Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tips for Traveling with Kids: Forestalling the Inevitable Question "Are We There Yet?"

A couple of weeks ago I was driving back from a weekend trip with three other friends. We were just generally gabbing when Linda suggested we play the game 20 Questions.  I halfheartedly agreed, but as we took turns, I found myself really getting into it and laughing pretty hard, especially when Janice claimed to be thinking of a four-legged insect. Hmm...I'm a bit of a bug freak and I'm pretty sure that didn't sound right.  She thought bees only had four legs!

In addition to helping to pass the time more quickly on long car trips, verbal games are a great way to take advantage of being "stuck" together with family or friends. Instead of automatically turning to cell phones or other electronic devices, take some time on a road trip to engage everyone in conversation and fun with verbal games. Car games can help kids think creatively, improve memory, and develop communication skills. And besides, I could use a little of that myself as an adult.

In addition to 20 Questions there are many popular car games. I Spy is always a favorite. The person spying says, "I spy with my little eye, something that begins with the letter A."  I Spy can be hard in a moving car unless you focus on objects out on the horizon. One game I really like is  Grocery Store or Picnic List which follows along with the alphabet. The first person begins by saying, "I went to the grocery store for apples. The second person goes to the grocery store for something beginning with the letter B, such as bananas, and then has to remember what item the letter A was.  So the game builds with players having to remember an increasingly long list of alphabetical items, up to the letter Z. It's a great memory game.

Another interesting one is for a player to think of a famous person or character. Other players guess who it is by asking yes or no questions such as, "Is this person living or dead, an actor, someone famous, etc.?" A story-go-round is always fun too with each successive person adding a line to a tale that can get pretty far fetched and funny.

If you're traveling with older children, have them keep track of the trip with a detailed map. Perhaps they could read interesting facts from guidebooks about the area.  Or ask kids look up interesting things to stop for along the way or discover what they might want to do once you get to your destination.

For real boredom in the car, nothing beats a pillow and blanket for a nap. I know car trips can really lull me to sleep like a baby if I'm not driving. I always enjoy packing our favorite snacks and beverages too. I'm not advocating junk food, but it's a great excuse for  it. 

I like to make everyone get out of the car at rest stops for a Chinese Fire Drill, run around and touch their toes ten times. It gets the circulation going. And no matter how much your daughter claims she does not need to go to the bathroom, believe me, she needs to go. My motto is to never pass up a good bathroom.

Got plane, train or automobile vacation plans this summer? Fundamentally Toys is happy to help you plan ahead and anticipate the age-old question of "Are we there yet?" We have lots of great travel-sized toys and games you can take along (and even a little free advice) to make your trips relaxing and fun!

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