No one likes waiting, but, when you travel, waiting is definitely part of the experience. Of course all that waiting time can also yield some of the best parts of a trip as you meet new people, see new things and get to really talk and listen to your kids uninterrupted and undistracted.
That brings me to my number one way to beat boredom while waiting:
1. Ask your kids all sorts of questions and really, really listen to them. They probably have great stories in them just waiting to come out. Ask them what they expect on the trip, what they might want to do, where else they might want to travel or just about anything else. It’s a perfect time to be goofy, too. My son and I pull out our most ridiculous British accents when we travel.
But let’s just say you’ve asked all you can and need a new strategy. Here are 10 more ways to keep young travelers occupied and happy:
2. Play alphabet games. We love playing these games on short car trips and long ones. That link will give you a list for early readers and more advanced ones, too.
3. Portable car desks help bring fun (and schoolwork) on the road. They make playing with Lego bricks and play-doh possible and they make eating easier.
4. Wrapped treats to open at milestones along the trip make waiting a lot more fun. The treats don’t need to be elaborate, just something little to open each hour or as you cross each state line or whatever milestones you want to celebrate.
5. I always travel with Uno, but other card games work just as well. Most of the time we play by the rules, but I also let my kids make up their own rules here and there.
6. My kids LOVE puzzle books! I was surprised when my husband bought a variety pack of these puzzles by Penny Press, thinking the puzzles were for older kids, but my kids (ages 5, 8 and 10) were mesmerized. They offer puzzle books on a variety of levels and they are pretty inexpensive (and light to carry).
7. Stickers and sticky notes can keep toddlers entertained for a long, long time. Give them a bag of little stickers AND sticky notes and you’ll really be set!
8. Magazines for older kids or photos of family and friends in a cheap photo album for babies and toddlers. Before a long trip we always visit the bookstore to pick up new magazines to save for the trip.
9. Lollipops are a perfect snack. They alleviate ear pressure on a flight and also keep children occupied and typically quiet for quite a long time. Bring wipes to clean up sticky hands.
10. Individual snack mixes including special treats which may be taboo at other times. Let the kids munch at their leisure, provided they understand that once the treats are gone, they are gone.
11. A quart or gallon size bag of Lego bricks has been keeping my boys occupied for years. I let them fill the bag for a trip and I’m always surprised by which blocks or mini-figures they bring. And they can always find new ways to play with them.
Bonus boredom buster: Make your kids entertain themselves. Unless you are traveling with a baby who is crying, don’t jump at the first sign of boredom and solve the problem. Give them time to find out what they want to do and how to occupy themselves using options you already gave them in a handy dandy backpack or bag. This way, they’ll get better and better at waiting and finding something to do without your help.
What are your favorite ways to help your kids beat boredom when traveling?
Miss any days or want to know what’s ahead? Here are all 12 Days of Christmas Travel Tips on MomsTravelTales:
- Day 1: One pep talk about family travel
- Day 2: The two best ways to manage a time zone change
- Day 3: Three reasons to consider a hotel staycation in December
- Day 4: Four ways to minimize stress on travel days
- Day 5: Five ways to be a gracious overnight houseguest
- Day 6: Six ideas for pampering overnight guests
- Day 7: Seven people to tip when traveling (and how much)
- Day 8: Eight tips for international travel
- Day 9: Nine secrets for a great hotel stay with kids
- Day 10: Ten tips for a better flight with kids
- Day 11: Eleven tried and true ways to beat boredom while waiting
- Day 12: Twelve things I’ve learned about travel with kids
Want to know more than just travel?
- Christmas Homeschool Fun: 1+1+1=1
- Christmas Decorations: Songbird
- Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
- Saving Money: Surviving the Stores
- Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
- Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
- Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife