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We've all been there; stuck at the airport or bus terminal or train station, or just plain trapped in traffic... waiting. I'll be the first to admit that patience is not my strong suit, so I can hardly blame agitated or cranky little travelers for fits of frustration or boredom. That said, when we travel with my (now school-age) daughter, we like to be ready for whatever we may encounter... including delays. We created what we call the "Busy Bag;" and we NEVER go on a trip without it! Here are our favorite items/ideas for killing time while waiting in terminals or traffic:
- Books - Every child has a favorite, just try and avoid hardcover as they can be heavy to tote around!
- Travel sized games - Connect Four, Sorry, a deck of cards, Checkers, Chess, Memory, etc. think compact and fun (magnetic versions are the best for preventing lost pieces)!
- Coloring/sketch books and crayons/colored pencils - 'nuff said.
- Brainquest Cards - Education disguised as fun - the best of both worlds!
- Snacks - Individually wrapped granola or energy bars, small water pods, single serve size chips, raisins, etc.
- Riddles - Whether from a book or just from memory, solving riddles is fun and helps strengthen developing cognitive skills!
- Mad Libs - Again, edu-taining... and timeless! A fun way to enhance vocabulary, spelling, penmanship, and creativity, and laugh yourselves silly!
Other fun ideas that you don't need to pack anything for:
- I-Spy - Have your children guess what you are looking at by using deductive reasoning (and clues!) to identify the object.
- Build a Story game - Start with one person beginning with a single sentence and passing it on to the next person to add to; its endless fun and, as an added bonus, it fosters creativity and storytelling ability!
- Sing-long - Stop cringing, this doesn't have to be Raffi or some PBS-show theme song; teach your child a lullaby, a silly song, or a song about your heritage. If that isn't your style, just throw on the radio and sing together!
School-aged kids can usually communicate basic needs, but toddlers and infants can sometimes prove a little more challenging to accommodate, so here are a few additional ideas for the younger set (birth to 1 year old):
- Pacifier - Not good for all the time, but sometimes its just the perfect soother.
- Stuffed toys/blankies - Comfort items are key - never leave home without them!
- Plastic keys - Fun, minimally noisy, great for teething; these were a big favorite when our daughter was an infant!
- Unbreakable plastic mirror - Again, fascinating as s short term distraction; try games with the mirror like Peekaboo from a location that she can only see in the mirror (i.e. behind her or off to the side).
- Fresh Food Feeders (6 months +) - A great snacking option that can do double duty as a teether!
Safe and happy travels!