Traveling with children..... a challenge.... and not a fun one, many times. We have traveled a lot with our children since one child needed lots of surgeries at a hospital 12 hours from home... and he needed them between one and seven times a year.... for a lot of years. We also had family who lived 3 hours or 12 hours or 21 hours away... a LOT of traveling.
(More on the medical trips here: Unfinished Projects )
This is a Jacob's Ladder.. you hold a block and the others move into place... fun to use and watch.
We had many small children at the time.... riding in a van for 12 hours each way.... not exactly the stuff of dreams. :) I wanted these to be good trips and God gave me some great ideas. One was that I started watching at garage sales for small toys that could be enjoyed in the car or waiting room. I especially like toys that hold a child's attention and let them use their imagination. I don't like battery operated toys and my children had very few of them - we homeschool and I love to entice my children to learn and explore.... to think and have fun....
Some favorite toys for holding attention are these little toys that have colored water that bubbles through a hole... there are so many different kinds of these types of toys... and they can be found at garage sales..... though you have to look for a while to find them.
There is just something about watching the bubbles move and the colors change.
There are so many great toys that can be used... and I am only showing a few of them here. We had a "Toy Tote" that always went with us... it was a small tote - maybe 18" x 10" x 10" tall. It fit perfectly under the seat in our Ford big van... (we had a matching tote that was the very important "Snack Tote"). I changed the toys in it for different trips.... I never put all of our toys in it, but saved some back for future trips to keep things fresh and interesting. Also, these toys were NOT played with at home... they were trip toys or doctor office toys, so they stayed special.
This is the bottom side that you press something into to form the shape shown on top.
Find A Word books, word puzzles, small books, flash cards, and more are great. A beach ball is a good addition and can be blown up easily/quickly for bigger play at rest stops, to give their muscles some exercise.
When a little older, the child enjoys taking these apart and putting them together. Making color patterns or sorting into single colors.
The toy pulls out and changes shapes. It can even form a ball shape.
It is good for children to learn to entertain themselves... and small things like this can help. We did not replace the toy every few minutes... if you do that, you will go through all of your activity supply too quickly and it will also lead to a short attention span for your child. I would usually allow one or two for a while... usually I did not allow the children to sort through the toys... in fact I tried to keep many of the items secret until I pulled them out. The kids learned to anticipate those surprises and I used them carefully.
We had regular times of clean up and putting toys away. It helped preserve the toys and helped the van not to get AS messy! :)
Books on tape helped to pass the time.... and I would read chapter books to my children and tape them at home, then we took the tapes with us. My family STILL enjoys listening to those when we travel. We also listened to sermons sometimes and discussed them.... or played music. We alternated between kid's music that we would all sing along to... or Praise music, hymns or more.
Sometimes I would do an impromptu craft project with them.... like making yarn pom pom balls..... or paper airplanes that we could fly at the rest stop.....
Polly Pockets were tiny at the time (from garage sales, of course) and my daughter had a few of them and had so much fun bringing those in her little purse and they took up very little room. The boys always had to bring some little cars.... and could play for a long time with them even in the hotel room.
Other activities I have used, include beads(larger ones work well) and string and allow the child to put them on in patterns. I would put some beads in a little bag and encourage the kids to try not to drop them... We took a few trays with us that stacked neatly, but were small and had sides on them to keep their activity on their lap.
I had a lot of little stuffed animals - the ones that are about 1 1/2" long... and the kids LOVED playing with those...... A sand timer can be useful to look at or to time quiet times.....Rubik's Cube, magnetic games like chess or checkers. I would take a few pattern blocks to use in hotel rooms.
We never had ALL of these things and more at the same time, but I pulled from these... and many many more. We went on at least 50 or more trips in about 10 years' time, so we had to figure out how to make it work. If you know you will be going on a trip, you can start watching and setting things aside for the trip - you can find stuff at garage sales, thrift stores, dollar stores, gifts received and saved, and more. The items do not need to be what I found... just keep watching for items that may be workable for your family.... think "outside the box"
Women Helping Women
Making Your Home Sing Mondays
True Stories Party
Meet Up Monday
Everyday Life Link Party
The Art of Homemaking
Sharing His Beauty
Link It or Lump It
Homestead Barn Hop
Weekend No Rules
Show & Tell Sat
Weekly Wrap Up
My Favorite Things
Farmgirl FridayThought Provoking Thursday
Hearts For Home
No Rules Weekend Party
The Homemaking Party
Fabulously Frugal Thursday
So Much At Home