“Are we there yet?”
“How much longer?”
All parents wish they could avoid all of these dreaded children’s complaints. When you’re traveling with your family it can be hard to keep children under control. Many children don’t like sitting still or being in a confined area. It’s up to you to open the gateways for your child’s imagination. We have a few ideas that are not only fun and stimulating, but will also keep your child occupied and happy when you’re on-the-go!
One of best ways to get your child excited about your trip is to keep him or her involved. Have your child create a journal of your journey. All you need to do is provide some paper, crayons, stickers, and maybe even a sticker camera. Don’t go overboard and pack glue and scissors – your child will end up making a mess with such hard to travel with items. Once your child has his supplies, the rest is up to him! Write a story about the different sights you see out the car window. If you don’t like writing, draw pictures of what you see. Sticker cameras are fun for kids too. They take mini instant photos and print them out on paper with adhesive backing. If you can keep your child excited about the trip, he or she is less likely to complain about the traveling.
Another good way to keep your child occupied with the fun aspects of traveling is to set up a scavenger hunt! Instead of the classic I-spy games, give your child new things to look for, and even start up a little competition. Your child will love looking out the car window to make fun sightings. If you have more than one child, organize the scavenger hunt list into different Bingo charts. Each time your child sees one of the items on their Bingo list, they can check it off. Whichever child reaches “Bingo” first is the winner! Adapt your list to wherever you may be traveling to. For example, if you will be on highways common sightings may include old tires or foreign license plates. If you’re traveling to the beach you may want to include some items you’ll see as you approach your destination (such as sailboats, surfboards, or seagulls). Many online websites offer worksheets you can print out or you can make up your own, adding fun touches to make the game more appealing to your little ones.
Many toy companies have designed toys that incorporate car ride activities with their games as well. The License Plate Game, for example, requires children to find all the U.S. states’ license plates on the road and mark them on a magnetic board. Children become involved in the driving, aware of their surroundings, and even learn a little about U.S.A states and geography! Any toys which involve magnets make great travel toys because little pieces can’t get lost. The Magnetic USA Map is a great toy to pair with this game for a super fun lesson in geography.
Another great activity on the go requires everyone to get involved. Playing with your children as your driving is a great way to capture their attention before a whining fit begins. While a driver may not be able to play a game with a child, you can still play pretend together. For example, pretend your family is an old time pioneer family, moving out west. Talk to your child with a country twang in your voice and refer to yourself as “ma” or “pa.” Pretend you’re guiding an ox pulled covered wagon – not a car! Pick any theme appealing to your child. A pirate theme also works great. You can be the captain of the ship, sailing along the open road! Once you get your children into character suggest they play simple games (such as tic-tac-toe) but give the games new names applicable to the theme you’re following. For example, if you’re participating in pirate themed play, suggest “walk-the-plank-man” instead of hang-man. Just remember, the more creative you get, the more creative your children will be!
When all else fails, your best bet is playing with specially designed travel games. Sometimes, children will become bored with looking out their window at the roadway, especially if the journey is more than an hour. Games such as The Car Valet or Jumbo Color Doodle (all offered on Educational Toys Planet) involve compact, no mess activities children can enjoy in even the most cramped spaces. When giving your children activities for the journey, remember not to overwhelm them. Suggest a new idea every so often – not all at once. Another great idea is to keep different activities and toys wrapped up. When your children get bored with their current activity, present them with this brand new wrapped up “gift.” They will love opening up the new toys and exploring each activity.
Traveling with babies can also prove challenging. There are a few things to keep in mind that will make your trip go a lot smoother. First of all, make sure you have plenty of hand held toys for your baby. Most of traveling is done in smaller spaces, so keep the toys small and simple so your babies can entertain themselves. Be sure to check out some good ideas for baby travel toys. Many car seats or strollers also come with attachable interactive trays. These are great, just make sure the toys are soft and the tray can be removed to give your baby more room and comfort.
The final thing you must think about before setting off on a trip with your child is the possibility of car sickness. Many children suffer from nausea when traveling. You must always be prepared and ready to prevent. Some tips that help ease your child’s sickness are as follows:
• Replace reading (which often causes headaches) with listening to music or prerecorded stories
• Sit facing forward and always look towards the front of the car (not out of the side windows)
• Keep water, saltine crackers, and ginger snaps in the car for queasy stomachs
• Keep peppermints and ice packs in the car to cool down a sick child
Sometimes, you can’t avoid accidents caused by nausea. A good idea is to keep resealable containers handy. You may not always have a garbage can available, so it’s important to keep any unpleasant resulting smells away from your sick child.
Now, let’s pack up, buckle up, and set off on fun journeys everywhere! Combine all cool travel ideas and create your own unique trip full of smiles, learning, and wonderfully imaginative fun!