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Kids On The Go!




To keep the little (or big) ones entertained for trips like grocery shopping, eating out or even road trips try this:



Get a bag such as a backpack, roomy purse, satchel, diaper bag, etc (wide opening, closure and pockets or compartments recommended).



Fill with (and remember to think COMPACT) the following:


  1. Paper (note or memo pads are good – construction/colored paper, too!)
  2. Cards or card games (Old Maid, Go Fish, Uno, Rook, Crazy Eights, Hearts, etc), or flash cards
  3. Mini toy car (can be fast food toys, micro machines, matchbox, etc)
  4. Coloring or activity book such as maze books, workbooks, dot to dot, mind benders, etc (we also print out pages from the internet, save the kid menu/placemats from restaurants we frequent, or cut out cereal box activities)
  5. Reading book/comic book (also the comics from the newspaper)
  6. Crayons (save those little 2-3 packs you get in the restaurants – they add up to a great set!)
  7. Crayon sharpener (COVERED unless you want shavings all over) for the LOOOOONG trips or the zealous colorer
  8. Pens
  9. Pencils (regular and/or colored - don’t forget erasers & sharpeners – think safety here)
  10. Colorforms (not the big box type scenes, but the travel size or the ones in a book)
  11. Sticker scenes/books
  12. Magnetic drawing board like MagnaDoodle (plenty of knock offs that are cheaper)
  13. Ruler or tape measure (you just don’t know the time that can be spent measuring things!)
  14. Light-up Peg game such as Lite Brite (plenty of knock offs that are cheaper)
  15. Interactive/Game-type key chains
  16. Plastic sheet or wax backing type “slate” or sketch pads that use a “stylus” not a pen or pencil
  17. Fuzzy face/iron filings magnetic board
  18. Marbles/beads/change/polished rocks & box with dividers such as a craft organizer or bag with pockets (great for sorting or “hiding”)
  19. Tiny stuffed animal or animal figurine (Beanie babies or smaller - can be fast food toys)
  20. Dry erase board/cards/learning toys
  21. Where’s Waldo? or Look/Search & Find cards in protective sheets & binder are wonderful
  22. Magic Pens/Invisible Ink Pens & books
  23. Mad Libs (can also be made up or printed from the internet)
  24. 5 in 1 scrolling games (about a 4” x 6” box with plastic sheet/window & different activities that turn/scroll up or down – playing pieces or special crayons)
  25. Craft kits (bought or thrown together - in a zip-plastic bag - such as knitting, beads & shoelaces or yarn or thread, cross stitch, weaving/macramé, cloth/nylon loops, spool knitting)
  26. Read-A-Loud books and tapes or cds (can be store bought or homemade – don’t forget the car adapter or extra batteries for portable players on the long trips!))
  27. Felt boards/books (pre-printed scenes with characters – can be bought or made)
  28. Orgami/Paper folding – paper & instructions (buy a book or print instructions from the net – paper airplanes may need “ground rules”)
  29. String loop for string games (here, too) such as cat’s cradle or String strands for tying knots (here, too) (print out instructions from the web)
  30. Dominoes
  31. Brain teasers (wire/metal ring type that used to be magic tricks or called puzzle rings or homemade paper/cardboard tangrams and mosaics/trisaics)
  32. Small jigsaw puzzles – can be homemade from paper, personal pictures, card stock or cardboard (don’t forget to have a stiff surface & maybe a mini “puzzle keeper”)
  33. Optical illusions (I printed out some from the internet & used sheet protectors & a binder)
  34. Kaleidoscope
  35. Etch a Sketch (cheap versions are good)
  36. Calculator (can be amazingly entertaining with number or “word” games – try this book, too!)
  37. Paper or Felt dolls
  38. Relief plates or “Fashion Plates” (I found a travel size in a discount store)
  39. Interlocking building pieces like Ello or Lego or K’nex or Clickits (small “kits” can often be bought at dollar stores or throw some together from Junior’s big set into a zipping sandwich bag)
  40. Magnets such as refrigerator or craft magnets & some metal pieces like nuts, washers, bolts – very cheap but entertaining science activity
  41. Matchstick puzzles/mind benders (use sanded down toothpicks or popsicle sticks cut in half and sanded down for safety)
  42. Small bag of fresh leaves (dried ones crumble), dried beans or seeds (can be used to identify, sort or in a craft project)
  43. Pipe cleaners or “chenille stems” (just remember the sharp, pointy ends)
  44. Mini fashion/baby doll or character figurines (Dawn/Kelly size or can be fast food toys)
  45. Binders with pockets are great to hold the home printed/copied items and to have a stiff work surface
  46. Don’t forget the 3 hole/ring pencil pocket/bag for the binder!
  47. License Plate Game
  48. Bingo for the family


For the road trips, a great idea I came across was to print out a map of the trip route and laminate the map (clear contact paper works great).  You then help the child keep a record of where he’s been, where he’s going, such as coloring in or making a list of the towns/states/countries.  Teach capitals along the way, too.  Also useful, an almanac can provide information regarding state trees, mottos, flags, birds, commodities, etc.


Store bought travel games (even the 5 in 1 scroller listed above) can be bulky and use up valuable space.  If space isn’t an issue, though, travel games can be great to include the whole cooped-up crew.


