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13 Awesome ways to keep kids happy while traveling

Kim Grundy is a mom, writer, expert laundry folder and sandwich maker, not necessarily in that order. Raised in Oklahoma, she is now a West Coast gal and lives in California with her husband and two sons, along with one dog, two fish (oo...

Create a kid-friendly travel kit

Whether you are traveling with toddlers or teens, it is important to be prepared with games, technology and activities — a travel kit, if you will — to help keep them entertained and happy while you are heading to your destination. We chatted with parents to find out their top tips to keep kids entertained on the go.

As the mom of three boys in a family that travels frequently, author Liz Cowen Furman knows a thing or two about keeping kids entertained while traveling.

Airplane travel tips

“On long plane rides we brought little presents wrapped to give one every hour. It might be a non-sugary snack, coloring book and colors, small puzzle or game, small toys, all inexpensive but fun,” Furman says. “The key is to wrap them, as it takes time to unwrap, thus burning part of the air time. On a few occasions we would use the next gift as leverage to keep them behaving until we passed the next one out.”

It would feel like Christmas on that plane ride! You can also put together an airplane travel kit, such as this one from Keeps Me Smiling that contains crayons, finger puppets, a magnifying glass and more.

Create a kid-friendly travel kit

Image: Keeps Me Smiling

For older kids, this travel kit contains magnets and puzzles that will keep your child entertained.

Create a kid-friendly travel kit

Image: Natural Famlly Today

For the book lover, you can’t go wrong with a travel kit like this, which also contains cards and LEGO packs.

Create a kid-friendly travel kit

Image: Natural Family Today

Of course, technology is often a life saver on an airplane. “In addition to activity books, an iPhone filled with fun free or 99 cent educational games goes a long way,” says Pixie Vacations owner Steve Griswold. “For $99 or less, a portable DVD player and some movies to make the ride more enjoyable is a great option.”

Which apps are the best? My kids are a fan of Minecraft; however, there are so many to choose from. “Mobile apps help entertain and educate kids of all ages during a long journey: Super WHY!, based on the popular PBS Kids program, features a collection of four literacy games that help preschoolers practice the alphabet, rhyming, spelling, writing and reading,” says Verizon technology insider Kate Jay. “For older kids, Angry Birds Space, the latest addition to the Angry Birds series, is a physics-based puzzle game featuring zero-gravity space adventures and more.”

Cards are another fun way to keep kids entertained while traveling. Pick up Uno cards, Go Fish or the super fun Loaded Questions card game.

What about road trips?

Bring along their phones, handheld gaming devices or an iPad and load it with movies to help pass the time. If you have a portable DVD player, Griswold says to stop at a Redbox along the way to drop off movies and pick up new ones. “This is a great way to break up the trip, get out of the car, and also have the family pick the next movie for the next leg of the trip,” he says. “There are Redbox vending machines at most grocery stores and drugstores, making it easy to pick up and drop off movies along the way.”

You can also pack up some fun road trip travel kits for the kids. If you have a LEGO-obsessed kid, this DIY Portable LEGO travel kit will be right up their alley.

Create a kid-friendly travel kit

Image: Fun at Home With Kids

We also love these “Busy Baskets” that are personalized for each kid. Blogger Staci from Lizard & Ladybug went to the dollar store and filled them with window markers, magnets (and a cookie sheet for them to stick to), activity books and more.

Create a kid-friendly travel kit

Image: The Wilson World

Don't be afraid to stop for a learning adventure with your kids. There are some awesome apps that will help you find unique historical sites, monuments, museums and more on your journey,” says Griswold, who lists Road Trippers and Roadside America as his favorite apps.

To get some fun conversation going on those long car rides, I love the idea of these "Conversation Cards."

Create a kid-friendly travel kit

Image: The Measured Mom

Head on over to The Measured Mom to print out these free conversation cards that are so much fun for the entire family.

Lastly, know that you won’t break any road trip time records with kids. “With kids, you need to plan on some breaks," says Griswold. "So plan on stopping for bathroom breaks, and to get out and walk around. Also, packing some snacks and drinks (carrots, bottled waters, trail mix, and a few of your children’s favorite treats that you can pull out as a surprise is a great idea. It's difficult to eat healthy when traveling, so bringing healthy snacks really can help you cut down on the junk food stops along the way.”

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