Tip Tuesday — Road Trip Giveaway

wash2Shannon says everyone’s doing giveaways and maybe she’s right…

Since moving to Seattle we’ve put thousands of miles on Vinny, driving back and forth to visit stubborn family all over the country who refuse to pick up stakes and move in next door.

I was even insane enough to travel alone with 2 kids, 14 hours each way to visit my parents this spring. Very seldom do I come across breakthroughs in travel with offspring. This 4th of July week, I came across two.

1. Wash the Car — Every time we stop for gas, the kids want to get out and run around. This usually involves yelling at calling loudly with love and logic to them as they dodge semi trucks in the parking lot, wrenching away the candy that they are loudly clutching to their bosoms in the convenience store and helping them collect cigarette butts in the “field” behind the trash bin.

No more!

washWe now play a new game entitled “Wash the Car” in which the children, in fact, cleanse the family vehicle. While Mommy’s pumping gas and daddy’s powdering his nose, the kids each get their own squeegee and are instructed to clean the car as well as they can until the car wash timer clicks. (It sounds a lot like the handle on a gas pump releasing.)

They love it, especially when the washing fluid is pink, and I feel a bit better paying $10/gallon for gas if they throw in a couple of gallons of fun for free.

toob32. Toobs of Joy — Until this trip, I had yet to find a toy that would keep my toddler busy for more than 30 seconds while he was strapped into our mobile torture chamber.

At the drugstore in our little town, the drugstore where the pharmacists have a baby swing and a pak-n-play behind the counter to keep their kids close at hand, I purchased a toob of joy.

Magoo sat with the Farm Toob on his lap and joyfully emptied out each animal, identified it loudly and then shoved it back in again. He continued like this for at least an hour. As far as I can remember, Magoo has never done anything for an hour since he spent that long keeping himself plugged in my nether-regions during child birth. Apart from one minor incident with a rooster wedged under his butt for a couple of hours, the Farm Toob experience was one of bliss and joy. They’re detailed, well-made and perfectly pudgy-fist-sized.

The Farm Toob is my favorite all time road trip toy and now I want to collect them all.




Even more than that, I want you to have them. So I called the manufacturer Safari LTD and they very kindly sent me two gift packs with three toobs each and some other fun stuff to give away to my readers.

Sadly they included no gift for me, but then I already have the Farm Toob and the memory of an hour of joy on the road.

Leave a comment to be put in a random drawing for the gift packs. I’ll draw 2 winners Friday July 20th at midnight PST.

I’d love to hear your road trip ideas, but you can just say, “Hi,” or, “Give me plastic,” and you’ll still be entered.

If you don’t win, you can buy them here, here, here and here. I’ll be buying them from ye olde tiny drugstore down the street.

***Update – The winners are comment #91 and #99, April C. and Seabird. Congratulations and thanks for all the great tips!***

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121 Responses to Tip Tuesday — Road Trip Giveaway

  1. summershine says:

    I try to have car only toys for the kids to play with whenever we go somewhere. On longer trips I let them bring their leap pads.
    Wish I had more tips for you. Toob toys sound fun. I hope I win!

  2. marcia says:

    youare a genius

  3. Mary says:

    What fabulous ideas! Thank you especially for the farm toob idea. We are flying from Maryland to California next week and this is just the thing to keep two toddlers under age 2 1/2 busy. YEAH! I’m off to Michaels to scour the store for fun in a toob.

  4. KYouell says:

    We are leaving on a 3-day drive (because we aren’t doing the 21-hour straight-through drive with kiddies) to Montana at the end of the month with a 2yo and 2mo. He did the trip last year and did great just watching out the window, but being tall enough to see out was a novelty for him then. Not sure that will be enough to entertain him now. And she occasionally screams when in her car seat for no discernible reason. Whee.

    So, please, tube me, give me the plastic, whatever makes the cosmos help you randomly choose me.

    And my tip is a borrowed one from Antique Mommy: a pinwheel. I’m hoping it works as well for our little guy as it did for hers.

    I’m going to have to get a library card and hit iTunes for the books on tape idea. It would have to have a lot of rhymes to grab his attention though.

