Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Post: 4 Ways to Keep Kids Occupied During Travel by Bonnie Carter

If you are planning a trip with your family, traveling with children can either fun be and relaxing or just plain stressful. Whether you are traveling by vehicle, train, or by airplane, children can get really bored and restless in a short amount of time. This is partly due to the anticipation of arriving to your destination, and to a certain extent confined to a limited area. On the one hand, teenagers usually hold their own. As long as they have their iPod or cell phone, they will rock to their music and text to their heart's content. It's the younger children that give you a challenge. Just like you planned your trip, when you are traveling with kids, you also have to plan how to keep them occupied and happy. The following suggestions may work for your family, or even give you a few ideas to get your own creative juices flowing.

1. Travel Games

Magnetic travel games are perfect, because the pieces stick to the board. They are inexpensive and available in age-appropriate categories. Hand-held electronic games and travel-size board games also keep kids busy. If your children don't own an electronic hand-held game, companies such as Oriental Trading, Amazon, and Walmart even carry cheap, hand-held games specifically made for travel. Although travel games are geared more for pre-school and above, babies can be entertained by musical toys, magnetic blocks, shiny, colorful, multi-shaped toys, and plastic baby mirrors. Toddlers can play with stuffed animals, shapes that fit into other shapes, push button toys that speak and light up!

2. Activity Pads

Activity pads can be found at your local dollar store. Not only do they help to entertain your child, many are filled with fun, educational exercises that also facilitate learning. Amazon offers what they call 'a back-seat survival kit'. It's filled with everything imaginable to engage in, create and have fun. Little ones aren't old enough for activity pads, but board books and coloring sheets will work just as well. You can get free coloring and educational worksheets on the web for pre-schoolers through middle schoolers. Just search for 'free coloring pages for kids', or 'free worksheets for kids'.

3. License Plate Game

This is a game the whole family can play. Even the non-readers can identify differently colored license plates, just have someone else record it. The object is to find as many different license plates as you can. This game can be played on one trip, or you could keep it going all summer, whenever you travel together as a family. With the magic of cell phone video and picture capture, pictures of different license plates would be really cool for a family website!

4. Travel Journal

A travel journal is a rewarding activity that children from pre-school through high school can participate in. All each child needs is a spiral notebook, crayons, markers, or pens. It's up to the child to record what they saw, liked or didn't like. This can be done with drawing, words, pictures, or whatever they want. Parents can help kids who can't write by writing headings or captions, and letting the little guys choose how to fill in the details. Brochures, napkins, souvenirs and receipts are excellent additions to any travel journal.

All it takes to have a successful road trip with kids is a little planning, and knowing what your kids like to do. Activities are great, but by all means, don't forget to pack some snacks and drinks too. Travel coolers and backpacks should be on the top of your list. Have fun and enjoy!

About the Author:
Bonnie Carter likes to write, travel and visit

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