As anyone traveling more than 20 minutes with children can attest: traveling with small people can be…well, not exactly the carefree road trip you were hoping for.
Thankfully, there is a magic trick that can keep your wee one entertained for hours, even have them looking forward to their time in the car (or plane, or wherever).
Introducing...*cue anticipation and applause*....the Travel Treat Box. This magical box- in any case, a shoebox or something similar- can be filled with all manner of childhood joy and fun. The secret sauce: don’t allow your small person to open it until you’re on your way.
Personal testimonial: our family moved across the country- 16 hours of driving- with a very active two year old, and I kid you not, the box did not get old. For sixteen. hours.
What you’ll need:
- A Shoebox (or to be cuter, THIS type of box is super sturdy and big enough to fit everything you should need). You can either let your little one decorate it (a great in car activity!) with stickers, markers, whatever, leave it plain, or do it up with Mod Podge and wrapping paper.
- Fun Activities + Games
- Snacks. I know for my two little Italians, this is their favorite part of the box. Because I’m going to need a car deep clean after the trip anyway, I don’t worry about crumbs or whatever. With a long car trip + littles, the likelihood of a spill or blowout is pretty high no matter what, so I’ve gotten used to taking the carseat cover off and throwing it in the wash occasionally. Job done.
Here are a few treat box ideas to get you started:
- Organic Fruit Strips
- Annie’s Bunny Grahams
- Pirate’s Booty Cheddar or Veggie Puffs
- Veggie Straws
- Tiny Tots Dehydrated Fruit
- Plum Organics Puffs
- Granola Bars
- Applesauce Packets
- Dried Fruit
We Avoid: Chocolate or anything else that can melt, and sugary treats.
- Color Wonder Marker & Book for littlest ones, washable markers and sketch pads for everyone else.
- Fidget Spinners
- Stickers (Tons of stickers. O my word what a hit stickers are. You can even let your little decorate their box with stickers during the drive)
- Anything that glows or blinks in the dark. The Dollar Tree is great for this. Blinky Wands, Blinky Squooshy things, blinky anything. Perfect for night drives.
- Things that suction to the window.
- New Matchbox Cars, Figurines, or and small, fun toys.
- Inductive Line Toys (These are SO super cool- draw a track on the top of the box and give kids hours of fun!)
- Magnets Tin Play Sets
- Mini Lego Kits (you could also glue a flat lego board to the top of the box for a perfect lego workspace!)
- Travel Books and games for older kids
- Mini Magna Doodle or Mini Etch-a-Sketch
- Things that can be taken apart and put back together (especially great for toddlers working on fine motor skills). Check out "Busy Bags" on Pinterest for ideas.
We Avoid: Balls and anything whose usefulness comes by throwing, and crayons because melting. Also anything that makes noise, obviously.
Best Place To Purchase Treats:
- Amazon- check out the links above!
- Dollar Tree (or your local dollar store)
- Cracker Barrel- They have so many old-school, travel-friendly games
True Story: We drove across the country with the two-year-old 3 times in one year, 16 hours each way. We refilled the box every time, and somehow the magical treat box fairy dust maintained potency. He became a road-trip pro, and we are much indebted to this fantastic life hack.
What are you putting in your treat box?
Tell us in the comments below!