10 Surefire Ways to Entertain Kids When Traveling

Whether it is planed, trains or automobiles, the thought of a long journey with kids fills most parents with a sense of dread. And if your kids are of widely differing ages, this compounds the problem. So, if you’re faced with a long journey this holiday season, these ten tips might save your sanity!

1. Time your journey carefully

If possible, time your journey for when the kids are asleep—you can do this in two ways. Firstly, you can wait until mid-evening and put the kids in their nightclothes before travelling. A warm blanket will protect against the chill, and you could also pack a small pillow. Alternatively, dig them out of bed in the early hours, and hopefully, they’ll doze off again en route (ensuring they sleep for at least some of the journey).

2. Pack some snacks

Kids are perpetually hungry when travelling, so make snack packs filled with lots of healthy nibbles that take time to eat and won’t give them a raging thirst or a sugar high. The list is endless: dried fruit, low-salt snacks, nuts, cereal bars, sugar-free cookies, and cold meat. Make all food suitable for tiny fingers, and don’t forget a drink—juice or plain water is preferable to a sugary cordial or fizzy soda.

3. Individual entertainment packs

Plan individualized entertainment packs for each child. Buy cheap puzzle books or colouring books in the sales, as well as coloured pencils and pens. Take their interests into account— a Frozen-themed puzzle pack will interest one child, whilst another might prefer a dinosaur theme. Plain drawing paper is handy, as well as stickers, self-inking stamps, and other art accessories. Even a two-year-old can tote a small backpack, so make each child responsible for their entertainment bag.

4. Magnetic boards

These are great for using magnetic letters, numbers and fridge magnets. Have the kids practice spelling words or solving math problems. The boards can also provide a firm surface for other activities, like drawing.

5. Electronic devices

You may be lucky enough for each child to have an iPad, so they can watch movies or play games as they travel. If you’ve only one, then agree on a rota, so they each have a fair turn. In addition, don’t forget audio devices. Download music onto a phone or MP3 player so they can listen individually rather than arguing about different musical tastes.

6. Music

If you’ve got a central music system (e.g. on a car journey), plan and create some playlists that everyone (except your cool 14-year-old!) will enjoy. Movie soundtracks, sing-along albums, and even old favourite songs are always good choices and will help pass the time. Some kids may enjoy light classical music too.

7. Audiobooks and stories

Audiobooks are a great way for kids to access books they maybe couldn’t read for themselves, although on a long journey, they’ll love hearing familiar stories too. Alternatively, why not record yourself reading your favourite books to them? You could put the originals in their packs with picture books, allowing them to read along.

8. Photo Diary

If your kids can use a camera, encourage them to take photos as you travel so they can compile them into a travel diary afterwards. It will help make the journey memorable and could also extend to the rest of your visit.

9. Pencil and paper games

Even the most exciting story or lively music can wear thin after a while, so it helps to have a few paper and pencil games ready. Childhood staples like Tic-tac-toe, Hangman, Boxes and Battleships are easy to learn and can be played on small scraps of paper. You could also have a sketching competition—who can draw the funniest rabbit or the cutest kitten?

10. Verbal games

Lastly, verbal games don’t need any equipment and can be adapted for different age groups. And who has never played “I Spy’” when trying to occupy kids? Adapt this for younger kids by focusing on colours (e.g. something green). 20 Questions are also a firm favourite, or play the “never-ending story” game in which each person has a minute to add to an invented story. Older kids may enjoy ‘” Just a Minute”, too, which requires them to talk about a given subject for a full minute (without stopping).

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