Creative tips for traveling with kids

Low-tech entertainment for your next family vacation

As the season of family road trips and airplane travel approaches, it’s a good idea to have some fresh strategies ready to keep kids happy and occupied. Tablets and phones can be great in a pinch, but we love creative and interactive activities. Here are a few favorites:


Ask the kids to document the trip with an instant-print camera

Ocean Photos
You know, the old-fashioned kind. Introduce your kids to the joy of snapping a photo and waving it around in the air as you eagerly wait to see what develops.

Pro tip: You’ll want to ration the film – maybe even hide some extra in your bag – so you don’t run out before you’ve even left the driveway.


Create a collection with free (or nearly free) found items

Travel Bag
Anything from rocks, to sea glass, to coins, to flowers for pressing. Next, decide on some creative ways to catalog where you found each item and what it reminds you of.


Pack a journal/scrapbook with supplies

Butterflies on a Book
Give your child a journal for doodling, writing, and pasting in their photos. A blank book plus a glue stick, stickers, crayons and colored pencils for the younger set, and markers for older kids are all a good start.


Bring along a family mascot

Golddish in a Bowl
Pack something meaningful, but not priceless, like a photo of a pet who couldn’t make the trip or silly knickknack from home. Tote them along for funny photo ops and share their journey with family and friends.


Play some travel-friendly family games

Remember I-Spy? License-plate bingo? 20 questions? All of those car-trip classics are just as fun for kids now as they were back then, and they have the added benefit of engaging little imaginations.

Refresh your memory on how to play, and discover more games you may not know.

If you have the space, pack UNO, Go Fish, and Travel Yahtzee for more options.


Make a big deal out of little thrills

Kids are experts at this. The hotel elevator, the frog in the grass by the parking lot, the tiny swing set at the playground (rather than the over-the-top rides at the amusement park).

As every parent knows, the things you expect to make an impression are often not what kids are still talking about months and years later. And really, that’s part of the magic.

Step back whenever possible and let the kids take the lead. You may find it’s the key to your best vacation memories.

What are your suggestions for keeping everyone happy on a family trip?