Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

The Road Tote

by Debra Vaughn

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Whether you are traveling for the summer, holidays or just because, anytime you have kids in the car for more than an hour, chances are you will hear “Are we there yet?” at least 20 times. So how do you keep the kids entertained while on a long, boring road trip? Make a Road Tote of Fun of course!

Find a sturdy box, brief case, old diaper bag or something else that the kids can easily tote around. You can usually find these types of carrying cases at yard sales or resale shops at a reasonably inexpensive price. Next, let the kids decorate it, after all, it is their tote. Each child should have their own tote so as to avoid arguments.

Some things that you or the kids may want to pack can include: Coloring books, crayons, a clip board with paper and colored pencils, story books, travel games, a walk man with tapes or CDs, a favorite toy such as a Barbie or G.I. Joe, cards, a map, crossword puzzles, a journal or anything else that your child would like to bring. You should put in place a standing rule, if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go. This will help you conserve room in an over-packed car while allowing room in the back seat for elbows and legs.

Some more things that you can take with you are a piece of paper covered in clear contact paper, crayons, and a rag. Viola! A dry erase board! A glue stick, scissors and a notebook to collect clip art from the rest stops along the way will make a great scrap book so kids can remember your trip. Don’t forget to include a small bag of snacks and juice. This can either be separate or included in the tote.

You can also grab the questions from a trivia game and take them along to keep the adults or older kids brains working. Believe me when I tell you that this helps to prevent road hypnosis when driving. Also, don’t forget to sing, tell jokes and play the traditional games like I Spy, The License Plate Game, 20 Questions, and What am I?

Debra Vaughn is a stay-at-home mother to 3 young girls. She is a freelance writer in her spare time.

Travel Journals

by Dionna Sanchez

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Travel journals are a fun and memorable way to teach your children to record life’s memorable moments as they travel. A Travel Journal is similar to a regular journal. You can use a binder and insert notebook paper – or buy a hard bound journal book. Every time you go on a vacation – whether it is a road trip or by airplane – bring the travel journals with you. Write down what you see and experience, what you learn about the city or country you are visiting and insert postcards, brochures and pictures from the trip. Older children can write in their own journals while younger children can tell you what they want you to write for them. Travel Journals not only encourage writing skills, they are a wonderful activity to entertain your children while they travel. As the books fill up – what wonderful memories and warm feelings they will be filled with! You might want to start one for yourself too! I have:)

Dionna Sanchez is Editor of Emphasis On Moms. Emphasis strives to encourage moms not only as parents, but also as individual women. Visit Emphasis at

Car Travel Activities for Kids

by Laurel Smith

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Time flies when you’re having fun – The miles fly by too! You can make a long family car trip seem a lot shorter if you have fun with your kids along the way. Plan ahead with a few car activities, and making the journey can be as much fun as the destination. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Make a Trip-Journal or Scrapbook

Give everyone a big spiral bound sketchpad and a box of crayons or markers. Each day of the trip or for each event along the way, draw a picture of what you did that day, or draw a map of where you went, and write about it. You can also paste in souvenirs.

Get a Good Songbook With All the Lyrics

It surprising how many songs you think you know, but you don’t really know all the words. Have a singing marathon and learn the old classics by heart.

Give Your Kids an Allowance for the Day

Tell them that this money is for snacks, treats, souvenirs etc. Help them learn to budget their money and make good choices.

Let Your Children Have a Map

Give your kids their own copy of a map of where you are going. Show them how far you have come, how much further there is to go and let them mark it with a crayon. Every time someone asks “How much further?” let them see for themselves. You might also like to get a compass and show them how it works along with the map.

Have Bubble Gum Blowing Contests

The weirder the gum the better. Get it at the rest areas and try all the different flavors.

The License Plate Game

Print a U.S. map off the computer and color in the states as you see license plates from each one. See if you can get all 50 states between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You might even record the time and date and the state where you saw it. This can be a family project as you build your “collection” of license plates together.

Cats Cradle or String Loops

You just need a piece of string for this one. See if you can make “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Kitty Whiskers”, or play Cats Cradle!

Magnetic Board Games

Do your children know how to play classic board games like Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, or Chinese Checkers? What better time to learn than in the car to pass the time! The magnetic car versions of these games are nice because they are small and compact, and have easy ways to store the pieces so they don’t get lost.

Counting Cows

Count the cows you see on your side of the car. If you pass a cemetery on your side of the car, you lose all your cows. The one with the most cows wins.

Read Out Loud

This passes the time quickly in the car for the reader and for the family members who are listening.

Lego Contest

Have a contest to see who can build the best item that relates to where you are going. Use a shoebox to store the Legos, or large zip lock bags.

Guess How Far Away That Is

Pick an object and have everyone guess how far away it is, then clock it on your odometer.

Play Favorites

Have everyone think of different “favorite” questions for the group. What’s your favorite… movie, flavor of ice cream, song, game, toy, place to visit, restaurant, book, animal, fish, etc. Be creative and don’t forget to ask the driver too!

