Family Travel Tips: Keeping Kids Unplugged and Entertained

by Gina Dobson

With the end of the school year looming and summertime just around the corner, family travel season will soon be upon us. Any parent knows that planning a trip with young children means extra work and special arrangements. While you might initially think of using iPod apps or DVDs to combat boredom on your next long car trip with your kids, here are two quick, easy and inexpensive ways to keep them unplugged, entertained, AND encourage some family fun at the same time.

Silly Faces

Surprise your kids with the opportunity to alter their appearance however they wish with the sweep of a pen. They can turn themselves into a pirate, a princess, a monster or a cowboy. How do you do this?

Materials needed:
– A camera
– A computer and printer
– Posterboard, cardboard or other stiff paper
– Clear contact paper (can be purchased from Amazon.com for under $3)
– A dry erase pen

Step 1: Take a picture of your child wearing a plain white shirt against a white background. The photo should be framed as a head and shoulders shot with plenty of background space left behind you.

Step 2: Print out the photo sized 8×10 on plain paper.

Step 3: Glue, tape or staple photo to cardboard or posterboard cut to the same size.

Step 4: Cover the photo with clear contact paper and cut to size.

You did it! A dry erase marker can now be used to draw on top of the photo adding cowboy hats, glasses, tiaras or crowns, horns, spikes or glamorous jewelry. What child could resist putting fangs on their sibling or a moustache on mom? All marks can be easily wiped off with a Kleenex for endless drawing fun.

Travel Bingo

If you’re traveling with another adult, the non-driver can enjoy a game of travel bingo with your kids. The friendly competition, the anticipation of finding the next object, and the family interaction which occurs while playing can connect you with your kids and make the time pass faster for everyone. The driver can also participate by helping to look out for objects. How do you do this?

Materials needed:
– A computer and printer
– Posterboard, cardboard or other stiff paper
– Clear contact paper (can be purchased from Amazon.com for under $3)
– A dry erase pen

Step 1: Using Microsoft Publisher or another software program, create a grid of 5 x 6 squares sized to almost fill an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.

Step 2: Mark a free space in the middle square, write BINGO across the top five spaces.

Step 3: Next use Publisher’s clip art or any free clipart program to find pictures of things you might see during your journey and put one picture in each square of your grid. (Here are some examples to get you started: airplane, flag, traffic cone, bridge, stop sign, fire hydrant, police car, motorcycle, bridge, tractor, billboard, etc.)

Step 4: Print. If you’ll be playing with two people, you’ll want to make a second card with the pictures in different spots. For three people, make three cards with the pictures in different spots, etc.

Step 5: Glue, tape or staple photo to cardboard or posterboard cut to the same size.

Step 6: Cover the photo with clear contact paper and cut to size.

You did it! A dry erase marker can now be used to draw on your Bingo card and cross off objects as you find them. All marks can be easily wiped off with a tissue for endless games of Bingo.


Gina Dobson is the owner of Fun on the Run, a Hoboken-based company aimed at creating successful family travel experiences. Fun on the Run rents activity bags full of games, books, music, and toys designed to entertain kids during long car, plane, or train journeys. For more information, visit http://www.funontherunbags.com.


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3 Comments

  1. The Metro Moms decided to play bingo with our kids, you can download our board template at http://metromoms.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BingoTemplate.rtf

  2. Comment

  3. Keepng kids unplugged and entertained is a must if you want to enjoy a hassle-free holiday. Not being able
    to keep them busy, may pose a real threat to your enjoyment.

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