We’ve all heard it. There are still those adults who think kids should be bored as a way to build character. Then there are the ones who think a simple coloring book or two before sitting quietly and staring out the window is a realistic way to pass the time. In reality, their unicorn of a child is a total outlier, or these adults have extremely selective memories of what it’s really like to travel with kids. Our guess is they just never traveled with kids more than once in their life.
Don’t entertain the idea that kids can just learn to enjoy the art of travel and come up with their own entertainment. Travel can be a tiring and stressful experience for everyone, and even older kids need some kind of outlet to keep their minds and hands busy that doesn’t involve movies and shows. So what’s left besides coloring books where crayons litter your car like a minefield?
Here are 10 must-have travel-friendly toys for kids that give them some freedom to create and Mom and Dad some peace of mind.
Mess Free Marker Books
When we were kids, we were forced to deal with melting crayons in the car or parents who gasped and watched us like hawks every time the marker tops came off. But now we’ve got mess-free marker books where the marker ink only appears on special paper. Crayola has an entire line of mess-free Color Wonder activities with coloring sheets from just about every Disney favorite you can imagine.
Stickers are fun and easy to play with, but also don’t last long. Once your kids have stuck those stickers on their sheets, they’re ready to move onto something else about 90 seconds later. Melissa and Doug must have their own children who get bored on trips and released a line of reusable sticker books that apply to a special book and scenes to create brilliant pictures. Best of all, when the kids are done they can just peel them off and do it again.
Tablets and Kindles are popular choices for kids on the road, but there are other options that take interactivity to a new level. Leapfrog offers a line of educational games, learning toys and also tablets with kids in mind to work on everything from spelling to STEM activities. While your kids are having fun, you can even catch up on their learning from school without them realizing your ulterior educational motivate.
Magnetic Chess or Checkers
Chess and checkers are a timeless pastime that never seems to get old, but scrambling to find those missing pieces is a disaster for Mom and Dad. Pick-up the magnetic versions from Amazon where the pieces stick right to the board. This makes it a fun game for car or hotel play alike.
Even if it’s winter time, sand toys are a must-have addition for your vacation. They’re easy to clean up and can be used in endless ways. The obvious choice is at the beach, but you can also take them on a hike to collect treasures like rocks and acorns. And if all else fails, you can take them to a local playground and hit the sandbox before turning them into bathtub toys at your hotel.
Kids seem to gravitate toward paint, but even in controlled circumstances, that can be a nightmare for parents. Let your kids loose and get them creating with Water Wow Books. Just fill the pen up with water and as kids swipe them over the special books, they magically create a colorful landscape that will delight your kids.
Legos and building blocks are fun but get lost within seconds of handling. That’s why magnetic toys are all the rage for kid-friendly travel like Magbots. These fun wooden robots have hidden magnets inside so you can build them on the go without losing their heads and arms mid-flight.
There’s something super satisfying about the tactile stimulation of tape. But bringing along colorful masking tape and trying to art-direct a project on vacation can be frustrating for both Mom and kid alike. Just leave it to the experts instead and pick up Tape Books from Melissa and Doug that direct kids through fun activities to create trucks, houses and magical characters.
Get a travel-friendly toy that doubles as a stressbuster like Play-Doh. Kids can dig them out and squeeze and play with them on the road and make tiny figurines while sitting quietly. When you get to your hotel, get out molds or a small Play-Doh set and let them get busy on a table. Sure, it’s a little messy, but Play-Doh cleans up easy once it dries out and can be wiped away.
If your kid needs lots of different types of activities to keep them occupied, get a Car Valet and let their imaginations go wild. These handy cases are almost like a mini briefcase that zip up and are easy to stow when it’s time to go out and explore. But when kids are bored on the road, get it out and let them choose from mess-free markers, reusable stickers, snacks and tape to create and keep busy.
But if all else fails, just hit the Dollar Store before your next trip. Stock up on everything from paperclips to post-it notes, tiny tinker toys and bubbles and let your kids dive through their treasures and create as they go. The best part is if their stuff gets lost or broken, it’s easy to replace without the financial heartache.
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