I frequently get asked what I pack in the car for Z-Rex. I deliver locally for Farm Table so I've got 3 kids under 4 in the car for around 3 hours every week, plus all the day trips we do to nearby attractions. Hopefully this post will give you some ideas and get you prepared for your next family adventure.
My first piece of advice it to be prepared. Pack plenty of busy bag activities, fidget toys, snacks, and music. Plan plenty of stops for potty and to get the wiggles out.
Let's talk about storage. I LOVE LOVE these clear plastic pencil pouches. They keep all the pieces together and are easy for the kids to use independently.
31 zipper pouches are also amazing for busy bags. I keep Magformers in one, fidget toys in another, and Z's mail center in yet another. They are super durable and washable.
I get these little bins at IKEA in the children's section. A 3 pack is just $1.99! Right now I've got a mini play dough kit and a few letter puzzles in them.
Another item I'm in LOVE with is theses Lakeshore Learning messy trays. We use them frequently for projects and they make an excellent lap tray in the car. Perfect work space for dry erase letters or our mini play dough kit!
Notebooks are always a HUGE hit for a busy bag with all the tots. I've included different size notebooks and a variety of pencils: regular size, carpenter style, one made from a stick, and a thicker beginner pencil (not pictured). Another way to squeeze in a little handwriting practice while keeping it fun is a mail station. Note cards, cardstock, envelopes, and markers. Z loves to write letters to his friends!
We try to never leave home without Z's favorite LEGO kit. Normally at home we play with Duplos so the little bricks are a big time treat. This is great for car rides, waiting rooms, and even restaurants. It was really simple to make too. I used a metal lunch box then hot glued magnetic strips on a small LEGO plate. The building plate sticks to the lid while the box contain all the extra pieces.
Stickers and paper are another easy favorite. I peel off the backing of each sticker sheet to help little fingers and ease frustration. I cut construction paper in half so that it easily fits into a plastic pencil pouch. Check out my Pinterest Busy Bag board for more ideas.
Science kits are a must have for us. These are all rocks we've found at a local creek plus a few of his favorite shells. I keep his headlamp in here, but he also uses it in the dark with his other activities. The magnifying glasses and rocks keep him engaged for quite a while. We have another science kit with magnets in it. The divided containers are from IKEA for around $3.
This Melissa & Doug board never leaves the car. Dry erase on one side and magnetic on the other. I rotate out different magnets sets of letters, shapes, animals, and a few others to keep it fresh. Crayola dry erase crayons are as much fun to draw with as they are to erase. I was pleasantly surprised when we tried them out. Bonus they don't seem to melt in a hot car as long as the are out of direct sun.
Z is is big time fidget. He ALWAYS needs something to keep his hands busy. I keep a stash in the car and our go bag all the time. The car is also the one place we allow battery operated toys, so we've got a few of those too. For nighttime travels those crazy light up toys are a HUGE HIT! we found a Buzz Lightyear at the Disney store and he is very loved. You can also pick up glow sticks at the dollar store.
Lastly I keep everything neat and organized in a big 31 utility tote. It's really full right now as we gear up for a weekend away.