Traveling can be hard when kids are involved. It's not a matter of just getting there in one piece anymore but getting there with your sanity and their good behavior intact. Whether you're traveling by plane, train, bus, or car, it's important to be prepared and travel with everything that you need to keep a kid entertained without having to bring every toy they own. No matter what your mode of travel, there are easy things that you can do and bring to make getting where you're going more fun for everyone.
Air travel, domestic (within the country) or international, can be really hard for any kid. The long lines at the airport make you wait for what seems like hours, and you might even find yourself out of one line just to have to get in another. With all of this standing around, it's no wonder kids get bored and maybe a bit cranky, but there are some things that kids and families can do to make flights and the time spent at the airport a bit better. This is a perfect time to start planning your emergency "Entertain Me" kit.
An "Entertain Me" kit can be many things, and it really depends on what you and your family like to do. This kit should be easy to carry, easy to clean up, and full of a variety of fun activities that can be done with little space and with or without the help of others. If you're traveling with more than one child, it might be best to pack each a separate "Entertain Me" kit; it can go a long way in cutting down bickering in the airport and helps to ensure that everyone has enough options and things that interest them. Things you might pack in an airport "Entertain Me" kit might include playing cards or travel-sized games, coloring books and crayons, books to read, and puzzles.
If you're going on a long trip by car, you might have a bit more wiggle room than when you're using public transportation; you'll have the freedom to stop and stretch your legs along the way, and you can pack more things into your "Entertain Me" kits. Aside from things to do while you're sitting in the car, like coloring books and puzzles, you could also pack small things that you can use to play outside of the car. Jump ropes or a Skip-It game could be a great way for kids to stretch their legs at a rest stop. While you're on the road, make use of what's around you and play a group game, like I Spy or spotting all of the letters of the alphabet on license plates. Make your own fun to make the time in the car pass a bit faster.
Aside from keeping kids from being bored, you also have to keep their basic needs in mind. Packing travel-sized foods and drinks is important to keep kids happy and can really help to keep the cost of traveling down, a nice bonus for families traveling on a budget. Pre-packaged snacks and a couple of special treats for good behavior can go a long way in keeping kids happy on long trips. Also important is bottles of water; yes, it might mean more bathroom breaks along the way, but it's important for everyone to stay hydrated and healthy along the way. Travel-sized first aid kits and medicines are also important to bring on any trip, so they can be used if someone gets sick or hurt. If you spot that someone's getting sick or has been hurt and you help them get better fast, it can be less likely that everyone else in the group will get sick, too.
For more tips and tricks for a successful family trip, look at these pages that offer travel activities for kids and more: