Travelling with Children? What to Pack in the Activity Bag

Filed under: Holidays, Amazing Kids, Books for Kids, Cabin Fever

A couple of years ago, my husband and I flew with three children, ages 5, 4, and 14 months, to Nicaragua, one of the least-developed countries in the Americas. It is also stunningly beautiful, wild and friendly, its varied geography pock-marked by volcanoes and lakes, lush with rainforest and sandy ocean beaches. To ensure safe travel, we'd gotten immunizations (screaming children), packed emergency antibiotics, and re-hydration salts.

In the days leading up to our departure, my to-do lists had to-do lists.

But the question we were asked most often was: What the heck are you going to do with the kids all day long?

I had the answer: the well-appointed activity bag. And while we didn't need to dive into it at every moment of every day (digging in wet sand beside crashing ocean waves pretty much solves all entertainment issues), there were many other moments when it served as our survival kit.An activity bag can serve many purposes, whether travelling abroad, driving to visit grandparents, or even just providing entertainment during those inevitable restless holiday moments (say, post-Boxing-Day-dinner at a relative's toy-less home).

Your bag should have handles, and be portable. Optionally, a backpack works well, too, though I like being able to see what's inside at a glance. Choose items that aren't too heavy (paperbacks rather than hardcovers). We keep our bag packed and ready in the front hallway, and I frequently rotate and freshen its contents.

For a particularly long journey, consider stocking the activity bag with a couple of new, never-before-seen items. Dole everything out slowly, and keep the best up your sleeve. Include something special for each child.

Here are eight tried-and-true ideas that you can add to your own Grab-and-Go Activity Bag:

1. A small Ziploc bag containing any of the following: crayons, pencils, sharpener, glue stick, pipe cleaners, tape, scissors (though if you're flying, leave the scissors at home).

2. Colouring books; plain paper; construction paper.

3. Reading material: paperback picture books for younger readers, and chapter books for older children; children's magazines.

4. Small toys like matchbox cars or play figures; a Rubik's cube; a Mini-Etch-a-Sketch; finger puppets.

5. Maps. Especially entertaining if children can follow your travel route.

6. A deck of playing cards.

7. Pokemon cards (or hockey, or baseball, or whatever your child is into).

8. Interactive activity books: there is such a variety available! There are lift-the-flap books, search-and-finds, sticker books, books of mazes and brain teasers. Klutz publishes some great offerings, including these two new titles: Super Simple Sewing, which includes all the materials needed to sew a bracelet, a purse, and a backpack decoration (ages 4 and up); and How To Draw Funny, which has drawing tools, a stencil, and pages of trace-on-the-page instructions to entertain budding cartoonists (ages 8 and up).

May your adventures be safe, happy, and boredom-free!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.