Kids On The Go!
To keep the little (or big) ones entertained for trips like grocery shopping, eating out or even road trips try this:
Get a bag such as a backpack, roomy purse, satchel, diaper bag, etc (wide opening, closure and pockets or compartments recommended).
Fill with (and remember to think COMPACT) the following:
For the road trips, a great idea I came across was to print out a map of the trip route and laminate the map (clear contact paper works great). You then help the child keep a record of where he’s been, where he’s going, such as coloring in or making a list of the towns/states/countries. Teach capitals along the way, too. Also useful, an almanac can provide information regarding state trees, mottos, flags, birds, commodities, etc.
Store bought travel games (even the 5 in 1 scroller listed above) can be bulky and use up valuable space. If space isn’t an issue, though, travel games can be great to include the whole cooped-up crew.
Also, I recently decided to learn to sew and came across “cheater panels” to help me begin. Especially perfect for travel were some “Kidz On The Go” panels (sewn prior to travelling) that included (separately) a cloth “portable fun pack” multi-pocket tote, cloth “my checkers” game with pieces, cloth “3 in a row” tic-tac-toe with pieces, cloth “50 nifty states” game with pieces, and cloth “road signs” travel bingo with pieces. These same ideas can also be fabricated from paper, cardboard, felt, plastic or cloth with no sewing.
Additionally, a pillow desk can act as a stiff work surface or nap buddy
Here’s an idea for the Dry Erase Board or Magnets Board – use a cookie sheet or cheap metal tray. Cover with white or black contact paper. If desired, use permanent marker to draw a scene such as a race track, homemade gameboard or writing lines, or a house. Use adhesive magnets (dots, squares or roll cut to size) to adhere to dry erase markers or eraser (so they store on your new board), or shapes such as foam or felt to create pictures or make playing pieces.
For fun and excitement, “wrap” a new or forgotten toy for every 50 or so miles. New doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or store bought, could just be new to your child (ie garage sale, homemade or sibling swap).
I highly recommend the dollar stores, thrift stores, garage sales, discount outlets etc. to find the off-brand and cheap items that will equally entertain.
Check the party aisles or a party store for small, inexpensive & interesting doodads and knick knacks.
Remember not to leave your travel bags in the heat for any length of time, as crayons quickly turn to wax blobs and pens/markers tend to dry out quicker.
When purchasing anything for travel, remember small, travel or pocket size, the overall messiness factor & safety!
Things to avoid:
Anything in the above list that you know your child will use as a projectile in the vehicle or in public
Scissors (unless they’re the round tip, plastic, safety scissors)
Toys that are fragile or have irreplaceable tiny pieces
Noisy toys with no earphones or volume control
Markers unless age appropriate or that don’t show up on your little darling’s clothes or your back seat!
Glue (even stick glue can become messy)
Paint or nail polish
Things made of glass (“Uh-oh” can quickly turn to “Does blood stain?”)
Rubber bands (zinging Mommy in the back of the head while she’s driving is not funny)
Paper clips unless age appropriate
Straight or safety pins (even safety pins can prick when the user is jostled from a pothole or the like)
Video games (I personally am a junkie, but I would rather my child find entertainment in the “old school” stuff)
Music cd’s/tapes (not unacceptable, but tends to isolate instead of promoting interaction)
Balloons (very loud when popped & pieces can be swallowed)
Interactive pets/keychain pets (Furby’s prattle in a confined area can be quite annoying after any length of time)
Ink pads for stamping (unless they’re the kind that works only on special paper)
Water games (the small & cheap ones tend to leak)
I ended up with 4 complete bags (I used free promotional canvas bags & free hospital diaper/baby bags) overflowing with mostly free, homemade or cheap stuff. We keep one activity bag in each of our 2 vehicles, then keep the other two to swap out for variety. Remember that one/each bag does not need to contain EVERYTHING! ;)
For the activity sheets here is a great link for making your own:
This is a print your own travel book:
Here’s a page for printing out songs, learning lessons, crafts, etc.
A few links around mid-page for printouts and game ideas:
For some great ideas and printouts check this website out!
If you want something quick and already put together try these two books. We have both of the them. I think they are WONDERFUL for travel (very interactive & contains “stuff”):
The first four books are from Klutz Press:
The Amazing Booka-Ma-Thing for the Backseat (I like it, very interesting, but it’s a bit short in the “things to do” department)
Kids Travel: A Backseat Survival Kit (very good with a TON of activities and pouch of “stuff”)
The Only Coloring, Puzzle, Game, Dot-To-Dot Activity Book You’ll Ever Need! (MANY pages to color and do things)
Glove Compartment Games (about the size of a laminated map. Interesting, but only for a quick fix, not a long time killer)
The Everything Kids Travel Activity Book by Adams Media (interesting but not memorable)
52 Travel Activity Kit by Chronicle Books
Rubberneckers: Everyone's Favorite Travel Game by Chronicle Books
Rubberneckers Jr by Chronicle Books
TravelMates: Fun Games Kids Can Play in the Car or on the Go – No Materials Needed by Crown Publishing Group
Are We There Yet? Travel Games For Kids by Crown Publishing Group
Miles of Smiles: 101 Great Car Games & Activities by Carousel Press
Magnetic Travel Fun by Planet Dexter (includes bingo, checkers, chess, Chinese checkers, fanarona, mancala, go/reversi, nine men’s morris, solitaire, tic tac toe 3D, and plenty of brain teasers – great book, but weak magnet playing pieces)
Magnetic Games on the Move by ? (only 7 games)
I also really like:
Travel Games & Activities Funtastic Kits by Publications International, Ltd. (fun & includes a pouch full of stuff)
For sightseeing or camping/hiking trips, you may want to bring along some books on identifying things like birds, bugs, plants, animals, etc. The vast information in these types of books can keep a mind occupied for some time.
**Quick word on a personal family favorite game of ours is “Clouds” – Everyone looks out the windows and names a shape that he sees in the clouds. Others in the vehicle try to see the same object while searching for their own “vision”. There is no winner, it’s extremely cheap (unless the driver forgets to watch the road), & everyone seems to find at least an ounce of creativity in those fluffy sky pillows.**
Here are some great snack ideas for traveling:
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