Aluminum Art

Give everyone a sheet of aluminum foil. Have them mold it into anything they want: animal shapes, Frisbees, balls, jewelry, crowns, headband, necklaces and masks. Be creative. It’s inexpensive fun and easy to clean up. Toddlers love this one too.

Remember that it’s sometimes nice to sit in the back of the van with your kids while Dad is doing the driving and play some games right along side them. You might be surprised at how much fun you have too. Happy travels!

Laurel Smith is a former schoolteacher and currently a stay-at-home-mom who has logged thousands of road trip miles both as a kid and a mom. If you pass her on the highway, you might catch her singing loudly in her minivan while her three children sing backup. Visit her website for more than 101 travel games and activities for kids at

Pack Your Car the Night Before!

by Laurel Smith

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“Pack your car the night before!” I said.

I told this to my brother before his 7 hour drive to meet us at the beach for Thanksgiving, but of course, being my “little” brother, he did not listen. He thought he could pack his wife, two young children and all their cribs, strollers, snacks, toys, car seats and suitcases in the morning before they left. As a result, they didn’t get on the road until noon!

Seriously, packing the car the night before a big trip accomplishes several things. First, it allows you to pack at a leisurely pace so you are not rushed and panicked, leaving you stressed out just before you get behind the wheel. You will be able to hop in the car cheerfully rested and relaxed in the morning with your coffee in hand, more able to enjoy the journey, and with more patience to keep the kids happy.

Second, it gives you more time to think about what you have packed so you don’t forget anything, and so you can decide whether you really need to bring certain things. This really helps alleviate that “I wonder if I forgot something” feeling that everyone gets when they are about 30 miles into a 300 mile drive.

Next, it allows you to plan better for games and travel activities you want to bring, and what snacks to bring. This will save you money and time on the road if you can bring lunch with you, and save you sanity if you have planned well to keep the kids busy.

One final bonus is that it might buy you a couple of hours of quiet time at the beginning of your drive. This is well worth it! Many times when we have left for long trips early in the morning, we literally picked the kids up out of their beds, took them to the potty and put them in the car — pajamas and all. If we were lucky they often slept a couple more hours before we had an easy breakfast break in the car (usually cereal mix or granola bars) and a clothing change at our first gas stop.

With safety in mind, think about where you keep your car before you pack it. Since we keep our minivan in the garage, we feel safe having our stuff in the car overnight. If your car is outside, you might feel better piling it all up inside near the door the night before. It will still only take a moment to toss it all in if you’ve got it all ready to go ahead of time.

Packing the night before will help you get on the road sooner which means you’ll arrive at your destination sooner!

Laurel Smith is a former schoolteacher and currently a stay-at-home-mom who has logged thousands of road trip miles both as a kid and a mom. If you pass her on the highway, you might catch her singing loudly in her minivan while her three children sing backup. Visit her website for more than 101 travel games and activities for kids at

200+ Ideas for Summertime — or Anytime — Fun!

by Deborah Taylor-Hough

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Since we don’t use the phrase “I’m bored!” in our home, we never hear our kids complaining about being bored during those long days at home during the summer months. But … I have to admit that we’re still an incredibly normal family.

Even without the “b-word” in their vocabulary, there are still those times when my three children (ages 16, 12 and 8) just seem to be at a total loss for something constructive to do.

On one of those “I-can’t-think-of-anything-to-do” days, I had my children sit down and make a list of everything they could do completely on their own without parental help. After they brainstormed about it for over an hour (which was a good anti-boredom activity itself), the kids had a list of about fifty activities. Surprisingly, they even included a few household chores like dusting and weeding! I decided to ask for input from some other moms, and now my children have a list of over two hundred ideas to beat summertime boredom, and the list just seems to keep growing.

Thanks to the suggestion of one mom, we’ve put each item on this list onto individual pieces of paper, placed the papers into a container, and when the children need inspiration for an activity, they draw two or three papers and then decide which idea they want to do, either as a group or individually. The mom who suggested pulling ideas out of a container told me she found this method more helpful than giving the kids a huge list of possibilities. By narrowing the choices down to just two or three, it was easier for the kids to pick out the one that sounded the best to them.


