Vacations are a great way to spend quality time together as a family. Well, perhaps a little too much quality time when it comes to traveling with kids until you reach your destination! That was the case on a recent vacation we planned where we would be driving for 8 hours straight during one leg of the trip. I was dreading the never-ending chain of ‘Are we there yet?’ However, thanks to some clever ideas for the road, we only endured a few of these bouts.
How to Keep Kids Entertained When Traveling
If you are planning on traveling with kids in tow, here are a few ideas for keeping them occupied while riding in the car.
Play Games - Games are a great way to keep kids engaged and entertained. Teach your toddler how to play I-Spy. This is a simple game for kids to learn and helps them recognize colors. When I would run out of things in the car to guess the colors, we started with shapes.
Audio Books – Books and a moving vehicle don’t go too well hand in hand. I had an audio book on CD of The Magic School Bus that I took along on our trip and my daughter loved it. (Maybe a little too much, because she wanted to hear it over and over again) Audio books are a really great way to engage a child’s imagination because they hear the story but without the visualization of pictures in an actual book, the audio book stimulates creative thinking.
Nursery Rhymes - While audio books work really well for toddlers, babies are not as easy to entertain without visuals. We brought along a few of their favorite kid tunes CDs for the ride and we would act them out, such as Itsy Bitsy Spider. You don’t even need to buy CDs if you don’t have them. My husband and I would mix it up a little by thinking of childhood favorites we used to sing then sing them for the kids.
Toys - Keep a bag of a few different toys and a couple of new ones bought specifically for the trip with you. Young toddlers and especially babies can become overwhelmed if they are given too many things to play with at once, so pick (or let them choose) one toy to play with for a portion of the trip. I prefer to opt for the quieter ones that don’t make a million annoying sounds such as our Mrs. Potato head with a convenient storage compartment in her back that holds the accessories. When you stop for breaks, switch out the toy with a different one so they don’t become bored with the same toy the entire time.
Coloring Books - The car is actually a great place for kids to color because they are confined in their seats with few things besides the paper or coloring books for them to mark on. Our convertible car seat has a cup holder on the side so I brought a plastic cup from home to keep the crayons in so they were in reach without rolling away while she colored. I particularly like the Crayola Twistable Crayons because there’s no paper for her to peel off and make a mess with. If your child’s seat doesn’t have a cup holder that you can do this with Crayola also makes triangle-shaped crayons.
Portable DVD Player - This gadget can be your best friend during long trips accompanied with headphones to save the parents from having to listen to kid tunes for hours on end. We never had the need to buy one as we don’t take long trips too often so instead we brought along my daughter’s LeapPad Learning Tablet which has volume control or the option for headphones.
Even with these ideas, young children and babies can become restless after awhile of sitting in a car seat so be sure to stop frequently to take breaks. When we would stop at welcome centers or gas stations with brochures I would pick some up to give to our toddler to look at during the trip. I also kept them to use for scrapbooking. Keep these ideas in mind for your next vacation so everyone will be happy on the trip.