‘Not all classrooms have walls’. There is an infinite amount of lessons just waiting to be discovered and traveling is a great way to introduce your child to the world. Travel opens the heart, broadens the mind, and fills our life with stories to tell.
Moreover, the quality time helps new parents bond with their children and make memories.The shared experiences of new places, food & flavors, and meeting different people can enrich your child’s formative years.
While it sounds amazing, the uncertainties of travel might put you off from taking that trip. We take so much care in creating a safe cocoon for our child in our homes, that stepping out may seem like a daunting task.
If you are looking for ideas on how to keep your child engaged in those hours of travel, play has got you covered. Whether you are doing a road trip, traveling by train, or flight, or even planning to eat at a restaurant, play can make the experience a great one. Planning a few educational games and activities in advance can engage your child letting you handle the inevitable uncertainties.
A happy child is a great travel companion, and you get to explore more together. So here's a list of travel games and lightweight toys to help you along the way!
Engaging a baby
If your child is yet to move too fast for you to catch up, they are comparatively easier to manage. You can carry them and most of their toys which are lightweight and portable.Here are a few play tips for a trip with an infant.
1. Books & High Contrast Flash Cards
When you are traveling in a confined space like a car or a flight, you can carry their favorite rattle or a set of High contrast Flashcards to stick to the surface in front of them. You can also prop up a book with big pictures to catch their attention.
Babies tend to put in their mouths anything and everything within their reach, so do not forget to take their teethers for the way.
3. Sensory toys
Sensory toys are one of the most convenient options to engage a baby. There are multipurpose toys available that serve as a teether, an accessory for the play gym, a rattle, and also serving as a sensory toy for babies, all in one. And not to forget, sensory toys like Play silk always do the magic when we have to calm down a cranky baby.
4. Comfort Toy
Most babies would have that favorite toy they drag around. In an unfamiliar environment, such toys help soothe your child. Forgetting them may make them upset, so be sure to keep it packed and handy.
5. Peek-a-boo, Rhymes
For moments when you have to engage the baby without toys, a quick game of peek-a-boo, singing songs and rhymes for them, or simply talking to them will brighten the day.
Traveling with a toddler
Entertaining toddlers in a confined space can be quite challenging. This is the stage where they start playing with action, walking, running, and searching for hidden objects and you can direct this ability of your child to engage them in fun activities while traveling.
1. Small toys
Carry easy-to-pack interactive books, bingo sheets, and small animal-, science-, superhero- or sports-themed toys. This time together can also be a great opportunity to inspire kids with new topics. Also, consider holding something back; surprising toddlers with new or forgotten toys is a sure way to grab their attention, at least for a few minutes.
2. Art and craftwork
Engaging activities like coloring books and art projects with linoleum felt, magnetic or adhesive cut-outs are mess-free and keep the little hands and minds busy. Card games and some lightweight blocks are sure to give them company when traveling by train. Play Dough is a great resource to get creative and have fun.
3. Games for a confined space
When spaces restrict their movement, engage them with a fun game of 'I Spy' or ' Spotto' or ‘Who can see the next car with a number plate that has 3 and 6?' It's a fun and family-friendly guessing game that can be played by children of almost any age. You could sing along to music together too.
4. Pretend Play
You can never go wrong with Pretend Play. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, you know that it's always the right time for pretend play! Carry a hand puppet and put on a puppet show while traveling. Talk to your child about the different landscapes and scenes you see along the way. Getting them to stay alert and notice is a sure-shot way to beat boredom!
Traveling with a preschooler
While Preschoolers still have a lot of energy, they tend to follow instructions, making it slightly easier for the parent.
1. Word games and riddles
Play word games and makeup jokes and riddles together. You can start with jokes like ‘Knock knock' or ‘Why did the chicken, frog, cow (whatever makes you laugh) cross the road?' Then get your child to make up their own.
2. Board games
Play board games like ‘snakes and ladders', dominoes, and simple card games. This helps your child learn to take turns and play fair. Board games don't just have to be for travel. It's a great way to plan a family game night while you are away on vacation!
Get creative inventing a family fairy tale! The first person starts with "Once upon a time…" and offers a complete sentence, then the second person adds to the story with their sentence. Take turns adding sentences until the story concludes. You could set a time limit and record the story. This can be a great way to create a cherished memory.
4. Sticker books, Activity worksheets, and coloring books
Take simple worksheets that you know your child is sure to enjoy and take a few of them. Some engaging activity worksheets and coloring books are a great way to rescue the kids from boredom and they will ensure that you have some restful moments for yourself. Stickers are an all-time favorite of toddlers. They love pulling them out from the books and pasting them on different surfaces. Make sure you get reusable stickers because you would not want them to be pasted all over your car.
5. Screen time and writing tablets
It's okay to give toddlers some screen time when they are on a long trip. Screen time works best when it's dark outside, and there's nothing much to see. Let them get a cheat time to enjoy some video games. Download a few kid-friendly movies beforehand. Let them enjoy some free doodling on the way and make sure your device is adequately charged.
6. Water Painting
This is a great mess-free activity. All you need is a paint-with-water coloring book and water paint brushes. During the journey, fill the paint brushes with water and hand over the books to the children. Toddlers are excited when the color appears on their books without using any paint.
Bonus Tips and Final Words:
While we have spoken about play, be sure to use these time-tested tips for better moods.
- Travel could be overwhelming for anyone. Prepare your child with shorter trips to build comfort with unfamiliar environments and routines.
- Involve your child in planning, discussions and even packing, this not just sets expectations but also makes the experience more enjoyable.
- Keep an ample buffer so that you get enough time for any surprises including a visit to the loo.
- Avoid over packing and keep the luggage simple. Have an extra set of clothes handy with other essentials.
- Children tend to wander off, it is essential to talk to them about what to do in an emergency.
- If you have a choice, choose a child-friendly schedule, mode of travel and destination to make the expedition easy for you.
- Don’t be afraid to seek help. Most strangers are kind and if you are struggling, they would be happy to help. All you need to do is to ask!
Travel hassles are bound to happen especially when you are traveling with a child. Try to keep calm and carry on, even if your original schedule falls through. Children model our behavior, therefore, trust and positivity will help de-escalate any situation.
After all, you and your children should enjoy seeing the world and create a lifetime of memories along the way. Isn't that the point of travel in the first place?