hrs = 27hrs total.  More realistically (because stuff happens when you travel with kids) you'll be looking at 30-36 hrs.  If you are driving through the night, that means one person is either driving and entertaining the kids or sleeping and entertaining the kids, neither of which is a really great idea.   For a trip that length, I  would really need a stop for the night, even if it's just a cheap motel for 8 hours.  


Others have had great suggestions for toys, the only thing I'd add is an AquaDoodle.  You color on it with water and it makes a picture, which disappears when it dries.  It's like $12 at walmart and has provided my DD with many many hours of entertainment on car and plane trips.  It's simple enough that a 1yo could probably play with it.  

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