Keep the Kids Occupied on Planes, Trains and Automobiles

A little girl, wearing a hat and sunglasses, sits with her suitcase in front of the ocean.Taking a cruise? Leaving on a jet plane? Hitting the open road? Summer is the busiest season for family vacations. Some say half the fun is getting there; however, some of those who say that might not have children. Car rides, plane trips and even extended time on a cruise ship can be uncomfortable and boring for a disinterested child. Here are a few tips that can help the whole family enjoy the trip, as well as the vacation.

On a Plane

  • Book an early flight. These flights are slightly less crowded than ones later in the day, and you’re less likely to run into delays at takeoff and landing. You might even get lucky and everyone will be sleepy enough to take a nap during the flight.
  • Give a gift. Kids enjoy unwrapping new toys, just as much as playing with new toys. Something small, like a few plastic action figures, a word search or a new coloring book, can keep them occupied for part of the flight.
  • Don’t overpack. You want to keep your kids occupied and comfortable, but they usually aren’t big enough to carry their own bags. Limit your packing list to a comfort item, wipes and diapers, a tablet with headphones, a small box of crayons and a coloring book, water and low-calorie snacks.

In the Car

  • Think about your seating arrangements. When you have more than one child, it might be wise to considering separating them as much as possible. If you don’t have a car with a third row, consider renting one or switching cars with a family member.
  • Try to maintain routines. Think about what times your kids usually eat and sleep and see if you can arrange your route around these routines to keep them from getting hungry or tired.
  • A car is a little restricting when it comes to playtime, so bring car-appropriate entertainment. Consider items like a tablet for some movie time, coloring and sticker books, audio books and headphones for story time, or search online for travel-sized versions of classic games like scrabble or card games.

Sailing On a Ship

  • Start from the very beginning and plan the trip along with your kids. Point out on the map where the boat is going and have them look online to see what fun things they have for kids to do. This will get them excited and interested in the trip.
  • Find family-friendly activities at ports of call. Do some research about the ports you’ll be stopping at to see what attractions the whole family would enjoy. Make sure you look at backups in case excursions are sold out.
  • Give them some independence. Older children can navigate the boat alone, just set up a meeting place for later. Younger ones can be signed up for children’s programs that cater to children as young as age 2.