Instead of packing a ton of heavy books in your carry-on, pack a felt board. You can make your own before your trip by pasting a piece of felt to a square of cardboard, then cutting out various shapes, figures, animals, etc., from colored felt. Tell stories with your child, taking inspiration from the felt figures, to make your own storyboards. Encourage your child to come up with his own story, too. Not only will this keep you kids occupied, but it can also be educational, encouraging your child to use his imagination.
If you are going to pack a book, make it the Cranium Big Book of Outrageous Fun activity book. It's filled with more than 40 write on/wipe off activity pages, including pull-out board games and a sign-in book to record fun facts about friends and family. If you are familiar with the Cranium board games, you'll love this book inspired by them.
Try the old classics, 20 questions and 21 questions — yes, they are different. These games are great because you don't have to worry about packing anything besides your own creativity! For 20 questions, you think of an item, and the other person has to ask you 20 questions until they can guess the word you're thinking of. Stick to travel-related topics like pilot, cockpit, wings, clouds, sky and vacation.
For 21 questions, you ask someone 21 questions, just for fun and to find out interesting things about them. Again, ask travel-related questions. Here is a good start:
For the artsy child, pack a travel Magna Doodle or travel Etch-a-Sketch. When your child tires of making pictures, play a game such as tic-tac-toe, hangman or a fill-in-the-blank rhyme game. (For example, write "The man kicked a _ _ _," then challenge your child to fill in the blank with a word that rhymes with "man.") For younger kids, practice drawing shapes or writing letters to sneak in a little learning as you play. Magnetic travel games are ideal for airplane travel, too, and are suited for various ages. This kit offers six magnetic games in one, such as chess and checkers. Bonus: You won't have to worry about losing pieces.
A deck of cards can entertain older kids for hours. Depending on your child's age and attention span, you can play Go Fish, Slap Jack, Concentration or Crazy 8s or King's Corners. Use this as a chance to make learning fun for younger kids by playing a memory game, or helping them learn the alphabet or numbers with fun flash cards, such as these ABC: Sesame Street Slide and Learn Flash Cards.
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