In no particular order, here’s our current (but continually growing!) list of activities:
1) ride bikes
2) roller blade
3) basketball
4) play board games
5) make a tent out of blankets
6) squirt with hoses
7) run through the sprinkler
8) jump rope
9) read books
10) blow bubbles
11) make homemade play dough
12) play with play dough
13) press flowers
14) do crafts with pressed flowers
15) write a letter to a relative, friend or pen pal
16) clean bedroom
17) vacuum livingroom
18) clean bathroom
19) make a craft
20) draw
21) color
22) paint
23) pull weeds
24) watch a movie
25) write stories
26) use binoculars
27) use magnifying glass
28) use microscope
29) bird watching
30) write a play
31) act out a play
32) invent circus acts
33) perform a circus
34) play card games
35) make art on the front walkway with sidewalk chalk
36) play catch
37) play baseball
38) collect rocks
39) collect leaves
40) collect feathers
41) play Frisbee
42) make Frisbee’s out of old plastic lids, decorate with markers
43) dust the house
44) brush the pet
45) write letters
46) read a magazine
47) play dress-up
48) play Cowboys
49) pick vegetables
50) play outside with the pet
51) build a fort in your rooms
52) build a fort in the backyard
53) do a jigsaw puzzle
54) play on the Geosafari
55) play on the computer
56) listen to a story or book on tape
57) do extra schoolwork to get ahead
58) do brain teasers (ie: crosswords, word searches, hidden pictures, mazes, etc.)
59) cook
60) prepare lunch
61) surprise a neighbor with a good deed
62) play store
63) prepare a “restaurant” lunch with menus
64) hold a tea party
65) have a Teddy bear picnic
66) play with toy cars
67) play dolls
68) play house
69) chase butterflies
70) collect caterpillars and bugs
71) plant a garden or a pot
72) collect seeds
73) hunt for four-leaf clovers
74) learn magic tricks
75) put on a magic show
76) plant a container garden
77) sprout seeds or beans
78) make sock puppets
79) put on a puppet show
80) make Christmas presents
81) make homemade wrapping paper
82) make homemade gift cards
83) make picture frames from twigs glued onto sturdy cardboard
84) crochet or knit
85) make doll clothes
86) sew buttons in designs on old shirts
87) run relay races
88) make bookmarks
89) take a quiet rest time
90) take a shower or bath
91) bathe a pet
92) feed the birds or squirrels
93) watch the clouds
94) organize a dresser drawer
95) clean under the bed
96) empty dishwasher
97) vacuum under the couch cushions and keep any change found
98) write these ideas on pieces of paper and pick out one or two to do
99) whittle
100) whittle bars of soap
101) practice musical instruments
102) perform a family concert
103) teach yourself to play musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)
104) fold laundry
105) sweep kitchen or bathroom floors
106) sweep front walkway
107) sweep or spray back patio
108) sweep or spray driveway
109) wash car
110) vacuum car
111) vacuum or dust window blinds
112) clean bathroom mirrors
113) clean sliding glass doors
114) clean inside of car windows
115) wash bicycles
116) clean garage
117) play in the sandbox
118) build a sandcastle
119) work with clay
120) copy your favorite book illustration
121) design your own game
122) build with blocks or Legos
123) create a design box (copper wire, string, odds-and- ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)
124) plan a neighborhood or family Olympics
125) have a marble tournament
126) paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper and hang it in a sunny window and see what happens in a few days
127) finger paint with pudding
128) make dessert
129) make dinner
130) give your pet a party
131) paint the sidewalk with water
132) start a journal of summer fun
133) start a nature diary
134) have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling
135) have a neighborhood bike wash
136) play flashlight tag
137) play Kick the Can
138) check out a science book and try some experiments
139) make up a story
140) arrange photo albums
141) find bugs and start a collection
142) do some stargazing
143) decorate bikes or wagons and have a neighborhood parade
144) catch butterflies and then let them go
145) play hide-and-seek
146) create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubber bands
147) listen to the birds sing
148) try to imitate bird calls
149) read a story to a younger child
150) find shapes in the clouds
151) string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace
152) glue noodles into a design on paper
153) play hopscotch
154) play jacks
155) make up a song
156) make a teepee out of blankets
157) write in your journal
158) find an ant colony and spill some food and watch what happens
159) play charades
160) make up a story by drawing pictures
161) draw a cartoon strip
162) make a map of your bedroom, house or neighborhood
163) call a friend
164) cut pictures from old magazines and write a story
165) make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines
166) do a secret service for a neighbor
167) plan a treasure hunt
168) make a treasure map
169) make up a “Bored List” of things to do
170) plan a special activity for your family
171) search your house for items made in other countries and then learn about those countries from the encyclopedia or online
172) plan an imaginary trip to the moon
173) plan an imaginary trip around the world, where would you want to go
174) write a science-fiction story
175) find a new pen pal
176) make up a play using old clothes as costumes
177) make up a game for practicing math facts
178) have a Spelling Bee
179) make up a game for practicing spelling
180) surprise an elderly neighbor or relative by weeding his/her garden
181) fingerpaint with shaving cream
182) collect sticks and mud and build a bird’s nest
183) write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper
184) put together a family newsletter
185) write reviews of movies or plays or tv shows or concerts you see during the summer
186) bake a cake
187) bake a batch of cookies
188) decorate a shoe box to hold your summer treasures
189) make a hideout or clubhouse
190) make paper airplanes
191) have paper airplane races
192) learn origami
193) make an obstacle course in your backyard
194) make friendship bracelets for your friends
195) make a wind chime out of things headed for the garbage
196) paint your face
197) braid hair
198) play tag
199) make a sundial
200) make food sculptures (from pretzels, gumdrops, string licorice, raisins, cream cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, etc.) and then eat it
201) make a terrarium
202) start a club
203) take a nap outside on your lawn
204) produce a talent show
205) memorize a poem
206) recite a memorized poem for your family

Have a wonderful summer! (And for all you people in the Southern Hemisphere, feel free to save this article for December reading!)