  5. Amanda Regan says:

    Here’s my tip for a fun road trip for your toddler / pre schooler.
    I printed some pictures of my toddlers favourite tv characters onto magnetic paper then cut them out.
    I painted an oven tray so it had scenery on it.
    Then when in the car he can stick his characters onto the tray & make up stories for us all to listen to, it works for hours & was really cheap & quick to make.

  6. I am hoping you can send me some plastic, but if not I might have to get purchase my own. We just completed a 36 hour road trip and this would have been nice to have. My two year old son has a hard time sitting in the car, even when I keep handing him munchies and new little toys to play with. Thank goodness for DVD players, that is my tip for you! And borrow some new flicks from the library. New shows will keep their attention longer.

  7. One more tip – the kids love to play with glow sticks in the car!

  8. Sketchy says:

    Is it horrible to say that my most favorite car tip is to purchase a portable dvd player. They will veg out like they have never vegged before, even playing the same old dvd’s you’ve had around the house for the last 10 years…they will veg. But the bad thing is those dumb things are forever getting their heads out of alignment, my engineer hubby explained why this is, but why bore you?

    So now that my kiddos are a little older we do books on tape, almost as much vegging, but that’s OK, I was getting tired of cleaning up the drool. Also I get to pretend that their imaginations are being engaged better than a tv screen as they have to envision the action themselves. Even better than that? The library has tons of childrens titles to choose from…all free…just don’t lose them on your trip.

  9. Sheila says:

    So fun! We are attempting a 10 1/2 hour road trip in a few weeks and I need all the help I can get!

    I would love a toob!

  10. Huckaby Fam says:

    Okay, if this toob will keep my wee car seat screamer occupied for even 10 minutes, it will be worth its weight in gold!!! Count me in!

  11. Stephanie says:

    For any road trip we always have the stack of movies (they can watch 2 a day) but now we are buying the cheap $0.88 toys at Wal-Mart. The kids can open one new toy every hour. My friend also does a paper chain where the kids can pull off a chain link each hour. Now Toob me!

  12. Mummymac says:

    Our holidays are coming up too

    Count me in

  13. Melessa says:

    Ooh! An hour of peace and joy on the road?! Sign me up for that drawing!

  14. glittersmama says:


    Do the pharmacists really bring their kids to work?

  15. Andrea Braun says:

    Go to the dollar store and get a metal baking pan (the kind with a lip on it.) Laminate (or use a page protector) a sheet of paper with fun things to do. For my older kids, this has been a map of the USA that they can mark off each state we pass through. For the younger ones, a tic tac toe board or hangman, etc. They can use magnets because of the metal, or dry erase markers because of the lamination. We travel a lot and these trays always give the kids something to do. They are also great lap trays for eating snacks or playing with toys with little pieces.

  16. Thea says:

    Plastic, please…

    My husband is a big fan of earplugs for himself during roadtrips…

  17. Eve says:

    here! here! throw it here!

  18. Ross says:

    We picked up a magnetic book that had Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head(one on each side). It came with lots of different things with which you could dress them up with.Our five year old grandson played with it for hours, until his great grandmother infromed him that Mr. Potato Head shouldn’t be wearing Mrs. Potato Head’s stuff. The main rule with vehicle playthings is”there are no rules”(as long as there is nothing flying or otherwise obstructing the driver).Let the kids imaginations run wild. Enter me in the toob drawing please. I can play with them while the wife drives.

  19. Farm Wife says:

    Give me plastic! No, wait, I can do better than that.

    I love the car wash Idea…and with 4 kids, we could probably make a few bucks to pay for the gas if I farm them out to wash other cars filling up. I’m all about child labor!

    My mom picks up little sticker books for the kids when we take long car trips. http://www.doverpublications.com Dover sticker books ususally have a theme and they can decorate a rain forest or dress a ballerina or design a robot & the best part…the stickers are reusable so they won’t adhere permanently to your van’s interior. I love them!

  20. Thanks for the shout-out! I have no brilliant tricks to offer; mine aren’t the sort that get you nominated for Mother of the Year. (i.e., Dramamine and drop-down DVD players.)

  21. Donna says:

    Toob me, please!

  22. Melissa says:

    Books on tape, DVD’s, snacks in premeasured amounts in zip lock baggies (so no one say he has more Cheetos then me). When I only had two little kids I must have had more time and energy and I used to wrap up various dollars store toys and treats and they got to open one every 100 miles or so. That hasn’t happened for about 4 years but it worked well!

