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Tips for Keeping Children Occupied on the Road
Tips for Keeping Children Occupied on the Road

Child reading a book


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

By MarĂ­a Laura Lecuona

A repeated "Are we there yet?" can be as annoying for a parent as spending 10 hours sitting in a car, bus, train, boat or plane can be for a child. Remember when you were little? So, if your trip requires traveling long distances with your kids, get organized in advance and avoid boredom, cranky kids and ensure a happier trip for all.

Think about kids when making arrangements
Make choices with your children in mind. Will they sleep in cars, buses, trains or planes? An overnight trip may be an option. Do they enjoy making new friends? Request seats near other children. Review onboard entertainment when selecting an airline. Several offer individual TV screens complete with games, music and films for kids. The train or ferry may be a valid alternative. Certain trains and ferries offer similar entertainment features as well as the opportunity to go for a walk when the kids get tired of their seats. If you plan to drive, why not rent a van with a DVD player?

Bring your own entertainment
Give kids something to do, and they will feel like they are at a playroom even if they are strapped in their car seats. Bring toys and travel games that are appropriate for their age, reflect their interests and are suitable for long hours of travel. You do not need to pack their entire room. Take only a few key toys or gadgets (CD player, magnetic games, a selection of small toys) and use the ones you will be carrying anyway. Load a few children's programs onto your laptop or use it as a DVD player.

Get up and move around
Do not expect 10 hours of quiet playing. Give kids the chance to move around at least occasionally. No jumping on the seats, but why not walk the train or plane, visiting the toilet, kitchen or bar. If you are traveling by car, plan special stops: 10 minutes at a playground throwing and catching a ball will change their mood and satisfy their need for movement.

Don't make it harder
A tired or hungry kid is a cranky kid. Arrange your travel so that it does not interfere with your child's sleeping and eating schedule. Have pillows and blankets on hand if children decide to take a nap or simply want to a bit of quiet time. Pack snacks and drinks and offer them frequently during the trip.

Play together
For many kids, travel time is the opportunity to have their parents all to themselves. So get ready to play and they will have the time of their lives. Questions and answers, count signs, spot animals alongside the road, read license plates, sing songs, play board games or simply have a good conversation. It will keep them (and you) busy and happy on any long distance trip.

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