7 Quick Takes Tips and Tricks for Road-Tripping with a Preschooler

Well friends we have set out on a 2 and a half week, five destination, 3,000 mile road trip, apparently also into a monster of a snowstorm.

Living in Texas with family in Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, Montana and Colorado we do a lot of traveling. Thankfully our daughter loves to hit the road with us.  Here are some tips that have made the travel work for us.


1. Pack an activity basket:

  •  Stickers. You can buy little labels in the office supply section and get 400 stickers for $1.75. You can also substitute band-aids or scotch-tape or anything sticky.
  • Pipe Cleaners. Great for making letters, people, animals, headbands, hats or anything. When you get tired of them stretch them out and start over. Take along large pasta pieces or cardboard with holes punched out or even an old colander and older kids will love weaving pipe cleaners in and out.
  • Marker board and chalk board. We keep a zip lock bag of markers and chalk (markers have been a recent addition, until recently they were too messy).
  • Lots of paper. We give her a few crayons but usually she either puts stickers on paper or tears it up. I use coloring books but have also included old catalogs, magazines or just old drawings and scrap papers.Road trip tips with pre-schoolers


  • Books. I try to pick ones that  I don’t have to read, either with no words or that she knows well.  Here are a couple of our favorite traveling books:
Road trip tips for Pre-schoolers
This is a beautiful book with landscapes and all sorts of things to count. I’ve actually had our copy since I was a little girl.


Road trip tips for pre-schoolers
This is a seek and find book with beautiful engaging pictures. You can look at these all day long and keep on finding new things.

2. Make the most of your stops: Our stops are usually quick, but if we can we try to squeeze out a few minutes of fun. Even if there isn’t anything especially exciting, looking for pine cones at a rest stop or jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk at the gas station can easily become a game for a 3 year old.

3. Gadgets: Mini Magna-Doodles, toy camera, magnifying glass or a small flashlight. Occasionally we will let her take along a singing teapot or some other music maker but we try to limit anything that makes noise.

4. Music:  We insist on doing some of the trip without music which has been a good practice for us. Then when the music comes on it is a treat and we all listen together. We alternate between doing our own”grown up” playlist, with her “kid music”. I’ve also picked up cd’s, mostly old musicals at the Goodwill which are a big hit. This girl knows the Sound of Music soundtrack backward and forward.

5. Snacks: I let everyone pick out one or two favorites and then bring a bunch of healthy treats, apples, oranges, dried fruit, crackers, rice cakes. It saves us money and we all feel better packing as much of our own food as possible.

6. Books on tape: Downloads are free with Overdrive through your local library.  The Winnie the Pooh series has been a hit with the grown ups in our car, sometimes my daughter looses focus but she is starting to get the hang of it and at least listens enough that she stays quiet whenever it is on.

7. Surprises: I bring these out in those last 30 minutes of a long drive when everyone is having a hard time keeping a good attitude. Mainly I use glow bracelets, but any sort of special treat works, keep something hidden in the glove box for those moments when everyone needs a little boost.




road trip tips for pre-schoolers    road trip tricks for preschoolers     Road trip tricks with preschoolers

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks.

Happy Travels.



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  • Amy @ The Salt Stories Reply

    This is an awesome round up. Definitely saving for a trip we have coming up.

    We took a 2.5 week 3000 mile road trip in seprember and had a blast!! I wrote a goofy post about, “you know you are traveling with a young child if..” Here are a few of our tips.
    Iron file doodle board (no mess)
    longest drive during nap time.
    Take it slow-We tried to drive less than 4 hours each day.
    Librivox free public domain audio books

    • egjarrett Reply

      This is awesome, I need to check out Librivox. My daughter is just starting to get into the audio books, at least the ones that my husband and I also enjoy. For a while we were living out in the country which meant we had to drive about an hour just to go to the grocery store, so my daughter got pretty comfortable during car rides. So far this trip is going well but the longest stretch of driving is coming at the end when we drive from Ohio back to Texas so we will see how that goes.

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