Vacation Week: Travel Car Mats

We are about to make a road trip up to New Hampshire for our annual family reunion.
I am stoked about the reunion, but not so stoked about the 14 hour car ride.
I actually don't really mind sitting still for that long.
The thing I dread is when kids get involved.
To me, it is seriously exhausting to entertain a toddler when traveling. Car rides, train trips, plane rides, you name it!
Toddlers are so busy-busy all the time as it is (I'm sure I'm not the only one with a busy toddler, right?), it can be so difficult to keep them happy while confined to such a small space.

So, I've been trying really hard to figure out what kinds of activities to put together for little Ande on our trip.
He is not so big on coloring yet (which really bums me out), but I do know 2 things that he absolutely loves: Cars and Pingu.
Now, I bet you are wondering what the heck a Pingu is. 
Well, let me enlighten you!
It is this crazy, foreign, claymation cartoon show about a Penguin that we found on Netflix one day. It is SO incredibly annoying, but Ande L.O.V.E.S IT. So, that should be easy to take care of with a little car dvd player.
Now, on to his next love, cars.
I Googled and searched online for some good ideas, and I came across several car mats that I just loved.
Here are the few that I found:

These are all pretty creative aren't they?
That car play mat house is pretty amazing.
This car mat idea was right up my alley, and I knew it would be the perfect thing for Ande to play with on his little tray in the car.
I didn't have much time to create anything spectacular, so I just went with something simple.
I sewed some felt to a piece of car fabric that I got at Joann's a while back. Then, I sewed some black felt strips to make the road. I had to do all of the sewing by hand because my sewing machine was being wonky. I was pretty proud of my hand sewing skills (I don't do it very often, because it is tedious!). 

I attached a button and a hair band so that I could roll this baby up when not in use, like a crayon roll (another proud moment).

I cut out some little felt pieces to make a tree, a pond, and some grass. I'll just put these in a little baggy and Ande can take them on and off as he pleases. I am hoping this will add an element of excitement to the mat and keep him entertained just that much longer.

And here it is, all rolled up!

I am waiting until we start driving to show this to Ande so it will be a little more exciting.
I'm pretty sure he'll like it, but not so sure how long it will keep him entertained. 
I'm hoping it will be hours of non-stop, car driving fun for him!
I have high hopes.

Now, if you have girls, I can't help you. I have no clue.

What kinds of activities keep your kids entertained when traveling? I'd love to hear your ideas!


  1. For girls you would make felt "paper" dolls and different felt outfits to dress them in. The little house is amazing but it would be too big for the car. I'll be interested to hear about Ande's reaction.

  2. great inspiration photos, and yours turned out super cute, good job!

  3. That's such a neat idea! Thanks for your process as well as other ideas. I've been meaning to make one of these :)

  4. I have been wanting to make a play-mat for the longest time. You have given me some fabulous ideas. Where do I begin? :)

  5. Thanks for the feature. I love that yours is more interactive by being able to move things around. I hope your son loves it as much as my son loves his. We're about to do a 24 hour train ride, and it will be coming along.