Many parents dread long road trips and airplane rides with their kids. Children have short attention spans, and spending hours in a confined space with energetic little ones is not anyone’s idea of a good time!
But why not try some fun activities to make your travel time a fun and memorable part of the journey? Here you’ll find 10 easy, mess-free ways to keep the troops entertained – and maintain your sanity.
Word games are the king of travel amusements. They don’t require anything but a few ideas and a lot of imagination. Have your whole crew create a story by having one parent start with, “Once upon a time, there was a…” This game is guaranteed to cause giggles as each family member takes turns adding a sentence and the story unfolds in silly and exciting twists.
Your kids can also have a blast thinking up scenarios with conversation starters. Bring some index cards with thought-provoking questions (“If you had a million dollars what would you buy? What superpower would you want to have, and why?”) and give everyone a chance to answer with their own unique ideas.
Custom memory games are a fun twist on an old classic. Choose 12 of your favorite photos and have them made into a fun and versatile memory card game that every kid will love. You can make your set from family photos, pictures of your kids’ favorite toys or even your child’s best artwork. Bring lap trays for your kids to lay their cards on as they match their cards or use them to create tall tales about the photos.
Tiny Toy Travel Kits
Tiny toy kits are super cute, portable and engrossing – just what every kid wants for their trip. Grab some old candy or mint tins and fill them with some miniature toys: a couple Lego guys, some small dolls with accessories or felt animals. Kids have a blast making scenes in their tins and getting lost in their own tiny world!
Personalized Board Book
Children love pictures of themselves and their families, and a personalized board book is a great way to keep all your loved ones close! You can even tailor it to fit your trip by choosing photos of the family that you’re heading to visit, and telling stories about each member as you travel. You can also get creative by adding in some photos of places you will see along the way, or of favorite memories like birthday parties or holidays.
Got some extra metal cookie sheets at home? Turn them into magnet boards! Bring them on your trip along with a bag of assorted number and letter magnets, and let your kids make messages on their boards as you drive or fly. You can even have the boards do double-duty by first painting them with black chalk paint, so that they can double as a chalkboard.
Image: Stephanie Bryan
Coloring and drawing are great quiet travel activities, but keeping all the crayons from getting dropped and scattered across the floor can be a serious challenge. Make your own travel clipboards that open up into a compartment to hold coloring pages and utensils so you can avoid this hassle. Pack them full of crayons, coloring books or activity sheets, then kick back and enjoy the sounds of silence.
No trip is complete without a sing-along! Have the whole family collaborate to create a playlist before you leave, so everyone can include their favorite songs. Help your kids think of unique contributions that specifically relate to travel or some aspect of your trip, then belt them out as you drive!
No doubt you’ve heard of busy bags before – they’re a perfect way to give your kids something to do with objects you can find around your house or pick up for a just a few dollars. Fill plastic zipper-seal bags with pom-poms, Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners or other inexpensive items, and have your children use them to make patterns, create a picture or practice motor skills.
I Spy in a Bottle
“I Spy” is a classic travel game, but maybe one that is a little overused. Instead, try a different form of “I Spy” by filling an empty one-liter pop bottle full of rice, then adding small objects in for kids to find. Use buttons, coins, small toys and other colorful items, and watch your kids quietly turn and shake their bottles to discover what’s inside.
Binders have limitless possibilities when it comes to travel! Create personalized binders for your kids with maps, pictures, coloring pages, mazes, mad-libs and any other activity you can think of. You can tailor it around the places you intend to see on your trip, or the activities that you have planned. This way kids can enjoy some learning activities as they anticipate all the excitement of the trip!
Try some of these fun and engaging crafts and games on your next family vacation. You’ll love the peace and quiet, and they’ll love the entertainment!