Whether by plane, train, or automobile, traveling with kids who are too young to entertain themselves is a challenge. Here’s how to rise to the occasion.
Step 1: Give each child a carryall Before the trip, give each child a backpack, tote bag, or plastic box to pack whatever games, toys, and books they want to bring along. If you’re flying, make sure everything meets airline standards.
TIP: If you travel a lot, put aside some special items that are just for trips. They’ll be more appealing than stuff your kids have access to all the time.
Step 2: Include travel-friendly items Make sure to include plenty of travel-friendly items like crayons, paper, and coloring books; hand-held and magnetic games for older kids; and drawing and doodling toys.
Step 3: Hit the dollar store Hit the dollar store for some cheap toys you can dole out as needed. Wrap each surprise item to make it more exciting for your child.
Step 4: Bring a DVD player Consider buying or borrowing a portable DVD player, even if your car is equipped with one. (You’ll be able to use it on trains and planes and in hotel rooms, too.) Try to get one that has more than one jack for headphones, or get an inexpensive headphone splitter.
TIP: If you have an MP3 player that plays videos, consider downloading a kid movie or two—for unforeseen emergencies.
Step 5: Borrow books on tape Borrow some children’s books on tape from the library.
Step 6: Bring music Bring plenty of CDs if you’re driving—especially stuff the kids like to sing along to.
Step 7: Pack snacks Pack fun snacks and beverages. Mix several varieties of cereal together; make 'sushi' out of Rice Krispy treats wrapped in fruit rolls; make trail mix with your kids’ favorite dried fruits and nuts. The food should be safe—nothing that could spoil or pose a choking hazard—and not too messy.
TIP: According to one survey, kids’ favorite car snacks are gum, lollipops, cookies, and chips, in that order.
Step 8: Take breaks Take breaks. Often. At least every two hours. Look for playgrounds or rest stops with room for kids to run, jump rope, and throw a ball.
TIP: Cure the 'are-we-there-yets?' by giving older kids a map with the route highlighted. Ask them to help navigate or challenge them to figure out how many miles to the next town.
Step 9: Play car games If you’re driving, play car games, like License Plate Bingo or 'I See.' Start a made-up story and have each child continue it. Basically, do whatever it takes to keep your little backseat drivers occupied until you truly are 'there yet.'
FACT: Michigan was the first state to have roadside picnic tables.
You Will Need
or plastic box for each child
Books and small toys the children havenu2019t seen before