5 travel toys to keep your kids entertained on a road trip


Pop quiz, hotshot. You’re traveling with your family on what seems to be an endless road trip of gargantuan proportions. There’s no 5G, the electronic devices are dead and the charging cords are frayed. In the backseat, boredom is quickly closing in on your two children and the only form of entertainment they’re engaged with is in the form of explosive sibling aggression. What do you do?

Well, if you’re me, you’d have a clutch of non-electronic travel games to even out the situation, at least until you arrive at the nearest wall socket.

Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Memory Game

Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Memory Game

Fennell Harris for Hearst

Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Memory Game

Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Memory Game – Wooden Game Board – amazon.com

14.99Shop Now


The first toy I gave my kids was the “Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Memory Game.” It’s a wooden game board with plastic flippers, and within the game board is a slot holding seven double-sided cards of different objects grouped by different themes like colors, numbers, fruit, etc. The blue plastic flippers cover the openings and when a match is made the openings are left open.

The game is made out of wood, as is Melissa & Doug’s oeuvre, and is crafted extremely well. The wood is solid and the plastic flippers are sturdy. The rubber bands providing the spring action for the flipping motions are the right amount of tight and hold up extremely well to external pulling. The double-sided cards are made of hearty cardstock and fit into the holding slot snugly, with no hint of slippage. And the game is pretty fun as well; in fact, it was the game of choice while waiting for our dinner when my in-laws treated us during our vacation.

My older son and his grandfather entertained themselves while my wife, her mother, and I gorged ourselves on salad and breadsticks. My younger son abstained from both activities; coloring was his interest, and he was lucky I had something to satiate that interest.

AiTuiTui Magnetic Drawing Board

AiTuiTui Magnetic Drawing Board

Fennell Harris for Hearst

AiTuiTui Magnetic Drawing Board

AiTuiTui Magnetic Drawing Board – amazon.com

12.99Shop Now

The “AiTuiTui Magnetic Drawing Board” was my youngest son’s go-to toy when he was suffering from road trip boredom. A magnetic erasable writing and sketch board that writes in different colors? Yes, please. It comes with three magnetic stamps and a pen that is connected to the board. As you write, the colors change, making a rainbow effect on anything drawn or scribbled. The colors were a bit muted but other than that it worked splendidly. My younger son colored and drew for minutes at a time, without a care in the world.

Great for all ages

Great for all ages

Fennell Harris for Hearst

Mom, I’m Bored Children’s Activity Book

Squirrel Products Mom, I’m Bored Children’s Activity Book – amazon.com

12.99Shop Now

You know who did have a care? My older son. He had a big care. He saw his little brother having fun and instead of feeling good that he could entertain himself autonomously, my eldest son felt jealous and wanted to ruin it. I guess mercilessly trouncing his father in Melissa & Doug memory got old and he yearned for a new cognitive challenge. “Hey!” He yelped, “He gets to draw! How come I don’t get to draw?!” BOOM. That’s when I gifted my oldest with the “Mom, I’m Bored Children’s Activity Book” created by Squirrel Products.

It comes with 22 activities plus a dry-erase marker that doesn’t stain your upholstery or your children’s clothes. The activities ranged from completing mazes to drawing a self-portrait to playing hangman. It is a book that is chock full of activities a growing boy trapped in a moving vehicle for two+ hours needs. My oldest was having so much fun my youngest couldn’t help but notice, and it was now his turn to be jealous… and I already saw it coming. After a couple of moments:

“DAAAAADY?!”

“Switch. Just switch.”

And they did. Turns out the age range for the activity book was from three upward, so I figured either one could benefit.

There came a time though, during the ride when they were done with practical toys. My sons yearned for some electronic stimulation and I had no choice but to abide, just not in the manner they expected.

Travel Electronic Memory Game

Travel Electronic Memory Game

Fennell Harris for Hearst

Memory Game

Electronic Memory Game for Kids Ages 8 and Up – amazon.com

8.99Shop Now

I know I said non-electronic travel games, but I’m cheating here. My children are 21st-century children; I have to give them SOMETHING that lights up and makes the beepity boops. They can entertain themselves with abacus’s and parchment rubbings later but for right now it’s the Memory Game time to shine.

Memory Game is a two-inch light and button game that requires you to remember light and sound sequences the longer you play. It sports a key ring, so you can put it on your keys or backpack. And yes, I’m aware that “Memory Game” is a name that is generic as biscuits with no gravy, but Simon is trademarked and this handheld version is made by a company that is decidedly not Hasbro, so…gotta skirt those Copyright infringements somehow. This was the hit of the trip for my oldest; during the vacation, every time we got in the car to travel he would activate the memory game and try to beat it. It’s built well and the batteries are screwed in a way that can’t be opened by little fingers.

I SPY Travel Card Game for Kids

I SPY Travel Card Game for Kids

Fennell Harris for Hearst

I Spy Card Game

Briarpatch I SPY Travel Card Game for Kids – amazon.com

8.99Shop Now

The last up was the I Spy Card Game. Basically, it’s a deck of cards. Every person, sans driver (unless you wanna live recklessly), is issued five cards with images of objects you have to find on the trip. Some are easy, like “find a policeman” or a car of a certain color. Others are more challenging, like trying to find anything star-shaped, which is WAY harder than you think. I was wondering how my youngest would fare because it’s a card game and he’s not the best at those, right now. I didn’t know if the symbols would confuse him or not. Luckily for the family, they didn’t; if he was confused by a picture of a person on a bicycle and called it “motorcycle man” I could correct him, tell him that it’s a person on a bicycle, and he would accept the correction and keep the game moving.



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