Keeping Kids Entertained on Vacation

Lisa Fritscher October 14, 2014 No Comments

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Dressing up in silly costumes is a great way to entertain kids.

Some families spend their vacation lounging on the beach. Others go hard sightseeing from early until late. No matter how active your family is, odds are good that at some point your kids will start whining about being bored. Keeping kids entertained can feel challenging, especially when you just want to relax, but advance planning can smooth the process.

New Stuff
It seems to be a fact of childhood that new stuff is always better than the things you already have. Play into this by purchasing some new toys, books, games, stickers and other small items in the weeks before your trip. These don’t need to be big or expensive, as the newness will make them exciting. Even dollar store items work well for most kids.

Divide the new stuff into small bags. When you know your kids are likely to be bored, such as on a plane or while waiting for a show to start, give them one bag. A fun idea for situations where you are sitting near other people at night, perhaps waiting for fireworks, is a bunch of glow sticks. They can pass some out to the kids sitting around them, breaking the ice with potential playmates.

Snacks
Time passes faster when you have something fun to focus on, so stock up on some playful treats. Of course, it’s always fun to try new things at your destination, such as lobster rolls in the Northeast or Dole Whips at Disney. Still, keeping a supply of snacks on hand keeps costs down and gives you something immediate that doesn’t require waiting in line.

If your family prefers healthy treats, search the Internet before your trip to find recipes for things that pack well. Many tourist destinations have worked hard to introduce healthier snack options, but they haven’t all caught up with today’s varied diets.

Games

Board games are a great way to wind down each evening.
photo by Peter Griffin

Dad and I recently spent a week in a condo with various friends and relatives. We took a variety of board games, which turned out to be a great way to wind down each evening. A deck of cards is easy to pack and extremely versatile. Even a pack of Post-It notes can turn into a fantastic guessing game.

Road trip games have been around for decades, and they are still a lot of fun in today’s always-connected age. Try looking for out of state license plates, playing the Alphabet Game, and other tried-and-true family fun.

Allowing some electronics time can make vacations run more smoothly.
photo by George Hodan

Electronics
Kids and electronics are a highly controversial issue, but there is no question that allowing some electronics time can make the vacation run more smoothly for both you and the kids. Set reasonable limits, such as requiring your child to spend a certain amount of his tablet time reading instead of playing games. Or turn it into a family bonding opportunity by plugging into the TV and watching a favorite movie or television series.

Imagination
Even in the digital age, imagination remains the most powerful boredom buster of all. Dress up in silly costumes. Make up games. Draw pictures. Tell a collaborative story in which each person gets one minute to give their contribution. It doesn’t matter exactly what you do, only that you stretch your imaginations together.

Journaling
Encourage your kids to keep a trip journal. Depending on their ages and interests, they might collect items for scrapbooking, draw pictures of the things around them, or write essays on what they did each day. Keeping a journal not only gives them something to do in the moment, but provides a tangible souvenir that is far more descriptive than photographs. It also helps them practice their powers of observation and hone their creative writing skills.

Making Their Own Fun

Kids are naturally creative, and usually entertain themselves.
photo by Peter Griffin

Not too long ago, kids were sent outside every summer morning to play until the street lights came on. While that isn’t a realistic option on vacation in today’s world, there is something to be said for allowing kids a certain amount of unstructured boredom. Kids are naturally creative, and they will eventually find a way to entertain themselves. Unless your kids are very small, don’t be afraid to retreat into your bedroom and instruct them not to bother you for an hour or two.

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Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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