Tips to keep your kids occupied during the hectic Thanksgiving travel weekend
If you are about to take the kids on a flight this Thanksgiving weekend, I have some great ideas to keep little ones occupied. The dreaded words “airport delays” are even worse if you are traveling with kids during the holidays. Besides threatening them to behave so Santa doesn’t skip your house this year, try being prepared with the following tips:
You get more with sugar than you do with salt
I tell my kids, “If you give me what I want (good behavior) on our travel day, you will get what you want (junk food).” This has served me very well over the years. My kids don’t normally get to grab a bag of Cheetos and M&Ms. But, on our travel days, anything goes. They can each have a snack of choice (one per customer) from the airport gift shop. Next year, save your Halloween candy for your holiday travel days since the portions are usually smaller. Allowing them to have whatever they want within reason takes away the “gimmies” and tantrums while you are standing in long lines.
Pack a bag of never-before-seen toys or ones that you have hidden away for a while
Toddlers have short-term memories. If you find small, entertaining toys they love (i.e. the Etch-A-Sketch or Mess-Free markers) hide them away and pull them out for holiday travel times. Old stand-bys like Play-Doh, Silly Putty and a tiny bottle of bubbles can be life-savers. I also like to pack tracing paper in my bag. Tracing pictures from comic books is a great time-consuming activity and packs easily in a carry-on.
Use this time to teach children how to do something new
I used a 4-hour airport delay to teach my kids how to play chess. A quantity of time can actually be good quality time. Try teaching kids Sudoku or how to do word searches. Tic-Tac-Toe and a good game of Hangman cost nothing and are a great way to stop clock-watching.
Study the destination
If you are visiting a new place, use the time to teach your children about geography and history. It’s always fun to learn facts about your destination. Make it kid-friendly with a great picture book. Before I go on vacation, I print pictures and information from the internet about the place and staple the pages together for a make-shift book to read on our journey.
Ask the airport personnel if they have an indoor playground
In Tampa airport, for example, they have a hangar-themed playground, where the kids take their shoes off, climb and run to burn off steam before the flight. And, if you can’t find a constructed playground, make your own imaginary fun. Ride the trains to different terminals, etc. Kids love a good “Choo-Choo”.
Picture courtesy of Flickr member onesix8