How to Keep Kids Entertained While Traveling

Keeping Kids Entertained

  • A few toys are always great (you dont have to take them all. You will be surprised how many things they are entertained with at their new destination.
  • Books
  • Coloring books/crayons (I do not recommend felt pens)
  • Stickers
  • Play-doh (great on the plane)
  • Magnet board & magnets, Magnadoodle, Etch-a-Sketch
  • A few legos
  • Box of fun band aids great for 18 month old – 3 year old. The process of unwrapping and applying to self will keep child absorbed.
  • Wrap a few small gifts to be distributed throughout the day. It gives them something to look forward to when the boredom sets in. I pick them up at the 99cent store!
  • Fun snacks
  • Electronics: Portable DVD players are wonderful-they are small & easy to travel with (car adapters & extra batteries available). They keep even young children entertained if you bring the right videos. You are also not depending on the airline choices for long trips. For older kids, Gameboys provide hours of entertainment.
  • For older kids: (idea in a magazine) Give each of the kids a roll of quarters. Every time they misbehave, take 1 quarter from the person(s) responsible. Once you reach your destination, the child can spend the money they have left on whatever they choose.

Plane Travel

Although children under 2 are not required to have their own seat, it can make your trip easier. By purchasing a ticket for your baby, you can take a carseat which they are more apt to sleep in. Some airlines will take 50% off for a child under 2.

Strollers can be a big help both in the airport and at your destination. You can usually gate check your stroller prior to getting on the plane.

Pack plenty of snacks for your child. Airlines do not always have a lot of choices.

Pack extra formula and diapers in case you are delayed.Bring an extra set of clothes as well.

Some airports have play areas for kids – this is a great way to burn off energy before you get on the flight.

–Submitted by Danielle Roberts
I have travelled 3 times to Europe with my daughter (now 3)and have the following suggestions for airplane travel with young kids:

*If you travel across many time zones, try to get a head start by adjusting an hour every day for a few days before you leave and the jet lag will not be quite as bad

*Bring different colored sticky pads – the kids can write, color on them, then stick them all over their seats, etc. and they are extremelyeasy to clean up – no mess!

When you book the seats for 2 people, always book the window seat and the aisle seat in a 3 seat row. Most people dont want the middle seatand so you have a good chance it will stay empty and you end up with 3 seats for the 2 of you (this works also for the middle row). If the plane is completely booked, the person sitting in the middle between you and your child will gladly change to either a window or aisle seat.

*Bring cards with animals, etc. for kids around 2 years old – they love to look at the pictures and you can imitate the sounds the animals make tokeep them entertained.

*There are homeopathic lozenges called “”No Jetlag”” available (sometimes) at Trader Joes and they work great on kids as well.

Car Travel

It helps to leave at night when kids will sleep or during naptimes.

DVD players are a lifesaver in the car.

Stop every couple hours for a bathroom break, stretch and a snack. It is great if there is space to have them run around. You can make it a game by having mini races.

There are great travel books for kids with fun ideas and family games you can do on the road.

Sing songs, make up stories, play 20 questions or I Spy.

*See the Helpful Links page for some great sites for travel.

Discovery Toys on the Go

–submitted by Carolee Peterson, DT Representative
Need something fun and entertaining for the car? Try one of these great Discovery Toys:

Voice Vibes Voice Changing kit (experiment with your voice and sounds)

Sounds Like Fun Cd or tape (introduces letters, letter sounds, counting, manners and more)

Power View Binoculars (watch the sites go by!)

Undersea Adventure Mazes (book of beautiful and creative mazes)

Amazing Puzzles for Clever Kids (activity book)

Favorite parent travel tips

–Ideas have been submitted by local parents…

Equipment: If possible, borrow (or rent) as much equipment as possible. It makes traveling a breeze!

Timing: Give yourself more than enough time to get where you are going so you can stop along the way and spend time with your children. Relax and enjoy the one-on-one time with your kids.

It goes so much smoother if you can stop and play along the way. The journey is part of the experience too – it’s not just the destination. Figure out places to stop and play – parks or playgrounds, so kids can run around and burn energy.

Make sure children get plenty of sleep prior to leaving for the trip, particularly when you are changing time zones.Travel at night or at nap time when going by car.

Airplanes: Always board the plane last with the little ones after your spouse has gone ahead with your carry on and got your seats settled. You want to spend as little time on the aircraft before it’s underway as possible.

When traveling by plane make friends with other kids. Kids are curious about other kids and this is often great entertainment. They can play games and share new toys.

Entertainment: Bring surprises. New simple things they hasn’t seen before. Wrap a new toy for every 3 hours of flight. It kept them excited with something new as well as motivated to behave on the journey.

Plane, train or automobiles, never leave home without a vast collection of their personal music & headphones. Investing a little money in a portable DVD is money well spent! (DVD’s are a lifesaver when you get delayed between flights.)

Verbal games work best with my kids. Don’t give up planning dozens of verbal games for travel time, even after they’re teens, for instance expanding Twenty Questions to geographical locations and historical characters related to your vacation will challenge everyone and eliminate car-sickness, arguments over crayon colors, and lost game pieces…

Blowing bubbles with Bubble Yum is a fun way to pass the time, it kept the ears popping instead of aching (for altitude). (Only rule is that if the gum comes out of the mouth, it goes into a tissue and straight into the trash!)

Quiz each other with questions from “”Brain Quest”” cards.

Bring lots of travel activities a child can do on their lap. We love mini Etch-a-Sketch, deck of cards, small pencil case filled with crayons, stickers, scissor, tape and a stack of card stock. They can make “”postcards”” on the way and then address and send them when you get to your destination.

About the author

The Parent Connection is a non-profit parenting support group sponsored by Scripps Health. Since 1980, The Parent Connection has been bringing San Diego families together to provide support, share experiences and information, enjoy social activities and build lasting relationships. Parent Connection annual special events are a great way to socialize with other members. And our membership benefits include group discounts to California theme parks and attractions, which more than cover the cost of annual membership. Join now!

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