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Morning Sun
  • EXTENSION CONNECTION: Travel activities for young children

  • Traveling with young children on family vacations during the coming summer months can create frustrations for both the children and adults if not prepared for the trip. But with preplanning and a little creativity, travel time may become part of the fun of the trip which provides quality family time spent together.

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  • Traveling with young children on family vacations during the coming summer months can create frustrations for both the children and adults if not prepared for the trip. But with preplanning and a little creativity, travel time may become part of the fun of the trip which provides quality family time spent together.
    If you are traveling with an infant or toddler, you may want to consider traveling at night. This way they may sleep through most of the trip. Just make sure the driver is rested and prepared for nighttime driving. Pack an adequate supply of formula, diapers  and change of clothing within easy access throughout the trip, as sleep is not a guarantee.
    For older children, pack an activity bag or box. Provide each child with their own bag in which they can select books and quiet games to pack for the trip.
    For preschoolers, pack an extra ‘surprise’ box or bag. Stock it with games, books and snacks which the children do not see ahead of time. Set a designated time, say at each half hour or after every sixty miles when the ‘surprise’ box is open to reveal a new activity or snack. Great items to include are activity books, magnetic travel games, stickers, note pads, and small snack packets.
    For school age children, travel time can provide a chance to teach money management and budgeting skills. At the start of the trip, give each child a designated amount of money to spend on the trip. This may be used for snacks and souvenirs along the trip. To help them learn budgeting skills, suggest souvenirs which are appropriate and in the price range of the amount of money they each have. To learn budgeting, they need to learn that this allowance is to last for the length of the trip.
    If you do not wish to use actual money with very young children, you may want to give each child a bag of plastic chips. These can be used for items in one of your surprise boxes that you designate as the ‘country store’. To encourage good behavior while traveling, you may want to issue more chips when travel is going well to be used in the ‘country store’ box.
    Also, think of  family fun games you can play along the way that do not require extra packing and preparation ahead of time. Start with a list of car games that you played as a child such as 20 Questions, I Spy, or even license plate identification. Play the Alphabet game by either finding items along the countryside or on road signs which start with each letter of the alphabet. Make a list of silly songs that the whole family can sing along together.
    Though your destination may be across the country or just across town, time spent as travel time can provide quality family time together with a little preparation and planning.
    Page 2 of 2 - For additional information, contact the Wildcat Extension District, Crawford County, 620-724-8233, Labette County, 620-784-5337, Montgomery County, 620-331-2690, Pittsburg Office, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP), 620-232-1930.
    K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
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