We’re about to head on one of our annual summer road trips, which means packing plenty of toys for the car. We try to avoid the DVD–and generally succeed if we’ve planned ahead. Here, some of my favorite toys for the car for toddlers and bigger kids, for when you’re tired of I Spy, and need a little quiet time in the front seat.

Best of all, none of them beep or boop or require 18 AAA batteries. The only noises you’ll hear in the back are your happily entertained kids. At least until the next “I have to pee, mom!” Liz

Sticker Books
I just saw some of the new sticker books from Usborne Activities in my local toy shop and was reminded of how fantastic they are. They’re beautifully done, with loads of pages, and dozens of themes from knights and fairies to Victorian ladies, pirates and sports. There are even topics like trucks, shapes, and nursery rhymes for little kids–provided they promise not to stick them on the back seat. ($6.99-8.99 from Usborne or indie toy and book stores everywhere.)

Road trip toys: Tegu blocks travel pouch

Tegu blocks pocket pouch
We fell in love with the eco-friendly magnetic wooden blocks from Tegu the second they came out, and it’s terrific that now there’s a smaller set in a pouch that’s perfect for the car or plane. I love the classic mahogany, but kids might enjoy the colored Tegu Blocks. ($32) If you prefer a bigger set, there’s a convenient Tegu carrying case that’s pretty darn cute. ($24; blocks separate)

Road trip toys: Squiggle On-the-Go Pads

Squiggle On-The-Go Pads
These simple pads require only a pencil or crayon and some imagination. The job is to turn the squiggle into a picture–something we tend to play on restaurant craft paper tablecloths even without the book. In other words, I’d imagine you could make your own with a journal or notebook, although grabbing a few of these pads is pretty darn convenient. ($6.59-9.49 from our affiliate Amazon)

Road trip toys: Etch-A-Sketch

I’m still a fan of this over Magnadoodles and similar sketching toys. Because it requires fine motor skills (and doesn’t always come out exactly as you want it) it’s way more challenging, and keeps kids entertained way longer. There’s a travel size Etch-A-Sketch too if you want a smaller size–or need several for multiple kids. ($14.63, 11.21 at Amazon or at any indie toy store)

Road trip toys: magnetic travel backgammon

Magnetic Travel Checkers or Magnetic Travel Backgammon
I’ve always loved having magnetic checkers in my bag for entertainment emergencies, and stashing one in the car is a great idea too. Kids old enough to be in boosters (and not 14 feet apart in the backseat) can play together by passing them back and forth. Plus they’re fun once you hit your destination too, especially on rainy days. ($6 at Travel Kiddy, a great shop for travel toys and games)


Road trip activities: Mad Libs

In all these decades, MadLibs still entertain kids–and their parents. Kids too young to do it themselves need your help; we just call out the parts of speech from the front seat then wait for the giggles. It’s also a great way for kids to learn parts of speech. ($6.99 at our affiliate Amazon)


Backseat A-B-See book

Backseat A-B-See Book
Provided you don’t have a kid who gets car sick from reading, early readers will love recognizing the signs and travel imagery in the book, then trying to spot it out the window in the real world. Depending on your kid, this might be better for once you’ve arrived at your destination–you be the judge. ($11.18 at Amazon)