By Amy Carney Bevins
Before the miles ahead stretch out like a never ending ribbon and you’ve heard enough choruses of “99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall” to make you lactose intolerant, use a few tricks from the “mommy-bag” to keep kids, and the whole family, enjoying your travel adventure.
Along with snacks and frequent stops, bring along a few toys and games that engage kids’ minds, hands and mouths in mommy-pleasing ways. Instead of dreading the hours in the car or feeling guilty over the 20th viewing of Little Mermaid, these toys and games will stretch minds, encourage conversation, engage creativity and more. Or at least hopefully buy a few minutes of respite from “Are we there yet?”
Kids United States Atlas
Sneak in a little learning along with the fun on those long drives. With mazes, word searches, crossword puzzles, maps and more, your kids will learn fun facts about the 50 states. When they ask “How much further?” you can say “Look at your map and let me know” because this atlas includes full-color maps of each state, the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Perfect for junior backseat drivers and budding navigators as well as kids who like to keep busy in the car.
Approximate Price – $4.95
While not a traditional game, the Family Talk card deck will engage your family in hours of quality time around the table, in the car, on vacation or out to eat. Play with cousins, friends, co-workers, scouts, church groups and more. Each deck of 100 cards is attached with a carabineer clip for ultimate portability. With questions like “Name all of the pets you’ve ever had,” “What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone,” and “What is your favorite thing to eat at a restaurant?” you’ll share stories, keep family history alive and learn a little more about each other. Even hard-to-engage teens and tweens are drawn into Family Talk. Family Talk 2, Camp Talk, Teen Talk, and Grandparent Talk are also available.
Approximate cost: $9.99
Imaginets are the perfect travel toy – colorful, engaging, creative and quiet. The wooden carry case has two white board surfaces and contains 42 vibrantly colored magnetic, geometric shapes and a deck of simple to complex design pattern design cards. Or kids can make their own freeform creations. Bring along a dry erase marker to add to the possibilities – making play options endless.
Approximate Price – $29.95
A pinch of Poker, a peck of Yatzee and a bushel of fun! Yamslam is a dice-rolling, chip-collecting game with the perfect combination of luck and strategy. Quick to learn and play, Yamslam appeals to all ages. Yamslam also sneaks math skills like counting, probability and odds into such an appealing package that kids won’t even know they’re learning. Yamslam’s brightly colored storage tin opens to reveal the play surface, making it a great travel game. So let the dice roll with Yamslam!
Approximate Price – $19.99
Catch it, toss it, indoors and out, night or day. The Jelly Flyer is a fabulous durable, flexible flying disc made of high-tech silicone and is perfect for a quick game for rest stop frisbee. Squish it up to take it with you, play a painless game of frisbee tag, teach beginners and challenge frisbee aficionados. Jelly Flyers come in 6 bright colors, including glow-in-the-dark. Perfect to get out those travel wiggles!
Approximate Price – $2
Rory’s Story Cubes
Roll a story, toss an adventure. With Rory’s Story Cubes, the creative possibilities are limitless. A picture on each side of the 9 story dice sets the stage, you supply the imagination. With a portable travel case, they’re just right for on-the-go fun. Play alone or together. Use them as a daily story starter or play around the campfire for an evening of group tale telling. However you play, every game will be unique.
Approximate Cost – $7.99
The cutest, cuddliest, snuggliest! Zoobies combine the best of stuffed friends, soft pillows and cozy blankets in one loveable animal package. At first they look like a stuffed animal, but simply open the child-friendly Velcro tabs to transform your Zoobie into a pillow. Unzip the zipper to reveal a super-soft, detachable, washable blanket tucked inside the Zoobie’s belly. Ellema Elephant, Bobo Baboon and the rest of the Zoobies friends make wonderful loveys and travel companions. Equally-huggable, smaller Baby Zoobies and giant body-sized Jumbo Zoobies are also available.
Approximate Price – $25-35
Amy Carney Bevins (www.amycarneybevins.com) has survived over 50,000 miles worth of family automotive adventures. She is a freelance writer, Assistant Editor and Toy Expert for FAMILY Magazine, an educator and founder/owner of Chantilly Chefs cooking classes for children and adults. She has been featured on WUSA9, NBC, MonkeySee.com, AOL Video and RobustCooking.com. Visit her website to read more of her articles, view her cooking and toy videos and learn more about her cooking classes.