December 1, 2004

Travel Tips

I recently was asked about traveling with kids and some of the strategies I use. Here is my response for some things our family enjoys when we travel. Please add your own ideas in the comments section!

We have done a good bit of airplane travel with small ones as well as
cross country driving. I typically pack a small backpack for each
child that they can carry with little light things in it. The best
way I have found to keep things organized is individual ziploc bags
for each activity. Some favorites of little ones:

pipe cleaners to make into shapes or to string fruit loops on as a
necklace or bracelet and then to eat.

magnetic paper dolls (we've printed out from free online sites onto
magnetic paper)

wooden lacing toys (they sell flat ones that pack nicely into a bag
just one or two)

stickers and small pieces of paper

crayons and paper

piece of felt and then cut out felt shapes of a favorite story

I've also printed out a favorite story's characters such as brown
bear and then laminated them and used them to play a game with on the

a small assignment pad and colored pencils for older kids add a few
small stencils

small portable puzzle - you could print out a picture of where you are
going cut it into puzzle shapes and then laminate it. As long as it
will be able to be put together on an airplane food tray and fit in a
ziploc bag

modeling clay with very small cutters or stampers and a folded up
piece of paper to work on.

colorful flash cards that can easily be made into a game.

Basically any flat small items that can fit into a ziploc bag and do
not have a lot of pieces. The KEY is to put each individual activity
into its own bag so you only need to take one bag out at a time. It
is easy to find things and keep them organized this way.

Then I have my own Mary Poppins bag of tricks for when their interest
runs out I pull something out. Some things I include in that bag

blow up beach ball - for use at the airport parks and our final
destination. - they pack flat but blow up)

punching balloons (same concept as beach ball)

lots of snacks - I wrap these in wrapping paper - somehow even a box
of raisins becomes exciting when it is wrapped in wrapping paper and
labeled a treat. Also having a wide variety of snacks is good

bubbles - no joke I have blown bubbles waiting on lines even on the
airplane to keep little ones happy

books - this is a weakness of mine so I try very hard to pack just a
few of their favorites and one longer book

file folder games - velcro is key as is having an attached envelope
for all the little pieces. I go back and forth because these have a
lot of pieces to manage but my kids do enjoy them.

puppets - a few finger puppets and even two bigger hand puppets -
these can be used at just the right moment to prevent a breakdown as
the puppet gives instructions or plays with the kids - we use these on
airplanes and car rides. They also make nice toys to have at your

matchbox cars - just a few that fit in a ziploc bag - they can drive
them around everything but I keep them in my bag so I have more
control over them.

I keep my bag as organized as possible and use ziploc bags. I always
bring some extra bags in case we pick up another activity or want to
collect something from our destination (which we can then label).

Two other things we do on long car rides are to stop at the welcome
centers for each state, often they have a lot of free give aways such
as magazines, maps, coloring sheets, fact sheets and the like.

The other activity is to have some big gallon size ziploc bags and a
marker for writing. When we stop at a rest stop with a park or
sometimes we just drive to a park in different areas. We write the
name of the child,l ocation, state and date on the outside of the bag
and then let the kids collect different leaves, acorns, etc from the
area. If we can use field guides to identify them we will otherwise
we can do that later. We even did this in downtown Indianapolis a few
months ago and got many interesting items. The kids really enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:44 PM

    I travel a lot with my son, and what works best for us is to stop by the thrift store and buy a bag full of little toys (usually contains balls and cars, etc). This usually costs about $2-3. You get a whole lot of little toys for a little price, and he spends the whole trip exploring the bag.