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6 Easy Screen-Free Travel Activities For Kids

Now that Halloween has passed, we are hearing Christmas songs coming through TV ads, and turkeys are flying off the shelves at the grocery store. It’s officially the Holiday Season! And for many of us, that means holiday travel. For those with kids, this may elicit nightmares of cross-country airplane trips with screaming toddlers or hours packed into a van with siblings whose inability to form a peaceable coexistence makes hours stretch into days. Is it possible to arrive at your relatives’ front door on Thanksgiving or Christmas with your holiday cheer intact? “Sure,” you say, “but that means gluing my kids’ eyeballs to the iPad.” While a little extra screen time on long trips is a good way to pass the time, here are some tips for surviving the holiday travel season with your sanity and without screens.

1. Play visual games.

This works better for road trips than air travel, but especially with new flyers, there is a lot to observe in airports and on planes. Games like I Spy, the License Plate Alphabet Game, and Twenty Questions occupy a lot of time and will have your whole family engaged together. Here is a great list of twenty car games.

2. Bring new-to-them books.

Hit the library before a big trip and pick out several books. Pack them away so kids are not able to read them before takeoff. The novelty of new reads will be well worth the wait.

3. Dig out your favorite old-school toys.

There’s a reason toys like Etch A Sketch, Magna Doodle, Wooly Willy, and Rubik’s Cube are classics. These timeless games are durable, easy to pack, and tons of fun. Introduce them one at a time to maximize your mileage with each.

4. Provide a variety of snacks.

Think mess-free and slow-to-eat when it comes to travel snacks. Ideally, a snack break will pass time without leaving crumbs and sticky fingers. Suggestions include day-old bagels (a little dryness means slower snacking), raisins, granola bars, string cheese, carrots, and apple slices. Steer clear of sweets to avoid a sugar rush hitting while you’re confined to a small space.

5. Pack simple craft items.

Stickers, coloring books, pipe cleaners, yarn, construction paper, and a little creativity can go a long way. For road trips, cookie sheets can be used as lap trays; the rim will keep supplies from rolling off the edges.

6. Listen to audio books and radio theater.

Dramatic readings of old favorites and new stories are sure to provide hours of entertainment. A bonus is that most are captivating enough to entertain even the adults! For plane trips, load audio onto your phone or even pick up a cheap CD Walkman for kids to operate themselves. An earphone splitter is a good solution to evade fights when everyone wants to hear the same story.

Will you be traveling this holiday season? What tricks and tips do you have for passing the time?


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Chloe Renzema is the Content Marketing Coordinator at Tyndale House Publishers. Chloe grew up in Michigan where she developed her love of lakes and the outdoors. She is passionate about creating visually appealing content that communicates simply and clearly. In her free time Chloe enjoys running, reading, freelance graphic design work, and volunteering with YoungLife.

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