As you can tell from my The art of long drives with kids: my top tips post, I’ve been traveling long distances by car with the kids fairly often since my eldest was 3 months old.
24-hour drives from London to Lisbon mean a lot of hours in a car going slightly mad at times. So having the right entertainment for my kids helps me feel a little less stressed pre-trip.
I also like to make sure they have entertainment that will keep them interested and focused for as much time as possible, following their current interests, and that don’t get lost in the car every 3 seconds. well, until there’s a need for (endless) toilet stops. Or they need to run in the “wild” for 5 minutes. Or we are desperate for coffee and sweets (that we obviously hide from them or only eat when they’re asleep).
I tried to group kids together by several ages in the same group, but to be honest, they’re such different little creatures, with major different capacities and needs that I can’t. So I’ve made a top 5 list per age from 0-5 year olds. And because we’ve travelled with the kids through all those different age groups, I think that all together I’ve got a great list put together. At least for our family, they’re great options. I hope they work for you too.
Some items on almost every list I’ve created work really well for more ages, whilst others are more specific to their age abilities. So I also recommend that for your 2-year-old, you should take a look at the other lists, especially the 1-year-old and the 3-year-old list as most items could apply too. The first two items on the 4-year-old list (magnetic blocks and buckles and zipper pillow) are also very much loved by my 2-year-old. And in case you’re travelling with younger or older kids, here are the links to my other related posts:
- Best toys for long drives with babies
- Best toys for long drives with 1-year-olds
- Best toys for long drives with 3-year-olds
- Best toys for long drives with 4-year-olds
- Best toys for long drives with 5-year-olds
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From 2 years old onwards, these Car Trays are essential. They can play on them, they can draw on them and they can eat on them. They can also hold tablets on them if your kid doesn’t get nauseous in the car (mine do). It helps contain spillages and keeps everything a little more contained.
As for storage, you can use other storage solutions to contain the kid’s toys in the car (like bags or fabric baskets), but with 1 or 2 kids (if you have more kids, it only works if you have a minivan), I find that this Car Organiser does a brilliant job at containing the toys and books, keeping everything accessible for both kids and (very importantly) it can be attached to the middle seatbelt for safety. A backpack that kids can open easily is the second best option I would say, as it can also be attached to the seatbelt for safety.
Another essential is getting these Mesh Wallets to contain the items per theme or group of things. They can fit pens, paper, little cars, magnetic blocks, LEGO sets, games, etc. It gives things a place to go back to, they’re easy to open and close, and they fit in the car organiser. At home, I transfer most of the puzzles and board games into them as they take much less space inside these wallets.
Another couple of essentials for me are:
- a couple of Story Books (kid’s favourites at the time and maybe a new one for novelty)
- their favourite soft toys
- their sound machines that help them fall asleep
- a blanket
- current favourite toys that they play with constantly
- a colouring set (book/blank paper + pens/pencils)
2 year olds travel items
Here are 5 of the top favourite toys that both my kids enjoyed on their travels at 2 years old.
Whether you have a girl or a boy, vehicles are a great option to pack in a kid’s backpack. For most 2-year-olds bigger vehicles like these Vtech ones are a great option (although, I must warn you: they only have one volume and it’s loud – and well, slightly annoying). From 2-year-olds we were able to introduce Hot Wheels to both kids (considering they didn’t chew on the wheels, which is the biggest hazard, so it depends on your kid and their current behaviour). If you can trust your 2-year-old, a Hotwheel 3 Cars Pack set is a great collection starter. My 5-year-old still plays with these a lot.
The Usborne sticker books have been our favourites as they’re easy for little hands, they’re good quality, have lovely drawings and a large variety of themes: Bugs, Unicorns, Dinosaurs, Woodlands and more.
This Train Sticker book was an absolute favourite for my eldest. To the point of having two as he wanted to do it again once it was finished. For my youngest, animals are more of her thing, so this Big Sticker Book of Animals has been an ongoing fun project.
The Smartmax Magnets are a lovely introduction to magnets. They also have a variety of themes: My First Safari Animals, My First Vehicles, My First Dinosaurs, and more. Several things can be created out of these sets and kids find it funny to build a different configuration that each item is intended for, mixing each shape and colour.
This is a Montessori-inspired item. My youngest absolutely loves this Portuguese pack we have from Bosque Feliz and has been playing with it since she was a baby. It feels expensive, but it does go a really long way (she play with it every other day) and is a very creative group of toys to play with. Here is a very similar Treasure Bag that I found on Amazon UK and looks like a brilliant option. I didn’t include it on the 1-year-old list, because at that age, they are not great to play in the car as the kids cannot make use of the Car Tray, but we’ve had this pack since our youngest was 6 months old.
Soft Doll and a couple of accessories
If your child has a favourite doll that they can’t part with, it’s obviously a no-brainer to take that one. I recommend a soft body doll because when kids get bored or angry, there’s always a great chance it will get thrown in the air. Or, you know, thrown at the other family members in the car. We have a soft doll from Asda (that unfortunately, I can’t find online) that is the ideal doll for the trip. It is also something they hold on to while falling asleep (when they’re struggling).
A doll like this Manhattan one or this Annabel one would be ideal. As for accessories, a little dummy, a brush, a spoon, a cup and a baby bottle are enough for traveling. I’ve got these super cute fabric feeding accessories on our wishlist. This fabric changing bag, and this set with bottles with “liquid” awakes fond memories of my childhood.
I hope these options are useful to you.