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Keeping kids busy on long trips

As the Canadian March Break  approaches, I am reminded of the countless hours of travel that my family has put in over the years. Planes, trains and automobiles with the sweet sounds of crying, whining and fighting siblings.  Many years ago when my children were small, we lived a four hour plane ride from our families.  

A friend of mine, who travelled to Europe every summer, gave me this great idea for long plane rides (works in the car too). For every hour on a trip, she packed each child a “present” to open. Each gift contained a toy, treat, or activity to pass the time. The kids were kept busy and had something to look forward to as well. 

I always started by having a special trip knapsack for each of my children. In it was a small pillow or blanket, special travelling stuffed animal and the usual kid friendly snack supply that the children could access themselves. Just before you are ready to leave, pack the presents and mark them 1, 2, 3 etc. for each hour of travel. Toddlers and young preschoolers with shorter attention spans will likely need something every 1/2 hour.

 I have compiled a list for trips that can be used to make the presents or the items can just be kept on-hand during the trip. Here is my list:

  • small packs of crayons or markers (I tape a string on each colour so that it can attach to the car seat or plane tray table)
  • a clipboard and paper to colour on that is small enough for the car seat or plane tray
  • a small white board and markers
  • felt board stories from the dollar store
  • magnetic stories from Chapters or an educational children’s toy store
  • travel board games that have all the pieces contained from Toys R Us or most major department stores
  • dot-to-dot books and word searches
  • suduko for older children
  • read-a-long books with the CD if you have a portable device (a worthwhile investment if you travel alot!!)
  • Crayola modelling clay in different colours from Michaels or most department stores. It is non-toxic and not messy at all.
  • special little packs of fishy or animal crackers
  • a new dolly with clothes or small transformer truck
  • sticker books from the dollar store
  • beads and a string packed in a ziploc bag for necklaces. Make sure you have a bead tied to the bottom of the string so that they can’t fall off.

I hope these ideas can get you started on your travels. Please leave a comment if you have any other great ideas that have worked for you!

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