Chances are, if you have young kids, you’re planning some sort of car or air travel this summer. Are you are dreading it?
When my kids were young, I would take them to Michigan to see my parents every year after school was over – 3 kids, by myself! I learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t work along the way.
Here are some of the things that work well on airplanes:
- Model Magic clay is great to bring; it doesn’t smell and doesn’t crumble and provides engaging sensory stimulation.
- Silly Putty is also really fun; also doesn’t smell and doesn’t crumble. It can be smooshed onto newspaper text, photos or cartoons. It picks up the image and then kids can stretch it and distort the image. If you aren’t familiar with it, it sounds kind of weird, but really is fun and might be unique.
- Pipe Cleaners are also awesome! They can be bent and formed into all sorts of things from figures to bracelets.
- If you have tablets, obviously downloading movies ahead of time is fun, but don’t forget about new apps, and audiobooks. Audiobooks allow kids to close their eyes and use their imaginations.
- Pack lots of different snacks in small bags or containers so you can bring them out one by one as something new.
- If you have any friends who have children around the same age(s), consider doing a toy swap so that you can pull “new” toys out of your bag as kids get bored, without spending any money!
- If you are traveling by air, purchase seats for all of the children if you can. It is much easier to get a toddler to stay in her seat if she has her car seat since she’s used to it in the car.
- Bring a puppet! If you talk to children through a puppet, it is easier to get and keep their attention.
- Don’t overlook the power of just listening to music in headphones.
- Our Zen Drawing Box can provide fun for the whole family on the plane. The markers, marker pad, and ruler tuck neatly into a carry on and can provide hours of fun. Leave the actual cardboard box and probably the cocktail napkins at home to use at a later date!
- Lastly, don’t forget about yourself! A calm parent is a good parent right? So, pack an extra shirt in your carry on in case of spills. You might even want to bring a sippy cup for yourself if you are going to have a glass of wine or beer……just sayin’
What doesn’t work well on airplanes:
- Puzzles, Legos and any other toys with small detachable pieces that can fall off tray tables! I learned this one the hard way!
- Anything that is messy and can spill. It is tempting to bring a little watercolor set but in my experience, you are totally tempting fate to do this!
- Anything that makes noise out loud – if they can wear headphones to hear the noise, that’s fine, or if you can turn the sound off, but some games and toys make noise and you can’t silence them.
- Anything that is super heavy and/or bulky to tote around. Remember that you will all get tired and the lighter your bags and their backpacks are – the better.
What works well on car trips (All of the tips listed above for air travel work well in cars too, plus here are some other fun ideas):
- Give each child a metal cake pan with a sliding lid. Stock it with all sorts of drawing materials inside as well as magnetic letters and other types of magnates. Putting the contents of our Try It Texture Box inside works really well in the car and also when you get to your destination! You can tell them it’s their special car travel kit! Then it also acts as a sturdy lap desk for drawing and writing and as a canvas to arrange magnets on.
- Purchase several inexpensive paper games such as car trip bingo, road trip spy hunt, Mad Libs, etc.
- Brain Quest Decks (available lots of places from Workman Publishing) for each child’s age/grade level are small and provide lots of fun & learning. I am not promoting these for money, we just used them so much when my kids were younger that I like passing on the advice.
- Listen to an audio book together. It can sometimes be challenging to find a book that everyone will listen to, but if you can, the shared experience is worth it!
- Our Try It Texture Box is a great thing to take on car trips – you can leave the contents in the box or transfer them to the cake pan or a backpack.
Wherever your summer travels take you, we wish you well!