Traveling with children instantly adds adventure to any trip and the getting-there part is supposed to be half the fun. Supposed to be!
This post originally appeared on Map Happy.
Sometimes an iPad can only hold a child's attention for so long -- electronic babysitter can't do everything--so here are some other fun ways to keep busy on the go that don't require any device or in-flight entertainment. Because there were once ways to entertains kids.
This may seem like an obvious activity, but coloring has evolved into so much more than just drawing on paper these days (though we've found that a pen and paper will also do the trick). There are many exciting and ornate coloring books to choose from for toddlers--and, following the current trend, for adults, too.
It's important to choose the right coloring utensils. For older children, colored pencils and fine point markers are great but for the little ones, beeswax crayons are the best. Particularly crayons that are flat and won't roll away. It's even possible to get all DIY before the journey and making creations like these crayons and many others you can find on Pinterest.
Marker boards aren't messy
Marker boards (think Magna Doodle and Etch a Sketch) can provide hours of fun. Ask the little kiddos to use them to draw up the scenes outside a window, portraits of a seatmate, or make up games that involve drawing answers out, like Tic-tac-toe. There are so many creative ways to use these boards and the best part is they are mess free!
Move over, Play-Doh
Tin foil is the new Play-Doh. Okay maybe it's not, but who wants to clean up the mess of Play-Doh on a plane or in the car? Tin foil is shiny, pliable and can be folded, rolled and torn easily. Wrap up little surprise toys for the trip in tin foil and let the little ones unwrap them. Grab a roll and go for it.
Bonus tip: When you are using your tray table you can wrap it in tin foil, draw on it and eat on it knowing that it's much cleaner than the uncovered surface. Tray tables are gross.
Origami in Japan?
Hey kid, you want to try making this? (Emre Ayaroglu / Flickr)
Brush up on those ancient paper-folding skills. Grab a good how-to to book on the foldable art or download some sheets from the Web before leaving the house. (You can even use your tin foil for this activity!) For smaller kiddos, you can do the folding and create a story about these creations along the way. Let them color the paper, or let them follow the step-by-step instructions as you fold and create together.
Post-Its are for more than just reminders. Draw out letters, play word games, matching games and memory games. Stick them on the windows, the seat in front of you, travel maps, books and more! They are also particularly wonderful to write down memorable moments and share on your journey home.
Finger puppets for all
Finger puppets are a fun DIY activity to create before your trip. Make a puppet for all the travel companions (mom, dad, baby and minion) and then act out the fun skits as you go along. If you don't have time to make your own, grab a bundle of puppets from the local toy store.
It's possible to use some of the other activities mentioned previously to create a scene or a stage for the show. Little ones will love trying the puppets on their fingers and imagining their own stories, while older kids can come up with story lines and dialogue for presenting their show to their audience.
Create a story together
This one is a classic. Think of an introduction to a story while everyone builds off of that. Take turns adding the next sentence or next plot twist. Create your characters and settings or make a story about your trip, destination, or things happening at that exact moment in time. Use the Post-Its to add to the story piece by piece, and then you could act out your story with your finger puppets!
Reading books is not passe
Maybe don't pack a book this big. (David Goehring / Flickr)
Grab easy-to-pack books for little ones (flat, small, light in weight.) Remember that books that are full of pictures will help hold little attention spans longer. For older children, try grabbing a "choose your own adventure" book where they can pick their own way through the book and re-read them a different way each time.
Finding books about the destination can also be a great way to get everyone even more excited about the journey.
Bring photos of places (duh)
Looking at photos together can be a unique way of turning it into a game. For instance: The "Who's that?" game where you point to people in the picture and have your child identify them.
Pictures of travels, home or destinations can be fun ways to put a name to a place by asking "Where is this?" such as I Spy game. For "Guess who," hold the photo up so only one person can see it and describe the person in the photo while the other person guesses who. No other time than to be in the moment when traveling.
Carly and her two year old daughter Lucy travel frequently from coast to coast and continent to continent. Carly has been to more than 40 countries, lived in England, Thailand and the US. She has taken her daughter abroad to 16 countries and counting, from rural China to New York City.