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Travelling with Littles

Posted by on in Parenting
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Travelling with children can be a special time, even on a road trip! The kids have the potential to triple their vocabulary on a week-long car trip if that's what is chosen to work on. Relationships among family members can improve with interactive car games. Whether infant, toddler, or early elementary, littles can have fun and leap ahead in cognitive development and fine motor skills while en route to your holiday destination.

While technology is a very handy tool to have when travelling, make sure your children are not on their devices the whole travel time. Pack a backpack/travel bag per child that they may fill with their travel treasures. Elementary age children can usually make independent choices on what to leave and what is important to bring. This may include dolls (with add-ins of ribbons, pieces of fabric, etc.) that would be useful for making up stories so be sure to include several that can interact with each other. Comic books, graphic novels, magazines, coloring books, and educational workbooks are all lightweight for easier transportation. Crayons are recommended over markers for use in the car but be sure to keep them in a baggie in case there is weather hot enough to melt them.

A separate family trip bag can be filled with toys that are never seen except for on a trip. These toys might be:

  • Travel Activity Book
  • Stringing beads - toddler beads (bigger for younger kids until they stop putting things in their mouths), try making color patterns, older children can make bracelets for friends (or weave potholders on metal looms)
  • Pieces of pegboard (1"x1.5") - cut to the size of a child's lap, add colorful shoelaces to weave in and out.
  • Manipulatives: rubix cubes, snakes that change into boxes (older toy), toys that can be used by a lot of different ages, games that work well in a car and don't have tiny parts.
  • Long lasting suckers (on a stick to prevent choking) or beef jerky. The idea is to give these to the kids when they are tired and hungry. These can be known as special treats only for road trips.

Things that cannot be packed but are just as fun:

  • Word games such as "I Spy" (remember toddlers and preschoolers are more aware of what is inside the car than outside and it is difficult for them to catch sight of the fast moving things passing). Use word games for learning anything such as colors, letters, numbers, sounds (which will aid in learning to read).
  • Alphabet Race - everyone in the car tries to find the letters of the alphabet in order. When you see a letter, shout it out. Look at license plates, street signs, billboards, etc. This can also be done with shapes and numbers.
  • Progressive story- tell a story together. One person starts the story then each person thereafter gets a turn to add to the story. Any child who is verbal and has been read to enough to understand that there is a beginning, middle, and end to a story can play. The littles may only say one sentence whereas older children may need to be limited by a timer on their turn.
  • Piggle - this book introduces a game where a word is said and the challenge is to think of three other words, real or made up, that rhyme with it. This helps with learning the concept of taking turns as well as building the vocabulary.

Once you've reached your destination, celebrate! A tradition on family camping trips was to visit a nearby grocery for ice cream and cones to dig into when we got settled in. If you're in nature, encourage the children to carry on their play from the car such as making sticks into log cabins for their dolls. If you're at the beach, they can dig in the sand or make race boats out of whatever they can find. The play only continues and there were fun memories made not only at the destination but along the way.