With the new year upon us, you may be planning family trips for this year. Traveling with younger children can be tricky, but the benefits of young minds seeing new places are worth it. Family trips and vacations can become treasured memories for everyone involved with proper planning ahead of time. A simple way to start the trip off on a strong note ahead of time is to pick out games and activities for the kids to bring with them. The best travel toys are compact, easy to move and store, versatile, and can be used indoors and outdoors.
Card games are tried-and-true classics — and there’s a reason for that. A deck of cards or a children’s card game that comes in a small box is easy to bring anywhere. Card games help children learn to focus, take turns, and recognize patterns. Many card games are also fun for the entire family and get everyone involved. Cards may not be the best fit for a car ride or a plane, but they work well on a train, a ship, in a hotel, or outside.
Like card games, many puzzles are easy to bring on a vacation due to their portability. Puzzles with small pieces or jigsaw puzzles may not be the best for a car, plane, or any moving vehicle where the pieces are likely to fall between the seats or on the floor. However, puzzles with larger wooden pieces work well and keep children engaged. Collaborative play with friends and family members can be a fun part of the trip, and puzzles encourage this.
Travel-size Board Games
Many beloved board game brands now make travel-size versions of their games. These versions will typically have smaller pieces or be connected differently. The difference in size can make these games more convenient to bring in the car or on a plane and easily fit in luggage. If a child is nervous about going on a trip (or scared of being on the plane, train, etc.), picking out a travel toy with them beforehand can help ease their nerves, so they know they’ll have a fun activity to do.
Inflatable balls, beach toys, or lawn games can be great travel toys. Since you can deflate the toys, they won’t take up much space in luggage or the car. Don’t let beach toys be limited to sandy shores – a beach ball can make for fun outdoor play anywhere. Or, if you stay in a hotel or home with a pool, inflatables make for a great time.
Another classic toy for all ages is the hacky sack. Many brands make these small sacks filled with sand or pellets, and the size is ideal for travel. A hacky sack can provide a competitive outdoor game where players kick the sack between each other – in fact, variations of this game are common in many countries. You could also use the hacky sacks for a small bean bag toss game, juggling, or playing catch.
Activity books come in all shapes, sizes, and age levels. Crosswords, word searches, mazes, word scrambles, color-by-the-numbers, sudoku, and more can all be found in paper activity books that are easy to bring along for the trip. If the child regularly plays on a tablet or other electronic device, many apps have similar games that you might find in these books. However, activity books will do the trick if you prefer a non-electronic option or worry about a tablet staying charged.
Many children have “security items,” like a favorite blanket or a stuffed animal. These items offer a sense of familiarity in unfamiliar situations or environments. They will likely want to bring one of these items with them on a trip, and unless their item is too large or difficult to move, it is best to accommodate them. If they don’t have a security item, bringing a favorite toy from home could also provide the same sense of comfort.
Even with all the toys, games, and electronics on the market, sometimes the best play is done through a child’s imagination. If you’re taking a road trip, you can easily grow weary of “I Spy” and the license plate game. Take some time to look up other imagination-based games, tell stories, make jokes, etc., and with some creativity, the kids will stay engaged and intrigued.
Check out Hollow Woodworks
Here at Hollow Woodworks, we specialize in custom handcrafted gifts out of wood. Although our classic puzzle name stools may not be the best for travel, we have other products and puzzles that will work well to take with you on your next trip. Get in touch with us today!