Around the House: Keep Kids Entertained While Traveling This Summer
By Yehudit Garmaise
While adults might want to rest or read while traveling, most kids require thoughtful preparation in advance to keep them busy while on the road.
Instead of throwing the same old crayons, colored pencils, and books into a bag for a flight or a road trip, even very inexpensive new toys and art supplies can create an exciting sense of newness as you pack for the adventure.
Before your flight or trip, head to a Dollar Tree or a similar variety-type store and let each child pick out several new things to do, such as different ways to color, write, and play. Not long after you set out on your trip, you will be grateful everyone has new versions of a book, a sticker book, notebooks, pens, and a few little toys.
After emptying and washing out their backpacks from school, let the children pack their own backpacks in which you can also put their lunches and snacks.
If kids have the motor skills, you can bring pieces of string for Froot Loops or Fruity Cheerios to make necklaces from and which they can then munch on while traveling.
For kids who usually sleep with stuffed animals, which can take up a lot of space in suitcases, Brochy L. recalls how she and her sisters picked out special small stuffed animals called “travel animals” that were only used for trips.
Her sister Bluma remembers loving to write stories with her sisters while traveling, people-watching, and drawing the scenery they saw.
For car trips, families can ask everyone to contribute their favorite songs from various CD's, and everyone guesses who chose each song as it starts to play.
Before heading out, mommies can print out the tefilla haderech and a perek of Tehillim and paste them on both sides of index cards for kids to decorate and tuck into their backpacks to refer to when they might be scared, like during takeoff or landing.
Little ones can play games in the car, such as counting how many red trucks, police cars, or cement mixers they see, or “the license plate game,” in which everyone in the car tries to spot license plates from all 50 states, as one child records each state on a pad of paper.
If you have time in advance: make up cards of Road Trip Bingo for a fun activity. Just divide index cards into 25 squares, like for Bingo, but instead of letters and numbers, write in things you will see on the road, such as a bridge, an airplane, gas station, a yellow car, a bookstore, a lawn sprinkler, a flower garden, white dog, and so on.
To make the license plate game competitive, each person gets a pad of paper and a pen and has a limited amount of time, like one hour, to record the most states represented by license plates. The traveler to spot the most state’s license plates wins a prize.
Kids can also spot and write down objects that start with every letter in the alphabet: starting from A and going to Z.
If kids like to draw, they can take turns drawing with markers or colored pencils the object for each letter, such as “mailbox,” or “lamppost.”
Pads of paper and pens can also be used to play hangman and tic-tac-toe to supplement kids’ mazes, word searches, and trivia games that can be bought on Amazon.
Travel versions of Scrabble, Bingo, Uno, and other games are available.
Families can use their imaginations together to spot a driver or a person and take turns spinning a story about where the person is going and why.
Keep your baby entertained by hanging a baby-safe mirror on the back of your seat so your baby can watch what is happening in the mirror and make faces at him or herself.
Frimie K. said when her son was a toddler, he loved to play with spinning toys with suction cups that can be put not only on car or airplane windows but in bathtubs, as well.
No matter what you pack for your little ones to do, make sure to pack enough food for everyone. In addition, make sure to pack a few fun food surprises to pull out in “emergencies.”
An unexpected snack bag can help to smooth the inevitable frustrations of travel for kids.
For parents, the best thing you can do to help keep your kids calm is to model polite and patient behavior and keep your sense of humor. When flights are delayed or canceled, and luggage gets lost, stay calm.
“The fun, the thrills, the inconveniences, and the frustrations are all a part of travel,” Shlomo Berger always told his children. “We have to take it all in stride with a smile.”
What do your kids like to do while you are traveling? Let us know at [email protected].