If you have ever traveled with Children of any Age you will know how quickly your hair starts to turn gray, your head splits and your eyes almost cross. Besides the constant bickering and the ever present question of: “Are we there yet?”, not to mention the delightful: “I have to go potty now!” five minutes after you just left the latest Restroom, you also have to deal with the deep sighs of frustration from the Backseat as they wallow in Boredom and now entertain them-selves by driving you Batty.
Of course, should you be lucky enough to own one of those higher priced vehicles that come with all the latest technological DVD devices then you can just click off this article and go on to another episode in your life. If you are however like most of us that travel in less style, you may wish to continue reading on as my Teenager daughter and I bring you tips and tricks to keep your little or bigger Monsters entertained while traveling.
Ages 0- 2
You really don’t have to worry to much, just keep fresh Diapers on hand, a Bottle or Pacifier handy and a stuffed animal or for the really courageous ones a Rattle or other noise maker. Music works well too. I would however advice you against listening to music that can cause Earth Tremors in a Country next to yours.
Ages 3 – 5
This gets a bit harder, but not much. Just remember their Attention Span is a bit low. So you might have to switch it frequently. “I spy” is a time honored and tried game to play. Even the Youngest among us can play this delightful game of visual hide and seek. Story Games are fun too. For the really young ones make up stories and maybe sit in the back with them, (if you are not the Driver of course) and have hand puppets available to tell your own stories. For those a bit older you all can take turns making up stories. Tag you are it type Stories, in which one person starts and then after about 2 minutes someone else takes over and so on until the story is done, can be fun and educational. If you want to teach your kids the ABC, you might want to play name the animals. You have your kids learn the ABC by naming different Animals and at first tell you what letter they think it starts with then later have them name Animals in the ABC Order.
Ages 6 – 10
The Attention Span is a bit wider, but harder to capture. Here you have to keep them on their toes and might even bribe (eh reward) them. You can offer a Prize to the Winner of each of the following Games.
Twenty Questions. Believe me, Kids have no problem playing this game, it would almost be fair to say, it comes natural to them.
Find different States on the License Plates. Of course you can not play that in the Air, but there you might play it with a variation of Magazines. You have them find something that is in all the Magazines and they can not go on the next one until they are found it.
Name the States: Another wonderful Teaching Game. Have the kids name all the States in ABC Order or for the younger ones a certain amount of States.
Find words in the License Plates. You know that one I am sure, have the kids look at the License Plates and see what Words or Phrases they can come up with.
Of course you can have coloring books, crayons and regular story books on hand too.
Ages 11 to 14
Ok, here we are challenged. Not only do we have to deal with no attention span, but also no interest in doing anything you want them to do.
My Daughter (only being a couple years out of the oldest part) advices you that reversed psychology works best. How about daring them to be quiet for a certain amount of time and you will give the xyz? Here is an advice you might not like. Play along with them, who says you have to act all grown up, eventually when you ask them constantly if we are there yet they will get real tired of you. (Mean eh?). Books again, Puzzles, Nintendo Advance (a good investment), personal CD Players anything that gives them something they like to do. Advice by both of us, a set of headphones for each child unless you want to visit the hospital. Either for Brain Surgery or to have your foot removed from their ……anyway.
Seriously however, you can still play certain games with them as well. Here is your chance to see what they have learned. Have them name the Capitals to each State. Whoever gets it all right gets to pick the Dinner for that Night. “Of course you have to know them all your-self or you can play along. Write them down on a pad and see who is right.” I spy, still works but now it has to be a bit more advanced. I see something that starts with the letter ….and then you have to go by the ABC. How about keeping an Eye out for Typos in Signs on the Street. You be surprised what you can find there.
Ages 15 – 18
Who are you kidding! At this point it is a lost cause. You might as well just sit back and go for the ride. They will entertain them-selves and you, if you want to or not. However, you might want to earnestly practice the phrase: “Be QUIET!” in front of the mirror. Constantly (my daughter advices). Seriously however, music, books, personal gaming systems, HEADPHONES and ah yes….. FOOD!!!!! With teenagers, food is the key. If you feed them they keep their mouth shut, besides the sometimes loud chewing noises.
Another good news is, that at this point most of them no longer want to go on Vacation with you. They are now to cool for parents!
I hope that gave you a few Ideas.