Travel in foreign countries often involves taxis, subways, buses or train rides.  With young children that can be trying to say the least. Keeping kids busy while on these long rides is doable with a little planning and a few tips from your Road Ninjas.

(Very sleepy boys on a taxi ride).

Plan snacks. It doesn’t matter what we are doing or how long we will be out I always try to plan for the unexpected. So, I take snacks and bottled water with us every time.

Games. If we are in a taxi, it is super easy to play fun car games like “I Spy.”  With younger children we play “Find the Color” and “Find the Shapes.”  We also love to play a game where you pretend to be a character and the others have to guess who you are by clues; sort of like the board game “Guess Who?”

Dress for comfort. In China, where we live, a taxi could be roasting hot in the summer, and freezing cold in the winter. Train station and subways will also vary greatly in temperature. To deal with this, I dress the kids in layers. That way we can take off or put on what we need to so they can be comfortable. Truly, its amazing how not being cold can keep a kid in a good attitude.

(Ethan dressed for anything. You can see his backpack. He has a snack and an activity or two in here to keep him busy).

Electronics. Sometimes on a longer trip, its a good idea to use a tablet or game pad to help keep them busy. Often on subway rides that will be at least an hour long, this is something we do. The reason why I let them do this on subway rides is because, in China, I know the areas we go are safe for them to do it. (This may not be true everywhere so use common sense). I also know they are underground with nothing to look at. So, some of the other games would be hard to do.

Mentally prepare. When we are going to take longer trips (anything over 30 minutes), I prep the kids by giving them a heads up. I let them know, what method of transportation, where we are going and how long it will take.  This also gives them a chance to chose activities to take with them.

(Happy boys on a taxi ride.)

Reading and Sticker Books. My kids love to take along a book to look at or to read. They also enjoy sticker books. These can keep them busy for hours in case the day doesn’t go as planned. When Ethan was younger he liked plastic dinosaurs to play with.

Essential Oils. My kids love Lavender oil to help when they need a dose of calm. Peppermint Oil is also helpful if they get motion sickness from the crazy driving! Shanghai taxi rides can rival the best of roller coasters at times.  (For more information on Essential oils you can use the Contact Us page).

(Oil case I carry in my purse. The bottles are 3 ml each and it holds anything I could need!)

The key is to have things that your child likes to do. My kids do a lot of the selecting for each outing. This helps them in the mental prep process; however, I sign off on everything we take out of the house. That way I can keep track. I also carry all electronics (if we take them), which helps keep them from pick-pocket problems.

Most importantly – PLAN! PLAN! PLAN! 

What activities keep your kids busy? Post your great secrets here!

~ Sarah