How to Keep Your Toddler Occupied on a Road Trip

Who says you have to break the bank to keep your toddler occupied on a long road trip? The following frugal ideas are simple, cost-effective, and will help you preserve your sanity while traveling to grandma’s house this summer:

Make Your Own Books on Tape: Each year my mom presents my daughter with a backpack full of new books and cassettes of her reading each out loud. This is an ideal gift for toddlers who cannot read on their own. In addition to reading the words on each page, my mom describes the pictures, then instructs my daughter to “turn the page” when it’s time to move on. You can do this using your own voice, then simply pop the tape or disc into your car’s stereo and let your toddler read along with mommy.

Stickers: Toddlers love stickers. My daughter also happens to love band-aids, but sheets of stickers are much cheaper. If your toddler has a tough time peeling off traditional stickers, then purchase the puffy ones. They are available in a variety of shapes, colors and characters. My daughter can spend up to 30 minutes peeling, sticking (white paper or wax paper works well in the car), and describing her stickers to me from the backseat.

Baking sheet: It doesn’t have to be one of your good ones. In fact, you can get one from the Dollar Store before you hit the road. A standard size cookie sheet can be used as a playing surface for LEGOS, cars, dolls, or farm animals. In addition, it is also great as a table for drawing or as a tray for snacks. You can also use it as a board for magnetized letters, numbers and shapes.

Presents: Take a trip to the Dollar Store before leaving on your trip and stock up on little toys and treats. Then, triple-wrap each goodie in bright wrapping paper. (The more layers you wrap each item in, the longer it will take your child to unwrap it.) If you are short on cash try recycling toys that your child hasn’t played with in a while, but still likes. Wrap them and give them to your child on your road trip. Even if your child may have lost interest in the toy at home, the change of venue may lead to a change of heart.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.