Traveling with your kids can be a fun and rewarding experience, but more often than not boredom sets in and you find yourself frantically looking for ways to entertain your little ones on the journey. Fortunately there are countless ways to keep those input-hungry kids occupied, from dedicated travel games and puzzles to observational games you can play along with them.
In this article, the team at Kiddit share our favorite activities and games that are guaranteed to make that trip fly by for everyone.
Choosing Appropriate Activities And Games
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to consider the means of travel and age of your kids when deciding on the games, puzzles and activities you choose. If you’re in your own vehicle you can be a little bolder when it comes to noisy toys, but leave those in the car if you’re hitting public transport or flying!
It’s also good sense to bring as large a selection as you can comfortably manage because there’s one thing you can guarantee – your little ones will soon get bored of whatever you bring if they don’t have plenty of new stimulation!
A decent selection of wax crayons and non-toxic washable coloring pens, alongside some coloring books and notepads, could potentially occupy your kids for hours. You can make up little travel kits using zip-up plastic bags that are usually sold for toiletries – one for each of your children so that there are no fights over the goodies!
Mini whiteboards and dry erase markers are another excellent (and clean!) addition to your arsenal for a long journey. As with all the activities we’re going to recommend, encouraging your children to draw, color or paint as often as possible has far-reaching developmental benefits – boosting creativity, improving motor skills, and enhancing memory and cognition amongst others.
You might think of books as a useful addition for older kids, but if you choose wisely they can keep even the youngest of babies occupied. Choose interactive soft feel activity books that are rich in sensory stimuli for the really little ones, all the way up to reading-age appropriate books for your older kids.
We like to include pop-up books for children who haven’t yet mastered reading without an adult present because they tend to engage their interest and encourage longer interaction time with the material. Sticker activity books are also another great idea.
Puzzles are popular with kids of all ages, but try to avoid ones with lots of small pieces that could be lost behind seats or on the floor because your children will soon become frustrated. If you’re traveling together on public transport, take a small game tray to contain the puzzles so you can work on them together – a great bonding exercise that your children will love.
A small 3D puzzle can also be a great idea for older children, as they are challenging, fun and take up a much smaller surface area.
While you’ll probably want to limit screen time for your little ones, we still recommend taking electronic handheld toys that have an educational element. Companies like V-Tech and LeapFrog produce excellent children’s tablets, laptops and handheld games where your kids can practice their numbers, letters, shapes and sounds, along with playing musical and educational games. These are better for trips made in your own vehicle because they can become a little invasive for other passengers.
For older children you can download age-appropriate educational games onto a regular tablet – but try to limit game-time on these devices and instead involve them in the kind of games we’re going to suggest next…
Fun Verbal And Visual Games
Dedicated activities and games are an excellent way to occupy your kids, but being together in a confined space for a period of time is also a great opportunity to have some fun.
Here are some cool verbal and visual games that will challenge the whole family you can introduce to your children:
- I Went To Market – The idea of this simple memory game is to begin by saying, for example, “I went to market and bought some ham…” The next person repeats exactly the same thing, but adds their own item to the list, followed by the next person, until the list is so long that one of you forgets something. Every time somebody messes up the list they drop out; the winner is the last person left.
- I Spy – This classic party game translates brilliantly to a travel situation. In case anyone out there doesn’t know how to play, you begin with “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with D…” The rest of the players then ask ‘yes, no’ questions to try and determine what you are. It’s a great game for teaching your kids how to associate letters and words with objects in their world.
- Who/What Am I? – This is another classic party game that works for any kind of travel situation. One player picks a person, animal or object and the other players have to ask questions to figure out the answer. It’s lots of fun for kids if the adults are prepared to ask silly questions that are obviously wrong – this is also a great way to encourage lateral and creative thinking in your children.
- Car Bingo – This one requires a little planning! On sheets of white card draw bingo boards with lots of different colored squares on them. Your kids then have to mark off the squares on the boards when they see a car with the corresponding color. It’s a fun way to keep them occupied, challenge their observational skills, and introduce a little friendly competition.
- Fortunately/Unfortunately – This game is a fun way to encourage creative and positive thinking – and works surprisingly well for many age groups. You begin by saying something like “Unfortunately, there’s a monkey sitting on my head” and someone else would say, “Fortunately, it’s keeping the rain off!” This works great with even quite young children and is lots of fun for the adults too.
As you can see, there are countless games and activities you can employ to keep your kids busy, happy and learning while you travel. There’s no reason at all why you can’t turn a family road trip into an enjoyable experience and teach your little ones that the journey is as important as the destination – here at Kiddit, we even played some of these games in the office while we were researching this article!