Freckles in April: Summer Traveling with Kids- 6 Things that Entertain WITHOUT Technology

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Traveling with Kids- 6 Things that Entertain WITHOUT Technology

We are traveling a LOT this summer. I actually counted the days my kids are out of school and the days we will be traveling and we are gone 45% of the time. Normally we're pretty lucky if we have a couple weekend getaways the whole summer!

Our trips include a LOT of travel time. Last week we spent 14+ hours on planes getting to and from the Bahamas and in July we are taking a 3 week road trip which includes daily drives of 1-6 hours. Figuring out how to entertain my kids while traveling has been on my mind a bit (understatement).

There will be pleeeenty of screen time involved (more on that in another post) but we also really try to get our kids engaged in technology-free entertainment as much as possible. Here are some of the fun things we've packed along so far-

1. Story drawing pads, fresh colored pencils and a pencil sharpener | Stinky got one of these a while back from the grandparents and it has been SO fantastic for writing practice that I bought two more for our trips this summer. There's a space at the top for drawing a picture then lines below for writing about the picture. Stinky (who is going into 2nd grade) can write his own creative sentences about his pictures. Baby 2 (going into kindergarten this year) asks for help spelling a lot of words but he's getting pretty good at sounding things out and I've been impressed at his sentences as well.

Stinky's picture from one of our rainy days in the Bahamas

2. Rubik's Cube | This was THE hot toy on Stinky's bus toward the end of the year and he finally saved enough money to buy one. Both my boys loooove this thing and it keeps them happy for hours. We've watched a few YouTube videos to give them some basic skills and now they can each solve single sides (we're working up to the full cube).

3. Library books | Where's Waldo? is great for both boys (our library also had a Lego version the last time we went and that was a hit at our house for over a week). Stinky is really into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Magic Tree House books.

4. Math books | I'm really trying to help them keep their skills sharp over the summer so we brought along two math books. Ours were ones that Stinky got in K and 1st grades (Baby 2 can do most of the kindergarten one, which sort of surprised me) but we've also got Bedtime Math and some Brain Quest stuff, both of which are awesome.

5. Toy cars | For my boys toy cars are a recipe for at least an hour of entertainment. Especially if they've got books they can make ramps out of.

6. Uno | This is such a fantastic game- it's easy enough for my kids to play on their own but it's still fun for adults so Aaron and I don't usually mind joining in for a couple rounds if we're not otherwise engaged.

I'd like to give an honorable mention to the Rainbow Loom. Stinky freaking loves his Rainbow Loom that he got for Christmas a couple years ago and he keeps wanting to bring it along but we don't have a good organizational system (all his bands are just in an open bin right now and I had visions of them scattering EVERYWHERE on the plane or in the car). If you're willing to shell out for one of those fancy storage containers then I think this could also be a good one!

What are you fav tech-free ways to keep your kids entertained on long trips? I'm especially interested in car-friendly ideas!


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  1. i don't have any kids, but growing up we would play the alphabet game (trying to find all the letters of the alphabet starting at "a" on signs, trucks, license plates, etc.), and the license plate game where we'd keep track of the different state plates we were seeing and at the end of the trip see how many states we had seen. my mom would also tell us stories in the car from classic books - les mis, the three musketeers, secret garden, etc - and sometimes play parts of a soundtrack if applicable. she'd break it up into smaller sections so she wasn't just talking for hours, and she'd dumb it down for us when we were little.

    oh, and is it ridiculously sad that when i draw trees they look a lot like stinky's? an artist i am not.

  2. I wrote a comment but it looks like it went away when I logged in so delete if this is a repeat!

    I love these ideas especially the colored pencils. I made the rookie mistake of bringing crayons on our first toddler road trip and it was a melted mess everywhere. Our German friend just sent us these cute pencil pouches with colored pencils and a sharpener in each so it was good timing!

    My kids also like little dollhouse people (I think they are Plan Toys brand?) for pretend play. And sticker books.

  3. Also any time we go to the dentist and get a little cheap Chinese made toy I put it away in a bag for travel. I always hated those things all over my house so this way they are not around and I don't have to go to the Dollar Store for those things like all the other blogs suggest (I wouldn't do that anyways, actually).

  4. I LOVED Brain Quest growing up (I'm kinda surprised they're still making them - I was doing them like 15 years ago...) so keep chugging ahead with those, since you can keep getting the next "grade" up.

  5. Big bag of pipe cleaners...lots of entertainment on the road!

  6. Also yours are maybe not old enough but these are awesome. And these

  7. Hey, this is great for our cross-country drive! Where are you guys going for 3 weeks? I'm sure you have some, but we'll be doing looots of audiobooks. And car songs.

  8. Maybe try some sort of fishing tackle box for rainbow loom stuff in the car. Check at Walmart.


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