The alternative? Make a travel kit for your children. Put everything into a bin, plant it in the backseat (or under the seat in an airplane) and watch your kids actually use their brains, have fun, and perhaps even grow closer to their siblings as they interact together (really, it can happen!)
Audio Books With books on CD, MP3 or cassettes, you get basically the same effect as a movie or video game - kids are happy and quiet, but they are also listening to quality literature and using their imaginations. Public libraries have a wide selection and many have ways to download MP3 audio books online without even visiting the library. You can listen as a family by using the vehicles audio system, or you can hook your kids up with earphones. A double jack is a handy thing to have so that two children can listen to the same story.
Arts and Crafts Materials You can buy a travel set, but it is not all that hard to collect things from around the house. Consider including:
- Colored pencils and markers (no crayons if you are going somewhere warm!)
- Pad of drawing paper
- Stickers (get lots of colored dots for little kids)
- A portable whiteboard with markers
- Small amount of playdough in a baggie
- Wiki Stix
- Colorful pipe cleaners
- Yarn if you have a knitter, finger weaver, or braider
Other Neat Stuff
- Map of where you are going so they can track the journey
- Puzzle books - sudoku, invisible pen books, word searches etc.
- Mini Etcha Sketch
- Various Klutz products
- Magnet boards
- Window stickies
- Prism glasses (makes lights into rainbows, great for night travel)
- One-piece handheld puzzles such as a Rubrics Cube or those puzzles with loops, and rings that you have to untangle in some clever way
- You could print out Daily Brain Teasers for some challenging fun
I'm sure I missed many great ideas. If you have more to add, please add a comment!