We have seen it all before, one way or the other. Some of us have even experienced it ourselves. There is nothing more dangerous than a bored child on a long trip.
Or so some movies would have us think. But those of us who are parents or who have experienced traveling with children, keeping the children entertained for the duration of the journey does a lot for the peace and sanity of their adult companions, not to mention the other passengers of the car, train or airplane they are traveling in. Sudden shrieks and screams, not to mention the repeated chants of Are we there yet? are totally annoying and embarrassing.
The key to keeping your children from irritating their adult companions and their fellow travelers is to keep them entertained. A sure-fire way to keep them entertained is to keep their attention focused on books and toys. Every parent or every person who has worked closely with a child before knows that there different types of toys suited for every age group.
Babies, for instance, are contented with playing with any object that is shiny, full of colors and makes nice sounds. Rattles, music-makers, blocks that stick together magnetically and pop-up toys are perfect for keeping babies from shrieking with boredom while traveling.
If you are traveling with a toddler, the nice toys that will keep your toddler’s attention are probably things that he or she can squish, stuff or pull apart. Nested boxes and things that can fit into containers are great for entertaining toddlers on the road. Other toys that can work just as well are blankets, stuffed animals and wind-up toys.
Pre-schoolers and grade-school kids can focus on toys that will feed their minds. They are old enough to work on coloring books with stickers and crayons, wipe-off easels, picture books and pop-up books. They will also have a fun time playing with finger puppets, plastic action figures, micro-machines, putty, puzzles or Pokémon cards. Older grade-schoolers can also keep occupied with audio books playing on walkmans.
Older kids are much, much easier to handle because they can keep themselves occupied on their own. They can bring with them real books or comic books, as well as toys like travel-size Monopoly, Snakes-n’-Ladders, Mastermind, Lego or Mastermind. Cards like a regular deck of cards or playing cards like Magic: The Gathering are also great things to pass the time with while traveling. Simple paper games like Hangman and tic-tac-toe are also great. And then, there is the ever-popular GameBoy. It seems like you can keep a child entertained for hours on end with GameBoy alone.
Kids are always a handful and traveling with children can be a real hassle. Thus, it is not really surprising that a great many parents opt not to travel with their kids or to just take them along on trips when they are a little older. Keeping them from getting bored on the journey, however, helps a lot in lessening whatever grievances you may have to face as parents while you are on a trip with your children.