Surviving our Road Trip to Denali National Park with Toddlers

This year was our first year to enter the Denali road lottery and to our huge surprise, we won a pass!

This was both exciting and nerve wracking.  Exciting because we would get to drive into Denali National Park in the comfort of our own car and be able to stop and explore wherever and whenever we wanted.  Nerve wracking because, our girls hate riding in the car and Arrow gets car sick.  Not a winning combination for a trip that would require us to be in the car for basically three days straight!

So the planning started!

I realized that entertaining my 3 year old was going to be a lot easier than my 16 month old.

Thankfully I remembered reading one of my blogger friends posts about her road trip and what she put together for their toddler to help keep him entertained.  She has lots of neat ideas.   Check out her Road Trip Survival Tips for Traveling With a Toddler post here!

I used her wrapping toys idea as well as making a toy out of something we already had but in a little bit of a different way.

Sensory Toys

For Piper, my 16 month old, I cut strips of fabric and stuffed it into our OBall as well as some crocheted spirals that I’ve had laying around for making flowers to add a little fun texture and color.  She loves pulling stuff out of boxes, like all the tissues…. all the baby wipes…. you get the idea. 🙂  So I figured she might be a fan of pulling all the fabric and crochet ribbons out!


I also had an empty baby wipes container (hmm can you guess why?) so I thought since it was one of her favorite toys that I would put some little animals in it so she could take them out and put them back in through the little rubber opening that she loves.

Mystery Books

So for the wrapping toys idea (genius btw) instead of wrapping toys I thought I would wrap books and make it a little more interesting for my 3 year old.  So what we did is; I had her help me wrap them and put numbers on them.  Then we made matching numbers to put in a container so she could draw out a number and that would be her mystery book that she could open!

She had a blast helping me make this game.  This killed two birds with one stone.  While helping me get this game ready it gave me the opportunity to explain to her that we were going on a LONG car trip and that all these fun toys and games were for the special car trip!

I think it was really smart to have her help and get involved.  It prepared her for the ride and she realized that we were going to be in our carseats for a very long time.

Sensory Bottles

Arrow also helped make a couple of sensory bottles.  One we just put water in and the other was half colored water and half oil.  They loved shaking them and looking at the stuff inside.  Didn’t last for long periods of time but it was a nice distraction toy to give them for just a few minutes.

I would love to take some time to make some really neat ones for next time.  Arrow loves anything treasure hunt so next time I want to make her a treasure hunt one filled with rice where she shakes it to find hidden items.

Snack Attack Box

Snacks are pretty much a given.  We brought what I called the “Snack Attack Box.”  It was exactly that.  We were preparing for full blown melt downs so we had that thing packed with EVERYTHING.  Little tip: If all else fails, give them a sucker- if you don’t mind the mess!  haha  (Thanks again Ayana! Click here to read: Best Snacks for Busy Toddlers on the Go)

Maybe try to give your kids…. not a blue sucker.  hahaha 🙂

Snack Necklace

I know you aren’t supposed to play with your food but that’s no fun.  So I thought we would make snacks a little cooler by making a necklace!  It was a hit!   It entertained my 16 month old longer than my 3 year old (which I’m totally ok with!  lol).  Arrow put 3 things on her necklace and was done then just wanted to eat out of the container.  haha


I made Piper one and she just chilled back there forever eating it till it was all gone!  She was fascinated with it!  I’ve never given her snacks like that before!  Will remember this one for sure!

I just put Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and Pretzels on Piper’s necklace.  Arrow loved the Gummy LifeSavor Candies.

Paper Chain Map

I had this grand idea to make a paper chain map.  For every town we passed you could write it on a link and could add a link for how long we were in the car (I was going to do one link for every 30 minutes to an hour) to be a visual to look back on our grand trip, but Arrow wasn’t too interested in it.  It could be because she was car sick at the time we were doing it (luckily she only got sick a few times and it only lasted the morning!) so I just never got it back out and tried.  But this might be a neat idea to do with older kids!

Melissa and Doug of Course

So for Arrow, our 3 year old, I bought her the Color Blast on the Go coloring books.  Those are her favorite.  No mess and super easy.  Also anything with stickers.  She had fun with the giant Make-a-Face sticker pad as well as their puffy animal stickers and play scenes.

Cookie Sheet Play Tray

So I brought a cookie tray for two reasons.  The first, I taped pieces of paper onto the tray to make a play scene.  A road and a picnic area for her to play with a car and her little dolls.

The second was it made a perfect lap tray for her to color on.  My husband printed off a ton of free coloring and dot pages and she had a blast using her new dot markers and coloring.  It worked really well!


When they were all snacked out and Mommy didn’t want them to have any more suckers, bubbles came to the rescue!  Bubbles are magic.  Always have been, always will be.  They will turn those frowns upside down every. single. time.  As long as you can be all twisted around blowing bubbles in their face and not faint from too much bubble blowing, you’re golden!  😉


It’s a wonderful thing.  Baby Einstein and Peppa Pig.  ‘Nough said. 🙂

Kids Music

My girls LOVE music.  Raffi was our saving grace.  Both of our girls are very fond of him so I went on Amazon and bought his 3 CD bundle set and I am SO GLAD I DID.  It almost works better than watching shows.  They love him that much.  lol

Don’t forget Teddy!

It goes without saying that whatever stuffed animal or lovey your kiddo uses to go to sleep you won’t want to forget.  Piper is a baby who has to have her bed to sleep but to my surprise, I gave her her baby and I covered her with her blanket, put on Raffi, told her go night night, and within ten minutes she was fast asleep back there.  Cutest thing ever.


So to recap!

What worked best for my kids:

3 Year Old:

Melissa and Doug Color Blast on the Go

Mystery Books

Dot Markers/Coloring Pages


Ipad shows/games




16 Month Old:


Snack Necklace


Ipad Shows

Mystery Books



Hope this helps with any future trips you have planned!

What all have you used on trips traveling with your kids?  Leave me some tips in the comments!  I can always use more help!  lol



    1. I hope they work for you! Another good idea for the airplane is those sticky window clings! Even if you don’t have a window seat they can use the tray to stick them to!

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