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Ten Simple Play Ideas when Travelling with Young Children

Ten Simple Play Ideas when Travelling with Young Children

Family holidays are where memories are made and sometimes where patience is lost due to the feeling of overwhelm on how best to entertain the little ones whilst travelling. Whether it be in a car, bus, train or plane these easy play ideas will provide you with the inspiration needed to enjoy every last minute of your travel time. 

Play activity set
Source: nappycakesbyerin.com.au

My Top 10 Simple Play Activities While Travelling 

  1. I SPY

    A traditional verbal game of identifying objects by stating what letter/sound the object in sight begins with. Eg. I spy with my little eye something beginning with A. If your littlies are not familiar or confident with letters and sounds modify the the game by using colours instead. If your child needs to be challenged, extend the game by using initial or ending blends eg. I spy with my little eye something beginning/ending with “SH”.


    Fill a series of travel size plastic containers (screw tops are ideal) with your choice of materials eg.coloured rice, pipe cleaners, pom poms, sequins, confetti to make a series of colourful fine motor toys that are the perfect addition to your busy bag. These toys are super handy when silence/quietness is required eg. night flight.


    This is an easy but a goodie to help reduce the number of times you will hear “are we there yet?”. Create a number card to represent each hour of the trip. Place these in view of your children (a line works best) and as each hour of the trip passes, remove the number card  so only the hours left of the trip remain in view.


    Most children love a treasure hunt and a challenge. This activity is much like a visual checklist where they will use the images and mark them off as they see them in real life. Provide your child/children with this activity when you expect to see these images in real life and explain to your children they are to flick through the collection of images and mark them off with a tick as they see them.To make yours, simply: collect or print pictures of the landmarks, road signs, airport signs, hotel names, iconic foods and anything else relevant to the places you visit prior to your travels. We recommend laminating the images so they are more durable when travelling. Using a hole puncher, make a hole in the top left corner of each laminated image. Then attach each image to a key ring. Children will use a marker to tick off what they find/see. We also love the Usborne range of activities for travel.

    Usbourne travel play activity books
    Source: nappycakesbyerin.com.au
  5. WRAP IT UP!

    Buy a bunch of toys from the dollar store and wrap them in colourful wrapping paper. Hand one over to your child every 30-60 minutes. Works like a charm!


    Fill a plastic binder with a series of worksheets of noughts and crosses, find a words, mazes, crosswords, spot the difference and dot to dots. Place the pencils/crayons inside the plastic pocket of the binder. We love the Bantex white hard cover arch lever folders. Why…because they have a clear plastic cover on the front and the back as well as a half pocket on the interior of the front and back cover which is great for storing bits and pieces in. The hard surface of the folder serves well for writing and drawing on with ease and comfort.


    Pack some pipe cleaners of different lengths, colours and patterns. These can be used to stimulate imaginative and quiet play (perfect for a night flight). You can create animals, modes of transport and people.


    Purchase a set of sticky notes in different colours, shapes and sizes. These sticky pads are the ideal way to make pictures stick on the windows. Not sure what to draw – here are our favourite ideas: letters, numbers, shapes, tracing and images.


    Using a store bought notepad and stickers, children can create their very own storybook, by placing the stickers on one side of the notepad and writing a story on the other side. If your child isn’t at the writing stage yet, they could draw a picture and create a colourful scene to add the stickers too. An alternative is to purchase some from your local discount store. Here is an example of a store bought book.


    Prior to travelling create/purchase a series of small handheld cardboard squares. Draw some squiggles on them using a black marker. Provide your child/children with a coloured marker to complete a drawing using the black squiggles on the square.

travel play activity set
Source: nappycakesbyerin.com.au

And a bonus one:


Busy Bags are a fantastic tool to keep young children entertained when out and about and can make life easier for Mums. Some of our favourite busy bag creations are: sensory bottles, magnetic numbers and letters, window suction toys, handheld plastic figurines, felt board with pieces, Velcro paddle pop sticks and paint chart peg charts. We love them because they are easy to make, store and more so bucket loads of fun to play with. To learn how we create busy bags head on over here.


Erin is a Mum of two, wife and Primary School teacher as well as the Owner of Nappy Cakes by Erin and the Founder of ‘celebrate play’. She lives a very busy, yet simple and enjoyable life in Sydney. Her greatest passions are family, organisation, gift-giving, helping others, celebrating events and lifelong learning. You can find her at Nappy Cakes By Erinfollow me on Facebook, join the Celebrate Play Facebook Group or emailnappycakesbyerin@outlook.comcelebrate playnappy cake play

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