I never provide our smartphones or my kindle fire on trips, partly because I don’t want the devices damaged, but mostly because I don’t want my kids becoming screen zombies. Here’s what I make them do instead.
I have a couple rules for travel toys and games: it needs to have few pieces so they don’t get lost, the child can play with the toy or game without adult intervention (for car trips especially), and the toy or game should provide hours of imaginative play. Here are my favorites based on our last few travels with a four year old and two year old.
Top car travel games that don’t require help from adults in the front seat
- For several years my 4 year old has enjoyed Richard Scarry books and other books filled with pictures while riding in the car. This works best if we’ve read the story multiple times and he remembers the storyline. I especially like Busy, Busy World for its introduction to countries and cultures (albeit one filled with stereotypes). Another favorite is What Do People Do all Day?
- Melissa and Doug reusable sticker books provide hours of entertainment. For younger kids, you may have to help peel some stickers off or help them located which stickers go where. These get played with until they fall apart, which unfortunately happens quickly thanks to the paper scenes the stickers go on. One of our favorites of this series is My Town.
- Wipe Clean: My Big Activity Book is best for children who know how to write their letters and numbers, but with parental involvement can be good for younger children. My toddler loves to scribble and then wipe off the page.
Top plane travel games that are light and provide hours of fun
- Richard Scarry’s Big Busy Sticker and Activity Book was a big hit with my 4 year old on our trip to Russia in May. We do need to read the directions and tell him which stickers go with which page.
- We bought the First 100 Words Sticker Book for my two year old, but she needs a lot of adult help. There are stickers that get matched to gray shapes and the toddler loves finding the shape that matches the sticker.
- Airport set by Daron is great for imaginative play. My four year old moves the little vehicles around as he imagines airport life. And of course he loves to fly the airplane. While there are too many small pieces to make this toy good for use inside a car or airplane, we brought the airport set out while waiting for a flight or at an airbnb apartment that didn’t have anything else to play with.
I’m always looking for new toys and books for upcoming trips. What are your favorite travel toys or books? How do you entertain toddlers and infants on long trips? How do you entertain your older children? Leave a comment and let me know your suggestions.
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