Travel Binders for Younger Kids

Whew, it’s been a whirlwind lately. We made it through the end of school craziness that is May so I’m celebrating our summer freedom by finally getting around to this promised post from about three months ago. Better late than never, right? Last post, I showed you the travel binders I use for my kids who are 4 and up and can now be trusted with a washable maker. That wasn’t always the case so here’s a peek at the travel binders we used when they were toddlers.

For these binders almost all of the pages are file folder games. I print and laminate the file folder game. Then I stick Velcro dots to the game pieces and pages. The kids then stick the pieces to the correct spot on the page. The example above is a simple color matching game. The kids match the small colored dot to the large colored circle. The game pieces are stored in a small Ziploc bag in between the games of each corresponding game.

Here are some of the games we have used in the past:

The first page of all the younger kids’ travel binders is always a simple name matching game. This can easily be made in a word .doc. I create a table with two rows and enough columns to fit their name. I fill the first row with one letter of their name per cell and leave the second column blank. I print and laminate two copies. One I cut apart to make the matching pieces. I place Velcro dots in the pieces and blank row so the kids can match each letter of their name.

Our younger kids’ binders also always include this fun street map.  We travel with a few small cars that they can drive around on the map. We also always include this travel I spy game.  The kids have binoculars made out of toliet paper rolls and masking tape that they use to play this game.

I won’t lie. This setup does mean I spend a lot of our travel breaks digging the game pieces out of car seats, but the 30 to 45 minutes of entertainment are worth it to me. If your child is older and can be trusted with a washable marker, check out my ideas for older kids’ travel binders here.


Travel Binders

We are getting ready to take a road trip south to get away from our mountains of snow for the upcoming spring break week. One of the first things I do when to start prepping for a road trip is get my kids’ road trip binders ready. Travel binders are a great boredom buster that doesn’t involve a screen.  Here’s a peek at what my big kids road trip binders look like.

The binder is just a cheap 1 inch binder that I’ve attached a washable dry eraser marker to using hot glue and sting. The American flag duct tape is  there to cover up the hot glue so  my curious kids don’t pick it off.  The binder is full of plastic page protectors that I fill with age appropriate worksheets and activities.

The first couple of pages in each kid’s binder is a Google Map of our driving route each day. To make these I enter our starting and ending points in Google Map and do a print screen. I paste the print screen into a word doc and crop the picture to my liking. The start and stop button are online clip art images I inserted. These maps always help the kids feel like they have some idea of where we are going each day and give them an idea of how long we will be in the van.

The rest of the papers are either worksheets that are easy for them to complete without my help or games to be played in the car. Here are some links to printables I have used.

These are just a few examples of free printables available that work for this travel binder. If there is something specific that interests your kid, Google or Pinterest has never failed me. Next week, I will give you a peek at the travel binder I use for younger kids who are not ready to be trusted with a marker and long string.


Dealing with Car Sick Kids

Whether it be from a flu or just car sickness, all parents will probably deal with a puking kid on a car trip at some point. Now that you’ve prepared your minivan for a car sick kid, let’s talk about how to put that plan into action.

Use those Doggie Bags

As soon as one of my kids announce that they feel queasy, I hand back one of those dog poop bags I hide in my minivan. (Disclaimer: my kids are all front facing and old enough that their heads are too big to stick in the bag. ) Then each time they start to gag, I remind them to aim for the bag. The bag can then be tied off until we get to a garbage. With a  quick tear from the roll, I hand the kid another bag for the next time. 

Pull out the Glove Box Wipes

Along with the doggie bag , my queasy kids get a wipe right away too. The younger kids wear the wipe as a bib to catch dribbles and hopefully save their clothes. The older kids just use it to wipe mouth and hands. 

Wipes are pretty useful when it comes to cleaning up an unexpected throw up that doesn’t hit a bag. It might take half a pack, but we’ve used wipes to make a car seat cover clean enough to make it to our destination. 

Keep an Eye out for a Car Wash

Sadly, not all sick kids hit a bag. Sometimes it’s all over them and everything else. This is when a car wash is your new best friend. After a car seat cover has been removed, there’s no reason not to spray the car seat off with a self serve car wash.  Remember those car mats we talked about last week, now’s the time to pull those out and hose them down too. It might be a little wet, but hopefully a lot less smelly.

Limit Snacks and Drinks

While some might think this is a no brainer, it’s worth a mention. I handle my car sick kids just the same as my sick kids at home. That means limited drinks and snacks. All of my kids beg for water when they don’t feel well. I’ve learned from experience it’s best to not give more than about an ounce every 15 to 30 minutes unless I want it to all come back up. Also unless we are on a really long ride, we do no snacks for our sick kids until we reach our destination. 

