Keeping kids entertained while traveling is exhausting. The teens withdraw into their tunes and brooding sci-fi novels. Babies have been known to throw a family weekend trip off-track forcing a U-turn back home for a ‘staycation’ instead of an ‘awaycation’! And I don’t know about yours, but my middle child just wants to draw, write, create and generally make a HUGE mess in the back seat. What’s a family of 6 to do?
Carissa’s GoodNCrazy Travel Tips | Keep Kids Entertained (And Keep Mom Happy!)
1. Make ‘Em Wait for It
I’m serious, on every trip we ever take I make my kids do pretty much NOTHING for at least a half hour into the trip. We talk (I know shockers huh?) about the upcoming trip: what our plans are or why we are traveling there etc.. And later in the trip (maybe after stopping for lunch) we might have a ‘do nothing’ repeat half hour, to relax and regroup.
2. Bring along THEIR FAVORITE Toys
Is your kid’s favorite type of toy a real no-no for travel like a set of LEGOs or Polly Pockets or Littlest Pet Shop pieces? I know this sounds crazy, right? I mean, what if you lose them? What if they get dirty? Not a problem if you also bring along a travel activity mat like the patent pending Lay-n-Go LITE. It’s a cinch… literally! It’s washable and perfectly sized to fit on airplane tray tables or on their lap half cinched up in the car. Once they are finished playing simply cinch up the bag and the pieces won’t get lost. You can transport their favorite small toys into a restaurant with you, into your vacation destination or even to the beach!
3. Electronics, Electronics, Electronics!
I know it’s meant to be ‘family time’ during a long road trip and vacations away from the chaos of piano recitals and school, but we all need a break from each other too. And there’s nothing like a portable DVD to shut everyone up sometimes! We bring along separate headphones for all the gadgets, giving the driver some peace and quiet as well. Bonus Tip: don’t forget you can use electronics to get the whole family involved in road navigation or historical fun with travel mobile apps!
4. Give them Responsibility
Not unlike chores at home, assign car jobs (or airplane chores). One should be the ‘garbage master’ keeper of all things—trash in a sack near their seat; everyone passes papers and such to them. Assign an older kid to be the art supplies guru. She will dole out materials from a backpack filled with crayons, paper, markers, pencils etc.. And give an older child babysitting tasks to help keep a younger sibling entertained and happy. I happily ‘pay’ for these vacation chores in souvenirs at local shops once we land!
5. Hit the Library Before the Trip
Every kid in my family is thrilled with a pre-vacation library outing. My older kids are reading huge novels and my little boy is all about checking out science ‘project’ books. There’s also the option of free eBooks to download on a Kindle or other mobile device, check with your library to learn how!
6. Pre-wrapped Dollar Store ‘Gifts’
Every kid loves surprises (heck every MOM loves surprises!). If we have a 15 hour road trip ahead of us, I often purchase small dollar store treats and gadgets and full on wrap them and hand ‘em out over the long drive. We are often on our way to a condo-like vacay, and the surprises double as fun stuff to do while at the destination during down time.
Good luck on your upcoming long trips, may the mom-force be with you and the ‘Mom, She’s touching me!’ whines be few!