  23. Azul says:

    Worksheets in heavy-duty page protectors are a fun travel activity. They can be used over and over with dry-erase markers. For us though, this is only offered when I can sit in the back with Chico. One green-colored dry erase marker stain in my car is more than enough for me.

  24. Tiffany says:

    OK, I must admit I skipped the 73 comments to get down here so I can be entered. When my oldest was 2, I bought a Magna Doodle specifically for a road trip. He’d never seen one before. We couldn’t rip it out of his hands when we got to our destination. My youngest could not care less about them. So, it might work for some and not for others.

    My SIL loves the markers that only write on the special paper-you-buy-at-exorbinant-amounts-but-save-from-replacing-your-carseats-and-clothes for road trips.

  25. Teri says:

    Roadtrip idea: notebook full of blank paper and colored pencils (never ever crayons- ever! Think hot car, sun beating down on it.)

    OH, and bubbles and balls to play at rest stops.

    Now- please may I have some plastic?

  26. KristineWe says:

    My 3-year-old daughter just started enjoying listening to books on CD in the car. Her favorites are Curious George (any title) and Corduroy. We used to let her watch DVDs when she got really antsy, but I’m hoping the books on CD will hold her attention just as much as the videos. Wishful thinking, maybe, but a girl can hope!

  27. Road trip ideas: dress-up magnet dolls (barbies, princesses, etc) kept in old cookie tins. That and lots and lots of singing. Oh, the singing.

  28. Jenny says:

    Those look really neat! We like suckers for road trips…sure they’re a little messy and sugary, but they do keep the kids happy for a little while. We also do books on CD. For long trips we get some cheap new toys to bust out along the way.

  29. Syndi says:

    ME! ME! I have a 9 hour trip to Buffalo, NY at the end of the month with a 3 year old. 🙂

  30. Heffalump says:

    We recently got an inexpensive laminator at W-Mart (less than $25) and it is great for laminating things like dots games, tic tac toe, bingo cards, or you can laminate stickers of their favorite characters. You can also laminate a picture of each person in your family’s head, and then laminate different outfits and accessories (tops and pants seperately) and Laylee can mix and match the outfits and heads however she wants. Same with the stickers. You can use a wooden clipboard and paint it with magnetic paint and then use it as a backdrop. Small cloth bags with the stickers or accessories can be clipped at the top of the clipboard. If you want to use laminated stuff with dry erase you can get wipe off crayons, they won’t color on your car interior the way a pen will and they won’t dry off, but you can still wipe them off pretty easily. Then you can laminate coloring pages and they can use them over and over. You can also make a laminated book pretty easily and punch holes in it and connect it with a key ring, then the book is spill proof and grime proof because you can just wipe it off.
    I have also seen small sets made to fit in a cup holder that open up to have different games or roads for matchbox cars. I think they are called Car-Go sets. They have uno as well as some different kids toy sets.

  31. Tiana says:

    give me plastic please.

  32. Sarah says:

    I’ve taken foil and pipe cleaners, and had the kids make creations out of them. We also sing fun songs and read books out loud. Those Toob toys sound really fun. I’ll have to check that out.

  33. Lammyann says:

    Having logged in more traveltime in my life than anyone here… I think I should be the lucky winner….
    What?! I have to take turns and play nice!?
    Love readin’ your stuff, hun!

  34. Each of my kiddos takes a small bag filled with whatever little toys they want. I also take Magnadoodles for each of them, it keeps them busy for a long time. Long enough to make it on a 14 hour trip with relatively few stops and meltdowns.

  35. Barb says:

    I’m preparing for a 2 week road trip, but I don’t have preschoolers – would a 6 year old like a tube???
    I just bought a book/CD set called car-i-oke that I’m hoping will make the time fly between SLC and Reno.

  36. mother of the wild boys says:

    First of all, I bet Dan uses the same powder for his nose as my DH does…
    Second, I love the car wash idea, although I bet you got some funny looks.
    Third, you are hilarious as always, and so thoughtful to call and get us some Toobs…..give me plastic!

  37. Lacey says:

    Road trip tips: I use the confined time to teach/sing our phone number and address. I sing our phone number/address to a little tune to help the little ones learn the important information. It helped my little one to learn info by the age of 3.

    tip: If you can purchase food from a grocery store and skip the fast food. Even if it is a loaf of bread and PB&J it is much better than ff every meal.