Pray for a Long Nap

Riding with a sick kid is no fun for anyone in the minivan. The best thing that can happen for a sick kid is a long nap. I always figure any time they spend sleeping is that much closer to our final destination. 

So that’s all my tips and tricks for car sick kids. Share any tips you have in the comments.  If you missed it last week, check out my post about prepping your minivan for sick kids here. May all your future minivan trips be vomit free. 



Flu season is here again. Thankfully during the recent round that went through my home, we kept it out of the minivan. That hasn’t always been the case. Whether it’s the flu or just a carsick kid, puke in the minivan happens. With 3 kids and an aging dog, I’ve had enough experience with puke in my minivan to develop a good system. In fact, so much I’ve decided to spilt this into two posts. First up, how to prepare your minivan for sick kids.

Invest in Good Car Mats

Some of the best money we’ve ever spent has been on the floor mats. We have these. Our mats cover under the entire backseat area and have a lip. Anything that escapes onto the floor from a sick kid stays on the mat and can be easily hosed off.

Carry Bags

After one or two episodes of sick kids in my minivan, I’ve always had bags within arms reach in my minivan. I’ve found that the little rolls of dog poop bags are also perfect for a sick kid. They are small enough that most kids can mange to hold them easily yet large enough to accomplish the job. It’s easy to tear off a new bag to exchange for a dirty one. The roll is so small and discreet it’s easy to find a place to store them for emergencies.

I also always have several Walmart bags in the back of my minivan for garbage or clothing that needs to be washed.  While this bag trick works great with a forward facing kid who can be easily monitored, I wouldn’t recommend handing a bag to a rear facing kid. Better in that case to have an adult sit next to them with the bag if possible.

Store Wipes in the Glove Box

Not only is it nice to be able to hand a sick kid wipes to clean their hands and face. It’s also amazing how much car set clean up can be done with a pack of wipes. More on that next week.

Keep A Change of Clothes in the Minivan

My 2 year old in a 6 month dress.

This one can seem like a no brainer, but all of us mommas are guilty of not keeping up on sizes for those minivan spares. In fact, this has happened to me with my own daughter. Here she is at 2 in a 6 month dress after her momma didn’t replace her minivan spares.

Don’t be like this momma. Since this incident I make a habit of checking the minivan spares every time the season changes. All of my minivan spares are stored in a Thirty One Pack n Pull Caddy left over from my diaper changing days.

Buy a Spare Car Seat Cover

This one isn’t necessary for everyone, but if you have the child who vomits on every car ride it’s something to consider.  Many manufactures sell replacement car seat covers. My oldest was the king of spit up as a baby. After one stinky car ride with him riding in a spit up covered car set, we ordered a replacement cover.

So now that your minivan is prepared for the sick kid, here are my tricks for managing puking kids. Any great preparation tips of your own? Leave them in the comments below. I would love to hear them.


How Buying a Minivan Changed My Life

I love being a minivan momma and couldn’t imagine a life without my minivan. Flashback a couple of decades, and 16 year old me swore to anyone who would listen that I would never be caught dead driving a minivan. A couple of rear facing car seats and a hatchback later, here I am, alive and well, happily driving my minivan. While I knew purchasing a minivan would give us much needed space, I didn’t expect it to have such an impact on my life.  

minivan, baby wearing
The baby that filled the 3rd car seat in the minivan.

When we first purchased our minivan we were the parents of two boys ages 3 and 1 and weren’t planning on another baby. Then the salesman, showed us how the middle row of seats could expand to fit 3 car seats. One year later, we made good use of that feature when our daughter was born. Can I say for certain that we wouldn’t have expanded our family without a minivan? No, but it sure was an easier knowing where a 3rd car seat would fit.

About 4 months after the birth of my daughter, my husband convinced me another family road trip was in order. We had been forced to take one two years earlier for a wedding of a close family member and I wouldn’t classify it as an enjoyable experience. Thank to my minivan, this time around was awesome!

Kids need snacks? No problem, I will walk down the main aisle like an airplane stewardess. Baby needs to nurse? Just pull into that parking lot. I can nurse her in the back and lay her across the empty middle row to change her diaper. We’ve been on 3 long road trips and many short road trips since purchasing our minivan. I don’t think I would have agreed to many of them with any other vehicle.

One of the best things about owning a minivan, is that it’s allowed me to become a momma who can help out other mommas. When a momma friend needs a hand getting a kid to practice or has a sitter cancel for the day last minute, I am able to say yes even if it means having to squeeze an extra car seat in. There’s no way I could provide my momma friends that kind of help with a hatchback.

16 year old me thought owning a minivan would mean my life was over. In reality, purchasing a minivan has given me the opportunity make wonderful memories with my family.  I wouldn’t want to drive anything else at this point in my life.

Still on the fence about buying a minivan after reading this? Check this out and trust me every word is true.