Children can be taught to enjoy traveling, even at a very young age. Travel-themed gifts encourage children to think of vacations and family visits as fun, exciting adventures. Kids' travel gifts don't have to be battery-powered or costly; our top picks are useful and relatively inexpensive.
Maps are useful and portable, but globes fascinate children of all ages. Using a globe, children can learn about countries, continents and oceans. Globes teach children about the true sizes of landforms and help them see the distances between points. Look for a raised relief globe, which shows elevations of mountains and valleys.
Even young children enjoy packing and pulling their own rolling suitcases. Taking care of clothing and belongings gives children a sense of responsibility and turns the tedious task of packing into an enjoyable activity. Look for a rolling suitcase sized for your child or grandchild; a youth-sized rolling bag will be easy for a younger, shorter child to pull. Middle schoolers and teens will probably prefer a larger bag with a longer pull handle. You can find rolling suitcases and duffel bags in all shapes, colors, sizes and price ranges.
This classic, low-tech toy can help those hours in the car pass more quickly. Each child takes an auto bingo card, which includes pictures of common roadside items, such as sheep, stop signs and railroad crossings. Players slide a colored window closed when they spot an object on their particular card. The first child to close five windows in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row shouts, "Bingo!" and wins the game. Auto bingo games come in sets of four cards.
The only thing more tedious than a long drive is a seemingly longer wait for restaurant food to arrive. Keep your child or grandchild happy and busy with these fun Mealtime Masterpiece paper placemats by Fred & Friends. This stack of 40 11 by 14 inch placemats comes with six marking pens, but you could also bring crayons or colored pencils, which are easier to carry and less messy, for your junior artists to use at the table. Each placemat has a painting-canvas-and-frame design, perfect for "framing" a creative kid's art.
Card games provide hours of entertainment for children of all ages. A deck of regular playing cards can be used to play Concentration by spreading the shuffled cardes face down on a table and having each player take turns turning two cards over, looking for pairs. The same deck can be used to play Solitaire, Crazy Eights, Old Maid and many more card games. Boxed card games, such as Professor Noggin's educational trivia games and UNO, are both colorful and easy to carry. Tip: Airplanes, trains and hotel rooms are the best places to play card games. It's very easy to lose cards in the car.
Children of almost any age can draw or write about their travel adventures in a blank journal or sketchbook. Preschoolers enjoy drawing pictures of buildings, animals and even food; parents and grandparents can write the date and a short description on each sketchbook page. Older children can draw pictures, create cartoons or write about each day's adventures in their journal. Travel journals and sketchbooks come in all sizes and price ranges; younger children will probably prefer to draw their pictures on larger pages. Remember to provide crayons, pencils or pens; marking pens may soak through pages.