Also, I recently decided to learn to sew and came across “cheater panels” to help me begin.  Especially perfect for travel were some “Kidz On The Go” panels (sewn prior to travelling) that included (separately) a cloth “portable fun pack” multi-pocket tote, cloth “my checkers” game with pieces, cloth “3 in a row” tic-tac-toe with pieces, cloth “50 nifty states” game with pieces, and cloth “road signs” travel bingo with pieces.  These same ideas can also be fabricated from paper, cardboard, felt, plastic or cloth with no sewing.


Additionally, a pillow desk can act as a stiff work surface or nap buddy


Here’s an idea for the Dry Erase Board or Magnets Board – use a cookie sheet or cheap metal tray.  Cover with white or black contact paper.  If desired, use permanent marker to draw a scene such as a race track, homemade gameboard or writing lines, or a house.  Use adhesive magnets (dots, squares or roll cut to size) to adhere to dry erase markers or eraser (so they store on your new board), or shapes such as foam or felt to create pictures or make playing pieces.


For fun and excitement, “wrap” a new or forgotten toy for every 50 or so miles.  New doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or store bought, could just be new to your child (ie garage sale, homemade or sibling swap).


I highly recommend the dollar stores, thrift stores, garage sales, discount outlets etc. to find the off-brand and cheap items that will equally entertain.


Check the party aisles or a party store for small, inexpensive & interesting doodads and knick knacks.


Remember not to leave your travel bags in the heat for any length of time, as crayons quickly turn to wax blobs and pens/markers tend to dry out quicker.


When purchasing anything for travel, remember small, travel or pocket size, the overall messiness factor & safety!



Things to avoid:


Anything in the above list that you know your child will use as a projectile in the vehicle or in public

Scissors (unless they’re the round tip, plastic, safety scissors)

Toys that are fragile or have irreplaceable tiny pieces

Slime/goop/play dough/clay

Noisy toys with no earphones or volume control

Markers unless age appropriate or that don’t show up on your little darling’s clothes or your back seat!

Glue (even stick glue can become messy)

Paint or nail polish

Things made of glass (“Uh-oh” can quickly turn to “Does blood stain?”)

Rubber bands (zinging Mommy in the back of the head while she’s driving is not funny)

Paper clips unless age appropriate


Straight or safety pins (even safety pins can prick when the user is jostled from a pothole or the like)

Video games (I personally am a junkie, but I would rather my child find entertainment in the “old school” stuff)

Music cd’s/tapes (not unacceptable, but tends to isolate instead of promoting interaction)

Balloons (very loud when popped & pieces can be swallowed)

Interactive pets/keychain pets (Furby’s prattle in a confined area can be quite annoying after any length of time)

Ink pads for stamping (unless they’re the kind that works only on special paper)


Water games (the small & cheap ones tend to leak)


I ended up with 4 complete bags (I used free promotional canvas bags & free hospital diaper/baby bags) overflowing with mostly free, homemade or cheap stuff.  We keep one activity bag in each of our 2 vehicles, then keep the other two to swap out for variety.  Remember that one/each bag does not need to contain EVERYTHING!  ;)



For the activity sheets here is a great link for making your own:


This is a print your own travel book:


Here’s a page for printing out songs, learning lessons, crafts, etc.


A few links around mid-page for printouts and game ideas:


For some great ideas and printouts check this website out!



If you want something quick and already put together try these two books.  We have both of the them.  I think they are WONDERFUL for travel (very interactive & contains “stuff”):

The Amazing Game Board Book


My First Amazing Game Board Book


The first four books are from Klutz Press:

The Amazing Booka-Ma-Thing for the Backseat (I like it, very interesting, but it’s a bit short in the “things to do” department)


Kids Travel: A Backseat Survival Kit (very good with a TON of activities and pouch of “stuff”)


The Only Coloring, Puzzle, Game, Dot-To-Dot Activity Book You’ll Ever Need! (MANY pages to color and do things)


Glove Compartment Games (about the size of a laminated map.  Interesting, but only for a quick fix, not a long time killer)

Or try:

The Everything Kids Travel Activity Book by Adams Media (interesting but not memorable)

52 Travel Activity Kit by Chronicle Books


Rubberneckers: Everyone's Favorite Travel Game by Chronicle Books


Rubberneckers Jr by Chronicle Books

TravelMates:  Fun Games Kids Can Play in the Car or on the Go – No Materials Needed by Crown Publishing Group


Are We There Yet?  Travel Games For Kids by Crown Publishing Group

Miles of Smiles:  101 Great Car Games & Activities by Carousel Press

Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities to Turn Travel Time Into Learning Time by Prima Lifestyles

Magnetic Travel Fun by Planet Dexter (includes bingo, checkers, chess, Chinese checkers, fanarona, mancala, go/reversi, nine men’s morris, solitaire, tic tac toe 3D, and plenty of brain teasers – great book, but weak magnet playing pieces)

Magnetic Games on the Move by ? (only 7 games)

I also really like:

Travel Games & Activities Funtastic Kits by Publications International, Ltd. (fun & includes a pouch full of stuff)



For sightseeing or camping/hiking trips, you may want to bring along some books on identifying things like birds, bugs, plants, animals, etc.  The vast information in these types of books can keep a mind occupied for some time.


**Quick word on a personal family favorite game of ours is “Clouds” – Everyone looks out the windows and names a shape that he sees in the clouds.  Others in the vehicle try to see the same object while searching for their own “vision”.  There is no winner, it’s extremely cheap (unless the driver forgets to watch the road), & everyone seems to find at least an ounce of creativity in those fluffy sky pillows.**


Here are some great snack ideas for traveling:


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