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This $8 Toy Is the Secret to Calm Family Travel with a Preschooler (I Promise)

published Jun 26, 2024
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Water WOW!® Water Reveal Pad – Animals
Credit: Melissa and Doug

Welcome to Cubby ❤️, our series where we share the awesome parent-approved products we personally use and recommend 100%.

I’m a mom of a 4-year-old and a 9-year-old, and there’s nothing I love more than piling my kids in the car or a plane and heading off on adventures together. It should come as no surprise to any parent, though, that I’ve heard those dreaded words —  “Are we there yet?” — one too many times. Finding the perfect travel toy that can entertain my kids for more than a few minutes is hard. The toys are either too bulky for travel, too noisy for small spaces, or too messy. 

Enter: A toy that we keep coming back to trip after trip because it keeps our younger kid occupied and happy. 

We discovered this no-mess painting art activity when our older son was just a wee toddler. In a rush of desperation after forgetting his favorite toy at home, we popped into the airport store and he picked out the Water Wow! Water Reveal Pad-On the Go Travel Activity. If you’re in the dark about this, you’re about to thank me. Brought to you by Melissa & Doug, Water Wow! is a small, durable coloring book with a little pocket on the inside for a handy little pen that you can fill with water. Close the pen, hand it to your child and watch them swipe the pages to make vibrant colors pop up. Each page dries in a few minutes, causing the color to disappear completely and giving your little one a brand-new book to color all over again. It seems simple enough, right? 

Here’s why this is so perfect for calm family travel. 

  • There’s no mess to clean up. The color disappears when it dries. 
  • It’s sturdy enough for chubby little fingers to hold all on their own.
  • The pocket for the pen is amazingly secure so there’s very little chance it drops out on your trip.
  • It provides hours of calm fun for kids as the pages dry and kids can color over them again and again.
  • It’s small enough to add to your shoulder bag for travel without creating extra bulk.
  • It’s less than $10.
  • It promotes early writing and reading skills and fine motor skills.
  • The spiral design means easy page flipping.
  • It promotes independent play. Its design is so simple, even 3-year-olds can use it on their own.
  • It’s not a screen!

This summer, as you head out on your trips with your kids, get one of these. Either snag one before and keep it hidden until needed (so its novelty doesn’t wear off) or pick one up at the airport. Your kids will thank you and maybe, just maybe, you might get to squeeze in a movie for yourself on the plane.