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Traveling? Keep Your Kids Entertained Without Screens

Traveling? Keep Your Kid Entertained Without ScreensLong trips with kids can be challenging, whether it’s by plane, train, car, or bus. It’s even more challenging when you want to entertain your children without the use of electronics. Ninety-eight percent of households with children 8 and under have access to a mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone. Usage of those screens increases during travel because it is just so easy to hand your kid your iPad or pop in a DVD in so you can drive in peace. If you’re looking for an alternative to sticking your kids in front of a screen to keep them entertained during long trips, try some of these ideas.

When you travel, it is just so easy to hand your kid your iPad or pop in a DVD in so you can drive in peace. What you need are ideas to keep your kids entertained screen-free. Click To Tweet

Coloring and Activity Books

Coloring books or activity books are inexpensive, easy ways to keep children occupied during long trips. A character coloring book, such as this one with Dr. Seuss, can inspire kids with a love of a certain TV show or character. If your child likes lots of variety, consider an activity book such as an “everything” activity book like this one. Does your child or teen feel like she’s too old for coloring books? Check out one of the newer adult coloring books with more intricate patterns to color. Don’t forget to pack a zipper bag of crayons, color pencils, or washable markers!

Books, Comics, and Graphic Novels

Books are tried and true travel companions, and a kid-friendly travel guide is a perfect way to get your child excited about the destination. When we went to Alaska last month, we packed books about the ports, bears, glaciers, and sled dogs. Disney World trips involve the history of Disney parks books, hidden Mickey books, and some Imagineer books. Also consider a couple of books from a new book series you think your older child would like, or board books featuring your younger child’s favorite characters. If your child isn’t a big fan of reading, try age-appropriate comic books, graphic novels that feature bright illustrations, or manga to keep their interest and get them to dive into some light reading.

Get your child excited about traveling with books on your destination, brain teasers, and activity sets centered on their favorite characters. Click To Tweet

Travel-Friendly Games

Travel games are also a great way to keep kids occupied on long trips. A deck of playing cards can make for dozens of game ideas for kids of all ages, or choose a card deck such as Old Maid, memory match, or other age-appropriate game if your child has a favorite. Skip-Bo and Uno have been our family favorites for years. Many popular board games also come in travel varieties, from chess and checkers to Scrabble and Trouble. Car bingo and versions of the license plate game can be found as free printables online. If you are taking a bus or car and expect a few pitstops along the way, consider taking a flying disc, inflatable ball, or jump rope for a quick activity to burn off some energy at meal stops and bathroom breaks.

Brain Teasers

Brain teasers are a fun way for kids to work their brains while traveling and can be entertaining for the whole family. Try a brain-bending activity book or a collection of riddles. Trivia books and “did you know” activities are also great brain builders. Activity books that feature kid-friendly versions of word search, crosswords, or Sudoku can also be a fun way to entertain as well as educate.

Character-Themed Games and Activity Books

If your children have a favorite character, consider putting together a character-themed collection for them. Let’s say your daughter enjoys Hello Kitty. Put together a travel collection featuring Hello Kitty Mad Libs, a Hello Kitty activity book, and a Hello Kitty sticker book, along with some Hello Kitty storybooks and a plush character she can read them to. When our kids were younger and we were heading to Disney World, I made Mickey and Friends activity books using free printables from the Internet, along with coloring books from the dollar store and a special Disney plush of their favorite characters.

Include books, coloring books, brain teasers, and travel-friendly games on your packing list to ensure the journey is as much fun as the destination. Click To Tweet

Traveling with children can be challenging, but it’s also a great opportunity to bond as a family and make lasting memories together. It’s easy to default to electronics for entertainment, but if you plan ahead and think about your children’s interests, it’s fun to plan activities to keep them entertained while traveling. Books, coloring books, brain teasers, and travel-friendly games are all tools you can include on your packing list to ensure the journey is as much fun as the destination.

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Traveling? Keep Your Kids Entertained Without Screens

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7 Replies

  1. Good ideas! As an alternative, give them a blank sketchbook. That’s simplicity and it’s open-ended. They can eavesdrop [good training for auditory skills], jot down observations, tally out-of-state license plates, or follow up on one of these ideas:

    1. Blank sketchbook is a great idea! I usually give my boys a small notebook for trips, but unlined would definitely add more room for creativity.

  2. Yes, good suggestions, Sandy and Tim! We also like travel journals, Boogie boards (basically an LED version of an Etch-a-Sketch), and audio books. Maps and tourist info can occupy them for awhile. I remember following along with the road atlas as a kid. It gives a much better sense of your route than Google maps. (We do use electronics on long trips but the kids know that the movie starts after a certain point, e.g. after lunch, 3-4 hours into the trip.)

  3. Sandy,
    (Colleen & Tim), the kids will moan and groan (at first) and soon make peace with it, and discover they are having fun! (And didn’t die of “boredom.”)
    If that becomes the “rule” for traveling—”no screens,” it will only add to making long distance traveling “different.” Similar to going camping—”roughing” it a bit. Many kids will complain & object at first, and soon learn to squeeze all the joy and life and fun out of the endeavors. It will help to make the trip memorable.
    Thanks, Sandy!

    1. Love that Danie! You’re so right — it makes the experience different, which will make it memorable!

  4. Great tips here Sandy for when traveling with kids on long road trips. Makes me remember when my sister and I were young. On long drives, we would count cars by certain colors. I’d do lots of reading and word games. When it got boring of course my sister and I would fight! Those were the days before all the devices came into our world!

    1. I remember crossing the country in the back seat with only our poodle for company. I read a lot of books on that trip!

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