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I planned our long car ride to Disney as much as I planned our time at WDW. I have three small children and driving from NOLA to Orlando fit our budget so I was determined to make it work. We do have a DVD player in the car and I used the ipad for my 5 year old in short increments, but we try to limit screen time at home and I wanted to continue that on the road.
I hope if you are traveling to Disney, or anywhere soon – summer travel is coming up- that you get some tips. No need to reinvent the wheel Mamas!!
We did NOT tell our 4 year old that we were going. I love surprises and I wanted to surprise him. The night before we left, we watched the Disney vacation DVD that you can send away for. We talked about how much fun it would be if we could go.
Then on the morning of our departure, I had a voicemail from “Mickey and Goofy” calling to tell him we were going. I found the voiceover star on fiverr.com. I still have the voicemail, he did a GREAT job. One of the best $5 I ever spent. My little one kept asking “Are you serious? Are we going?”
Also, I ordered a lap tray- like this one. It had a tall lip that surrounded the tray and a snap that could fit behind my son’s lap so that he could have a space to put the activities that I planned.
So on to the trip…
First things first, hungry kids=cranky kids. I packed many different snacks for the long ride. We planned to stop for meals so we could all stretch and change diapers, but I knew that we had to have kibbles for the pack. I didn’t want to just hand the snacks to the back seat though, so I made it fun. I got a deck of cards and labeled the ziploc bags according to the numbers and face cards in the deck. Because of Northshore Mama, I had a mickey cookie cutter, so I traced the outline on different colors of scrap paper and cut them out and labeled them. During our trip, I had the 4 year old draw a card from a deck of cards and then I found the snack that matched it and handed it back. Most of the snacks were things that we normally have, but some were new.
I packed a shoe box with outdoor toys, football, bubbles, frisbee for lunch and stretch stops. We found many gas stations had a grassy area away from the road, so we ran around and played for a couple minutes before getting back to driving.
I do NOT like public restrooms and I have a little guy that is potty-trained, but you never know, so I did pack a potty. I put a diaper at the bottom and instead of having to clean out the potty, I just wrapped up the diaper and threw it out.
I love my cricut machine. I always want to find a reason to use it, so I did for this trip too! I figured out how many miles it was from our house to Disney and I cut out enough yellow car shapes for every 50 miles. I also cut out a green car and a red car. On the green car, I wrote “Start”, on each yellow car I wrote one number : 50, 100, 150 all the way up to how many miles it would take to get there and on the red, I wrote “stop”. I strung the green car first, then the yellow ones and then the red at the end and hung it from a string in the front of the car. Every 50 miles I would move one. The green was for the start of the trip and the red signified that we arrived. The 4 year old didn’t ask once “ARE WE THERE YET?”
Now for the actual activites, I decided I wanted one for every 30 minutes. I wrapped all of the activities so it was like opening a present. I labeled them with numbers (on mickey shaped cutouts). I kept a list of the numbers and what the activities were so that I could know what was coming up. I tried to vary what came next to keep things fresh and interesting.
I printed out some different car bingos and a travel scavenger hunt that I found here and we played them as we went. This was an ongoing activity so we started it as soon as we left.
I also had a clipboard that I printed and laminated this sign to. We kept track of how many times a trucker blew his horn for us. I taught hash marks this way (ok, I’m a teacher too).
I bought a cheap roll of tin foil and handed back some pieces to the 4 year old to make creations.
I made a portable chalk board. I took a cookie sheet with a lip and spray painted it with chalk board. I hot glued a small box of chalk to one side of the board and put a small washcloth in the box. My boy liked to draw and erase on this “old-school” board. We also got a travel etch-a-sketch.
I bought a box of pipe cleaners and handed them back to make different creations.
I bought some small coloring books and crayons in the 1spot at Target that were Disney themed. (Dollar stores have a lot of Disney toys also. Frisbees, chalk, little washcloths, lots of stuff.)
I also bought a small Disney puzzle that he was able to complete on his lap.
My brother created a cd with different Disney songs on it from movies that we know and we played a matching game with it. I printed out pictures of the movie covers and put velcro on the back of each one and put them in an envelope. I made a chart numbered 1-10 and put the other piece of velcro next to each number. When a new song came on, my son would look in the envelope and find the correct picture to go with the song and then put it on the chart next to the correct number. This activity we had to keep coming back to because my little guy wouldn’t listen to all of the songs at once.
I put together a box with new books, foam stickers and cardstock papers with fun colorful prints, travel simon and magazines as a choice box that he could pull from if he wanted a break from his wrapped gifts.
I have added this Bingo game for our road trip this summer! There are a few different options, so check out the one you think your kids would like the best!
All of this made our drive much easier and smoother! I’m so glad I prepared so many activities for my little guy!
Next time we go on a car trip, I will be adding this cool sticker mosaic kit that I found to our activities. For older kids here is a cool mosaic kit!
And…we went to Disney before my little guy was obsessed with Legos, but I already made this for our next car trip. It’s an awesome idea!! DIY Portable Lego Kit with Activity Cards (This kit calls for a certain set of 23 single legos, if you live close to a Lego store, you can get them there or if you live close to a 2nd and Charles, they sell them by the ounce and you can pick and choose the ones you want).
We didn’t do this, but for older kids, I would do Mad Libs for them!
This year when we travel I am letting the kids deocrate their own t-shirts. I got white t-shirts from Michael’s when they were on sale and I bought Crayola Fine Line Fabric Markers, 10 Count and cut out a piece of box to put in between the shirt so it doesn’t run from one side to the other.
Another new thing is I am going to have the kids track license plates by state and scratch them off on this scratch off map!
You can also get some sticker books, my kids LOVE them!! Check out this animal one or check out all of the Melissa & Doug reusable stickers here!