Travel and Play: Making It Work for Your Family

This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of The Genius of Play, a non-profit organization with the mission of encouraging families to make play part of their day. All fun opinions are my own.

We love to travel. If you’ve been following my blog for any time now, you know that to be true of our crew. Whether it’s in the air, on the sea, or over the hills, we are on the go more often than not. Sometimes when we travel, especially on long road trips, I forget to take meaningful breaks. I’m always so eager to get there I forget that the 2 little people in the back may need to get their energy out. There is only so much one can stand of another DVD, am I right? And since sleep is usually out of the question for those two, the only way we can really get the girls to lessen their whining in the car is to allow for plenty of energy releasing time. Try these tips on for size the next time you travel, and I guarantee there will be less squeaking from the peanut gallery!Traveling doesn't have to mean an end to play! Check out my best tips for getting creative in the car, train, or plane while you travel. I've also got great tips for how to play as a family when you reach your destination. AD

Travel and Play

We take advantage of electronics for as long as we can, but sometimes our travels can be 8+ hours, so that doesn’t usually last us too long. There’s also the conundrum of what to do once we arrive at our destination. Before the cries of “I’m bored!” ring loudly in your ears, check out these great ideas from our family and from Genius of Play:

For the Car

  • Auto Alphabet: write down each letter of the alphabet on a piece of paper. Have children look around in or out of the car for items that start with each letter. 
  • Sounds Familiar: have one person start the game by humming a familiar tune. Whoever guesses correctly gets the next turn. You could even play songs on your mobile device or radio and guess!
  • Self Portrait: have your child look in the mirror and draw a picture of themselves or each other (maybe even the parents)!
  • Charades: have each child act out a favorite character, animal, person, etc.
  • Guess What: have children, or non-driving parent, draw a picture and have the other child guess what it is.

For the Destination

  • Red light, Green light
  • Hide and Seek
  • Freeze Game (dancing or playing tag are our favorites)
  • Bottle Bowling (this is a great way to make use of those empty cups and cans that seem to accumulate on road trips)
  • Simon Says

Travel and play can coincide with breaks for the whole family. There are so many options for engaging children, even while they’re strapped in their carseats! I find that if we vary our activities (drawing time, movie time, guessing game time, etc.) things tend to not get so boring so quickly. 

Benefits of Play

While you won’t catch me knocking all the amazing technology kids have at their fingertips today, there is something about good, old fashioned playtime that just can’t be beat. The Genius of Play lists 6 amazing benefits of play for kids:

  • Physical: coordination, balance, motor skills
  • Emotional: coping with emotions, developing empathy and understanding
  • Social: collaboration with a group, compromise, 
  • Cognitive: learning to think, read, remember, and pay attention
  • Creative: encouraging unique ideas and new solutions to challenges
  • Communication: learning to exchange information by signals, speech, writing, or action

Travel and play means looking for playgrounds wherever you are.These benefits are key to raising a well-rounded child, and they are great for parents too! Teach your kids valuable skills like creativity and communication will go a long way to making them a successful adult. Encouraging play is also helpful for parents as it teaches kids to have fun without an adult around for every single second of the day. I love watching my kids and their friends come up with the craziest make believe scenarios! It gives me great hope for our future when I see kids playing together and working through the various aspects of play.

Expert Advice

Looking for more ways to raise great kids? Check out the Expert Advice section of The Genius of Play website. Featuring advice from men and women who have professional and personal experience with play, there isn’t a topic you won’t find help on. I’m a big believer in unstructured play time and self-directed play, but you can find a variety of ideas on what, how, when, and where to encourage play in your homes, schools, and communities.Travel and play have evolved over time. What’s your favorite way to encourage play in your family? I’d love to hear your best ideas here in the comments or by messaging me on Facebook and Twitter!