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How to keep the kids entertained on your next family vacation

Avoid a meltdown with games to keep your kids smiling in these eight common vacation situations.

Ahh vacation — time to relax and unwind, put your feet up and… wait what’s that? “Stop hitting each other!”…“I’m bored!”

Family vacations should be when joyful memories are made, but whether you’ve got one kid or four, chaos seems inevitable. With ideas from “On-the-Go Fun For Kids” by Amanda Morin, you’ll be prepared with games and activities to entertain the kids in each of these common vacation scenarios.

For lengthy car rides, Morin devised a genius game that’s so simple you’ll wonder how you never thought of it yourself. “Designate one member of the family to control the MP3 player. Have her choose a song, play the first 30 seconds, and then hit “Pause.” Now, the rest of the players have to guess the song,” Morin suggests.

Later, when you need some quiet time, Morin suggests having window markers or dry erase markers handy in the car. Let kids doodle, write, and play games on the passenger windows while you drive. As long you’re careful to keep permanent markers far, faaar away from little hands, you’ll be able to wipe the windows clean like it never happened.

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Here’s how to play hide-and-seek without running all over the place: Tell your child to imagine a hiding place, whether it’s somewhere at home or even on a distant planet. Then you can guess where he or she is “hiding” by asking questions with yes or no answers. “Since it’s only in [your child’s] imagination, he or she could even hide in places where he or she wouldn’t fit in real life or in places that aren’t usually safe,” Morin writes.

Traveling around the country is bound to get your little one thinking about geography, so take advantage of that with this fun word scramble and crossword, straight from “On-the-Go,” while you’re waiting around in the airport or train station.

It’s tough to arrive at your hotel after a long day of traveling and have to deal with a child bouncing off the walls. To avoid that, give her this scavenger hunt once you’ve reached your destination and keep your child busy while you get settled.

Here’s one that’s great for restless kids with big imaginations and loads of crazy questions to ask.

Before your child becomes impatient while waiting in a long line, play Morin’s “what if the world were weirder?” game. Get creative and come up with some seriously silly “what if” questions.

Here are some of Morin’s examples to get you started:
What would we do if…
…trees could eat regular food?
…dogs could talk?
…candy grew on the ground instead of grass?
…it rained something else instead of water?

Avoid watching bread fly across the table and spaghetti go all over the floor by using what you’ve got right in front of you to make an entertaining game for the kids. Morin calls this a “condiment taste test.”

“Have your child close his eyes, put a little ketchup or sweetener on the spoon, and ask him to identify what he’s tasting,” she writes.

To step things up a notch, move beyond condiments and try this game with tiny bits of food too. This can also be a great way to get your child to try new foods.

 
 
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