Creative Travel – Countdown to Arrival

Surprise your kids with something new each hour to help pass the time in the car!Car trips with little one’s can be challenging. Despite all of my efforts, we still endured a good bit of “are we there yet’s?” If anyone has any ideas of ways to occupy little people on long trips, I’m all ears!!!!

In an attempt to make the 6 hour drive to San Diego as pleasant as possible, I tried to be creative and pull together some activities to occupy them.

For young children who struggle with a concept of time, I found it helpful to give the boys a visual idea of how far we had come and how far we had to go.  After each hour in the car, I would move over the clip and we’d pull out a new treat and activity.

Stringing Cheerios on yarn for an edible necklace.  A great fine motor activity that can provide plenty of entertainment on a subsequent road trip.Hour 1: Eating Cheerios necklaces they had made the day before and playing with lacing cards.  It provided a great fine-motor activity for the kids as we prepared them for the drive and then occupied them for quite some time as they nibbled the cheerios off one at a time!  SCORE!

Hour 2: munching on grapes and a new-to-us music CD from the library

Hour 3: a run and play stop in Yuma followed by a chapter from The House at Pooh Corner

Hour 4: Beach bags to play with and Swedish fish to munch on. The beach bags consisted of a ziplock filled with a bit of sand, a couple of shells, a Swedish fish and blue hair gel. The concept was great, but I either needed to use plastic or rubber fish or shouldn’t have put it together the day before. The poor Swedish fish had practically disintegrated before they had a chance to play around with it. I will probably try this activity at home some other time when we are studying the beach again!

Hour 5: Pretty uneventful, since they fell asleep! (Mommy got some reading done!)

Hour 6: Fruit leather and The Tale of Peter Rabbit on tape.

On our return trip, I just rotated thru any activity I could think of. Everybody was pretty crabby, so success was limited.

The big hit on the way home was the car trays.

Cookie Sheets in the Car were a stroke of genius!  What to do on them:

♦ Tape pieces of paper to the inside of two cookie trays for coloring and sticker play! I gave the boys star stickers. This little bit of fine motor skill practice occupied them for a good 20 minutes. ♦ Matchbox cars ~ When they tired of that, I pulled out match box cars and they played with those on the tray.

♦ Bugs for some good ol’ bug play

♦ Playdough – the tray provides a great surface to contain this.

Wikki Stix – Another hit with car trays!

The trays will be a “must” on every car trip from here on out!


  1. wow. all I can say is wow. That you had time to put all of that together on top of packing is, well quite intimidating 🙂

    Great ideas Heather! I’ll have to use some of them for our road trips next year!

  2. You’re brilliant. Period, end of story.

  3. I’m the chief procrastinator and that was more fun than packing, which is why I had a grand total of 4 hours of sleep the night before we left. And, well, 6 hours being cooped up in a car with 3 boys 4 and under scared me… (and with good reason since there was still much weeping and knashing of teeth on the way back despite my best efforts.)

  4. That is great! I’m definitely going to try some of those next week on our car trip. 🙂

  5. Nice variety… and I am sure the prep time was worth it. Weeping and gnashing of teeth … but NO upset tummies? You are blessed in one very important way! 🙂

  6. thanks for the reminder to count my blessings!!! I’m so glad none of my boys have problems with car sickness. ughh, just thinking about that brings back icky road trip memories… yup, I’m blessed (knock on wood)


  1. […] by helping your children understand how long it’s going to take. Heather Haupt from Cultivated Lives says, “For young children who struggle with a concept of time, I found it helpful to give […]

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