Long Car Ride with Kids? Have Activity Bags, Will Travel!


Posted by  Abby Branham

pin_activity kit

Let’s be honest, long car rides are rough, but especially rough for young kids.

Last summer we went to the OBX, which is about six hours from our home.  We drove through the night, and the girls slept like babies, quite literally because they were only one year old.  This year we traveled to New England, which was another six hour journey.  The difference this year is that they are 2, no longer sleep very well in the car for extended periods of time and we needed to travel during the day. I figured I’d better come up with a plan so that the car ride didn’t break us.

I started thinking about my own experience on long car rides as a kid.  There was one ride that I remember fondly.  I was traveling with my Dad my Aunt Shari.  My Grandma Gallup had prepared an assortment of bags with various activities in them, and she labeled them with directions on when I should open each bag.  I honestly don’t remember what activities were in the bags, but I do remember that each one was like a little treasure box. It made the long car ride bearable, even special.  So with that memory in mind and Pinterest at my fingertips, the activity bags for long car rides with the girls were created.

The Activity Bags

Here’s a look at the activity bags all finished. I stored them in a box and large reusable bag for easy access and to keep it all organized.


In addition to the activity bags, I also packed the girls’ book bags with books they love, necklaces, bracelets, sunglasses, special little boxes for them to open and close, toy telephones, and a little musical toy.  Their Aunt Katie got their super cute book bags at a store in Philly called Ali’s Wagon.  Thanks Aunt Katie, Uncle Carlo, and Cousin Matteo!


I also brought two cookie sheets (as seen in the picture below) measuring 13×9 at the Dollar Store.  They made a perfect lap desk for the girls for coloring, playing with play dough, etc. They fit perfectly across their laps and were easily stored alongside their car seats – brilliant.  The girls really enjoyed using them.  There are tons of great ideas for ways to use cookie sheets with kids on Pinterest – check them out.


The Activities

I created eight activity bags in total.

Bag one, which I’ll call the miscellaneous bag, consisted of pom poms, plastic eggs, center tubes of paper towel rolls, and Learning Resources Helping Hands Fine Motor tools, which I purchased on Amazon.

In the color matching bag (seen below), there was an activity to match the pom pom to the container that had the same color.

Another bag was shape matching (also seen below).  I created the shapes by using cookie cutters to draw shapes on foam boards I purchased at the Dollar Store.  After cutting the shapes out, I placed Velcro sticky dots on the backs so the girls could stick the shapes together and have fun pulling them apart.


The art activity bag consisted of glue, crayons, shape cutters, scrapbook paper and construction paper.  I also brought some coloring books.


The chalkboard activity bag consisted of black poster-board, multi-colored chalk, and a cloth eraser.  This was my personal favorite.  I’m a teacher, what can I say?


In the construction site bag there were a bunch of little cars and construction equipment.  I used a dry erase marker to draw a road on the cookie sheets for the cars to “travel” on.

The Playdough bag was by far one of the girls favorites.  You just can’t go wrong with Playdough.


And finally, the Lego Activity Bag.  Need I say more?


Here are some more fun items we brought on the trip.

We LOVE Melissa and Doug products.


Are you asking yourself, “Why did she bring a bib?”  The Dauber Dawgs are paint.  I didn’t pull out the Dauber Dawgs on the trip to New England.  They were kind of a last ditch effort if all else failed, because the girls LOVE to paint!  Thankfully the activity bags were such a hit and made the trip go so smoothly that I didn’t have to pull out my secret weapon.  Whew!


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This post was shared on Link Party Palooza on I Heart Naptime, on the Creative Collection Link Party on Craft-o-Maniac, on Making Merry Monday on My Pinventures, on Inspiration Monday on I Should Be Mopping The Floor, and on Dishing It and Digging It Link Party on Life with Linda, and on the Happiness is Homemade Link Party on Love My Messy Messy Mess.

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4 thoughts on “Long Car Ride with Kids? Have Activity Bags, Will Travel!

  1. Sarah Gallup says:

    So, this made me feel very guilty, as I do not recall ever doing activity bags, although I did pack snacks. School on wheels. What can I say. Move over!! Abigail Branham has definitely passed you by! Fabulous ideas! I know they loved it!

  2. Kate says:

    These are great ideas. I love that big bag of yours, too!
    Pinned and tweeted!
    Thanks for sharing at the Merry Monday link party!
    We hope to see you again next week!
    (I’d love for you to stop by my blog -listed below- to join me for another link party called Wake Up Wednesday that’s going on right now! We’d love to have you as well!)
    Kate |

    • Katie Gambone ( says:

      Thanks for your feedback and for sharing this story Kate! We will definitely check out the Wake Up Wednesday link party.

  3. diy180 says:

    These are great and I love all those great supplies for the kids. I need to do this for my girl. Thanks for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party. We love having you.

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