This post is a sister post to one I wrote about traveling with intense kids.
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When we travel, we don’t tend to have lots of extra room. Our Mazda5 has very little cargo room, and airplane trips have their own constraints. For that reason, we’ve gotten pretty creative and flexible in the types of things we pack to get the most value for our little spaces.
We love card games. They take so little room and are very flexible. While we don’t get these out in the car, they’re nice for hotels, airport waiting areas, etc. because they’re quiet(ish) and don’t typically require much room.
- The Cat the Hat I Can Do That card game is great for 3-6 year olds, especially when needing to get those wiggles out in a hotel room.
- We just discovered the game There’s a Moose in the House – a fun, interactive game where there can be multiple winners or ties. It says for 8 & up on the packaging, but we just played it with two 6yos this weekend, and it worked great.
- Think Fun as a 4 pack of classic card games – Crazy Eights, Old Maid, Hearts, and Animal Rummy that would probably also round out a good collection. We played a modified version of Crazy Eights with my 3yos, and they can handle Old Maid too.
We also pack a couple items that get kids running when they have a chance to get outside. For a car trip, a small bottle of bubbles is great (or pick one up at the local drug store along the way). We also love our Aerobie. It’s easier to throw than a Frisbee and doesn’t hurt as much if it hits you. Plus, its slimline design means that it backs so easily to take anywhere. I tend to also keep a pack of balloons in my purse or diaper bag. You blow one (or more) up and have an instant party with the the under 8 crowd! (and their parents, too!)
For books, I like to get half-sized books and flashcards. They’re easier for the kids to hold and work with in cramped quarters. Usborne has a wonderful variety of options for sticker and doodle books in their pocket books sets. Contact your local consultant, or search on their website — or I often get their stuff used on Amazon or Ebay.
For snacks, these Rubbermaid Mini Takealongs are just the right size for prepackaging dry snacks, dried fruits, and even peas or grapes.
We’ve recently also discovered magnetic tins, which are great for the pincer grip once you’re out of the putting everything in the mouth stage.
And for car trips, the Etch-A-Sketch is still a classic, as are audio books, pipe cleaners, and plain old colored pencils and activity books.
We try to limit tablet time and video games because they cause our sensitive kids’ brains to go into overdrive, which can lead to meltdowns of various sorts.
All in all, we’ve found that we need less than we think we do. Travel in and of itself is exciting enough. The highlight of last weekend’s drive home from Pennsylvania? Eating Sargento Cheese Sticks while driving next to a big Sargento cheese truck. That thing was cool.