For the past year I have been putting together our plan for a family road trip from the UK to Copenhagen. We will be on the road for three to four weeks with stops across six countries (with a possible seventh if we stop for lunch in Luxembourg on our way home). I’ve done my best to spilt our route into manageable chunks of driving, but regardless of how well I’ve planned it, there will be a lot of time in the car for our two small children. So I’ve put together a bit of a must have when it comes to roadtripping with toddlers – activity packs!
Sticker and activity books
To be honest I think sticker and activity books are a must have in any house whether you are planning to do some travelling or not. We have a little stock pile ready for a rainy day or if we want to do some sort of an activity, but I can’t face the mess from sensory play or painting. Generally the boys get given a lot of sticker and activity books when they have a birthday party and we always find little travel sized activity packs in party bags after their friend’s birthday parties as well. I tend to put all these to one side and then when we go away on a holiday or mini break, I pack them all up ready for the journey.
Since Bear was about 12 weeks old we have had a solid bath, book, bed routine. That way I know that regardless of how busy our day has been we will have some quality time as a family reading stories together. I also always made a point of having books in most rooms in the house so that they boys can always sit down and flick through the pictures on their own if they want to. Over time this has lead to both of the boys having a strong interest in books and so we have packed a few to read before bed each night, as well as for the boys to flick through during longer stints in the car. We have booked tickets to go to Disneyland Paris at the end of our trip, so I’ve also added in some Disney books that I found on offer in Toys ‘R’ Us.
Travelling across such a distance will be such an adventure, but I’m very aware the children may need a bit of down time as well. The really good thing about trips like this is that we can pack little extras that we wouldn’t be able to if we were backpacking, extra things like a mini toy case. I found this little suitcase for a few pound in hobby craft and started filling it with little travel gems.
For our pack we included:
- Matchbox cars and trains
- A travel sized magnetic drawing board
- A zip bag of duplo
- A buckles toy
- A Thomas and Friends mini playset
The buckles toy is amazing for smaller toddlers. Monkey is fascinated with buckles and will spend ages opening and closing them. They are also really good for flying with children as well because they are very small and light, so fit in very easily into hand language.
The Thomas and Friends playset actually came in a book Bear was given for his birthday by one of our close friends. The book the set come with ia a bit bulky, but the little map and plastic figures are easy to transport, so perfect for a travelling toy.
The travel sized magnetic drawing board is another must have item for travelling with. It saves on lots of scraps of paper and colouring pencils, is very light and portable, so again is perfect for slipping into hand luggage.
The duplo packs are really easy to put together. I used Zippa bags because they fit quite a lot in, are perfectly sized for travel and are really cheap to buy. I always make sure there is a small board in there because it gives the boys a base to build on. Then I throw in some different sized bricks, a few figures and added extras like a Mega Bloks Thomas. These are perfect packs for travelling because they offer scope to build, encourage the boys to use their imaginations in play and after playing, I can pack the whole lot back into a travel sized zip up bag.
Match box cars and trains are really great toys to pack up when travelling. I decided to pack quite a few, but if we were travelling by plane, I would only put three or four into my bag. The boys will sit and run the cars and trains long the floor for hours at a time, so they are great for travel.
Small world play set
This one is obviously more for road trips opposed to flying or interrailing anywhere, but if you do have the space and flexibility this one is a great for giving children some down time after a busy day of exploring, to just play. I found a box from hobby craft, but these can be made just as easily with old shoe boxes. I lined the box with felt sheets, then cut out shapes to make the trees and flowers, then glued them onto the felt sheets. I then cut out a triangle from grey crepe paper to create a mountain and added a white triangle cut out of felt on top, to give a snowy peak top effect.
I stuck some Velcro strips to the lid, then cut down a blue and black, glittery felt sheet to fit into the lid of the box. The felt then sticks to the lid to create a day or night effect depending on the scenario the boys would like in their small world play. I then put some plastic animals in the box ready to use for a travel sized small world play.