How To Keep Kids Busy During Holiday Travel

Friday, November 20, 2015

Do you have a long road trip coming up for the holidays?  Planning to spend some time on an airplane?  This is the time of year when most people will have some sort of traveling to do to visit family and friends from out of town.  While it's a fun and exciting time, it may also invoke feelings of panic in parents with younger children.

I've taken many trips with my son- since he was 2 months old all the way through now- he'll turn 6 in January.  Come to find out, for us, the early baby stage was the easiest because he just slept on the planes or was happy looking out the window (be sure to get a window seat).  For car rides, even still today, if we have a long road trip ahead of us, we usually prefer to leave at his bedtime and drive through the night.  It makes the whole trip a lot easier and peaceful on everyone.

Now that he's getting older, we've found some other ways to keep the sanity on our road trips that need to happen during daylight hours.  I'll share some things that have worked for us:

License Plate Game and other travel games-  The one we bought my son comes with stickers to put on the map whenever you find a new state.  If your child cannot pull the stickers off themselves- save yourself the sanity and either get a book that doesn't do stickers, or do what I did and let them put an "X" across the sticker or state on the map when they find it.  We got this one that we thought was pretty good.  You could also bring travel Bingo and I-Spy games.  Why not make up your own before you leave for the trip?  There are many sites that give you ideas on what to use for your own travel bingo games.

Mad Libs- Who doesn't remember playing this game as kids?  I don't know about you, but I could play it for hours.  Even if your kids are younger (like my son) and haven't really learned what a noun, verb, etc can always give them suggestions.  Like: noun: "Okay, give me the name of someone we know, a place we've been to or want to go, etc".  Verb: "Tell me something you do to get somewhere, like: run, walk, drive, skip, etc.  You get the idea.


Have surprise snacks that you give out every couple of hours (or some other interval of time) during the road trip.  Have them pre-packaged and ready to go in zip lock bags.  Snacks such as gold fish, teddy grahams, pretzels, or other easy foods to help themselves to work great.  Hide them in your purse and bust them out when the kids get cranky.

Along the same lines- bring a wrapped cheap toy (being wrapped adds to the excitement and suspense and takes more time for the kids to open, lol) as your incentive for good behavior.   If you have a boy, Hot Wheels are perfect for this!  I don't know about you, but my kid LOVES them.  They are $1, and even though he has over 100 of these things, he always begs for more.  You can do the same thing with those little travel coloring books, tiny travel games, a new book, doll, etc.  Anything cheap, but new, that you can pull out to distract them during tougher moments.  These also work great on airplanes.  Kid getting a little antsy?  Whip out one of these bad boys and you're sure to calm them down and keep them happy.

Books- Bring your kids favorite books and maybe a new one or two that they haven't read yet.

Paper, crayons, pencils- Can't go wrong with a little arts and crafts to keep the kids entertained.  Tip: Pack an empty dvd case with paper and colored pencils to hold everything together.  The case also acts as a nice hard surface to write on.  A cookie sheet also works as a nice hard surface and the edges help keep crayons/pencils from rolling away.

Portable dvd player with kids favorite shows- These are a lifesaver on airplanes or road trips (trains, buses, you name it!).  Don't forget the charger!  Laptops and Ipads filled with educational games or shows that your kids love work just as well.

Maps and activity books- No more "when are we going to get there"!  (ok, well, maybe still a little of that).  The kids can draw along the map and follow the route to where you're headed.  Or,  they have these really fun books with games, puzzles, facts and fun information about each state, and other cool things to keep the kids entertained and excited about where they're going.  National Geographic makes a great one for kids.  This is the one I got for my son for our road trip:


String and beads or jewelry kits- for older children (5-10) to make bracelets/necklaces to pass the time.  They should stay focused and occupied for a good while with these sorts of activities.


Paper Bag Puppets
- Remember making these as a kid?  Just get some of those brown paper bags that we used to put our lunches in back in the day and some crayons and let the kids go to town.  They will have fun coloring and making the faces....and playing with them after!

Hopefully some of these ideas will help make your trip a little smoother.  Do you have any ideas to keep your kids busy on the road?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!  I'm always looking for new ideas for this!

Have you heard of Little Passports??  Another great way to get your kids learning about the world around them and would be great to bring on the road!

*Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from them, the company may provide me a small commission AT NO EXPENSE TO YOU.  Thank you for supporting the blog in this way.*

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