With schools closed and holiday season in the air, a good vacation is on all our minds! But we know that travelling with a little one can be stressful, especially after two years of living cooped up at home in a pandemic.
If your child is getting anxious about the journey or growing restless with their 50th "Are we there yet?", a simple game can keep them engaged or distracted until you reach your destination.
Whether you are doing a road trip, travelling by train or in a flight, planning a few games and activities in advance can make a big difference. So here's a list of travel-games and light-weight toys to help you along the way!
1. Spot by Colour
This is an easy game that you can play to get your trip started! Someone from the family can pick a colour and say it out loud. Everyone else has to point out when they spot something in the same colour. For example, if the colour is white, everyone needs to spot white cars, white shirts, white shopfronts and so on until the play lead says Switch and suggests another colour. For older children, you can add more intricate shades or try spotting a sequence like a red dress > white car > blue hoarding.
2. Board Games
If you are travelling on a train, a board game is perfect to carry along. Be it an advanced game like chess or more fast-paced, simple games like Pancake Up, the challenge of winning is perfect to keep your children engrossed as the miles go by.
Board games don't just have to be for travel. Here's how you can plan a family game night while you are away on vacation!
3. Build a Story
Does your family love to get creative? Then Build a Story could be perfect for you! One person can begin a story with a sentence and each of you can pick up and add to it. To make it more interesting, add a rule that each sentence has to have something you spot on the way, at the railway station, or in the airport. Or you could use these story cubes for cues. They are a set of four cubes with visuals printed on all sides. You toss the cubes and depending on the visuals that come up, everyone needs to make a story weaving them together. Or toss one cube at a time and take the story where it goes!
4. Card Games
Card games are a staple while travelling. They keep you company in airports, can be played in planes or trains, and even while on vacation. A set of classic cards or UNO is perfect. For smaller kids, you could use Snap Cards or Memory Cards. These keep your kiddo engaged while you enjoy the scenery or do the navigation!
5. Puppet Play
If you have toddlers or preschoolers, you know that it’s always the right time for pretend play! Put on a puppet show while travelling. Talk to your child about the different landscapes and scenes you see along they way. Getting them to stay alert and notice is a sure-shot way to beat boredom!
Want to make a cute puppet at home? Follow this simple DIY Sock Puppet Video!
Nothing livens up a long road trip like some fun tunes! Create a special playlist for your trip and get everyone to sing along every now and then. You could even have a singing riff-off or good old antakshari, where each person has to sing a song with the phrase, word, or sound that that last person’s song ended with.
7. 20 Questions
This game is classic for a reason – it kills time, keeps the mind fully engaged, and has a nice air of mystery to it! For the uninitiated, all you have to do is think of a person that all of you know and have your family guess who you’ve thought of in 20 Yes or No questions.
8. Tic Tac Toe
Yes, travel games can sometimes be as simple as the X and O! All you need is a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. If you are travelling in a train or a plane, our 3D Tic Tac Toe can be even more fun to play. Younger kids are sure to love the colours, illustration, and chunky feel of these blocks.
Does your child love playing X&O? Click here to download & print more such age-appropriate activities!
Another way to get your child to notice everything you pass by is to play Collector. Decide on an object like a signboard, an animal, or shops and make them call out and ‘collect’ whenever they spot one. The first person to spot it, collects it! You can even level up and decide on more specific objects like billboards for jewellery, banana trees, or Chinese restaurants.
Tangrams are 7-piece Chinese puzzles that you can easily carry around with you. Give your child different objects to make with it such as a bird, a cat, or a house, and they’ll stay happily engaged for a while.
11. I’m going to the beach and I’m taking…
If your little one is getting cranky along the last stretch of a journey, this is the perfect game to play! Each person can start their sentence with “I’m to going to the beach and I’m taking” and complete the sentence with something you spot around you at the moment. You can tweak this from beach to the name of a city or wherever you are travelling. You could even make it a memory game by having everyone repeat the objects said until then before adding a new one.
You don’t have to do it perfectly!
While it would be fantastic to have a journey filled with cooperative kids in the back seat, tons of family bonding, and a smooth travel, that’s hardly ever the case. In fact, a day of travel is just like any other day with little kids in the house. Expect some chaos, crying, a lot of play, and a sense of endless adventure.
Here's mom and ace traveler Shweta Ganesh Kumar of @timesofamma talking about making travel with toddlers stress-free and fun on our podcast Playtime with shumee. Listen away!