    My little ones would love some animals in a tube!

  38. Mom2Six says:

    Wow! You have more comments than I can take time to read at the moment!

    My family reads long books out loud, such as Harry Potter or Little House on the Prairie.

    I was wondering how to keep my toddler and pre-schooler occupied for 16 hours in their carseats at a time this summer. Maybe you have just solved my dilemma. Thanks!

  39. Kathryn in NZ says:

    LOL – 24 hr road trips would get you from one end of this country to other! But we do do 4x60min trips per week with the odd 5 hour trip thrown in (the joys of competitive gymnastics). My DDs are currently 5 & 10 and I have just succumbed to the DVD idea, only I went one whole step further and got a cheap laptop so that I could interchange the DVDs with Reader Rabbit etc – plus the screen is twice the size of portable DVD players.
    Prior to the laptop? Books, paper and coloured pencils, games of I Spy and spot the letters on signs, spot the cars (eg there’s one like Granma’s etc), audio books.
    Is definitely getting easier now they’re older and can read/write.
    Love your blog, btw 🙂

  40. april says:

    i love road trips (despite the times i’m pretending to be asleep so kids don’t bug me).
    *”i’m going on a bear hunt” dragged out and acted well works well when my kids are toddler aged.
    *my 2nd grader always like to pick a word and then we go around seeing how many rhymes we can come up with. if you can’t make a rhyme, you’re out.
    *kind of nerdy, but my dad would have us name the presidents (of the U.S.) when we were on road trips. i still like to review them and my daughter loves to quiz me (i have a placemat with all of them on it – although my daughter is getting close to the age where she’ll be doing the naming). my dad was smart enough to have all these obscure facts about the presidents memorized and would randomly share them as we went through the list.
    *i was hesitant to get one since i have fond memories of the playing games on road trips, but really, they just work so well. thank you portable DVD creator wherever you are!

  41. April C. says:

    I’ve heard that stringing Fruit Loops onto a string and making an edible necklace is a good idea. Never actually done it myself….but it seems like it might keep them busy for a minute or two. But baby wipes, lots and lots of baby wipes are always good 🙂

  42. Aimee says:

    Great tips! I just heard a tip from a friend–trade toys with another mom for summer road trips. Then dole them our slowly. Both kids get new and interesting toys to keep them occupied and you don’t have to spend any money!!

  43. Tonya says:

    My son would love those. I’ll sing his little song for it. Okay here we go ” I want, I want, I want gimme gimme gimme”

  44. Jessica G. says:

    When I thought I would hurl myself from the moving vehicle, I would bring out my secret weapon: a small, wrapped gift for each child. The gift was a small toy (new board book, small animal, stuffed animal, new crayons, etc) but the fact that it was wrapped made it all the more awe-inspiring for the kids.

    And the best advice I ever received for traveling with a child in the final stages of potty training: bring the potty with you! We kept her little training potty in the back of the van, just behind her seat so she could easily get to it. Also had a designated bottle of water for rinsing and a stack of spare napkins. 🙂

  45. Emily says:

    I have fond memories of road trips as a kid. Long before the invention of the DVD player and built-in TV screens, my father took a large drill to the top of our 1989 mini-van and installed the means of hooking a 7″ TV to the top of the car (right between the front seats, so all the kids could see). On long car trips, we’d bring the nintendo and the VCR player and play duck hunt or watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks to our heart’s delight.

    As for the “Toobs”, I’ve seen a Pirate Toob, too! My local Michael’s store (Orem, UT) sells them.

  46. karen says:

    how about a cookie sheet with magnetic numbers/letters?
    you can also use it as a drawing board.

  47. ROBYN says:


  48. Erin says:

    Cool idea. Especially since my hubby is a dairy farmer and my 4-yr -old is into anything having to do with farming. We have 5 young kids, so I am trying to think of our “travel tip”…. Magnadoodles are always good, and they make small travel size ones, too. That’s all I can come up with for now.

  49. SeaBird says:

    DVD player – the best cure for road trip blues!

  50. Amanda says:

    My daughter could spend hours upon hours putting small items into a receptacle and then taking them out. Rinse and repeat. These would put me ahead of Daddy in the race for Favored Parent!!

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