Hitting the Road and Staying Entertained

Great Ideas for Families on the Road this Summer

Family vacations are what I believe is another cog in the wheel of bringing a family closer through shared experiences. From the time my oldest was 2, we took family vacations every year. When you're traveling with kids, you probably know all too well how imperative it is that you keep your kids entertained, or else there's the possibility of them driving you bananas.

My wife has about 300 relatives in the greater Toronto area, so we often made the nine-hour trek to Toronto. While I'm not a huge advocate of always tuning in a child to a DVD to keep them quiet, having them tuned in for half the journey made the driver (me) much happier. The rest of the time we played games like the "License Plate" game and any of the other classic car trip games, and having toys and games to keep my kids entertained was a crucial element for ensuring a peaceful trip.

Flying on a plane is an entirely different type of travel with children. In a car, they can spread out a little more and you're not as limited in what you can bring. On a plane, there is limited play space and limitations of what you can carry on. We always thought lighter and smaller when thinking of toys to pack for a plane. Remember to limit small pieces, and items that pack up easily and are self-contained are always important considerations. You also want to consider the overall play experience. Toys and games that can be shared among kids.

The following is our list of TimetoPlay's best toys for traveling. These will keep your kids busy and entertained and having a variety of different experiences. We've also kept an eye on finding affordable products that deliver a lot of great fun. You'll see a lot of classic play in these, and that's a great addition to a summertime trip. And, yes, they will also provide parents with a little peace and quiet on their family journey.

Products listed in alphabetical order

  • 40-Piece Art Pack
    40-Piece Art Pack
    from Elmer's

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 3 and up

    Toy Review:
    Bring the fun of creativity and Dora the Explorer-style exploration on the go with this cool 40-Piece Art Pack. Everything comes stored in a transparent backpack that features...Read More...

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  • Aquadoodle Travel 'N Doodle
    Aquadoodle Travel 'N Doodle
    from Spin Master

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 2 and up

    Toy Review:
    The popular water-based drawing toy now has a travel version. The fabric and plastic toy has two drawing surfaces, and folds up with handles so little ones can carry it. Fill the...Read More...

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  • Art Book to Go
    Art Book to Go
    from Alex

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 3 and up

    Toy Review:
    This is the perfect activity set for the young artist on the go. The Art Book To Go's nylon zippered case holds six dry-erase markers, an eight-page wipe-off activity book, and...Read More...

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  • Camp Talk
    Camp Talk
    from Around the Table Games

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 7 and up

    Toy Review:
    Gather around the campfire and make new friends with Camp Talk. This is a great gift for kids heading off to camp or for family camping trips. Camp Talk is the perfect way to get...Read More...

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  • Color Explosion 3-D and Color Explosion Extreme Surprises
    Color Explosion 3-D and Color Explosion Extreme Surprises
    from Crayola

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 6 and up

    Toy Review:
    Take your creations to the extreme with Color Explosion products! Color Explosion 3-D is a cool marker and paper set that reveals surprising scenes and designs that leap off the...Read More...

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  • Crazy Old Fish War
    Crazy Old Fish War
    from Hasbro

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 7 and up

    Toy Review:
    On your next vacation or your next night home with the family, get more games and fun for your buck-or your deck of cards. Crazy Old Fish War combines four card games that you...Read More...

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  • Dora & Diego Travel DVD Game
    Dora & Diego Travel DVD Game
    from Mattel

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 3 and up

    Toy Review:
    On your next trip, invite along Dora the Explorer and Diego! The Dora & Diego Travel DVD Game is jam-packed with more than two hours of unique content and video clips. Whether...Read More...

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  • Etch A Sketch Freestyle
    Etch A Sketch Freestyle
    from Ohio Art

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 3 and up

    Toy Review:
    Since 1960, Etch-A-Sketch has been a classic drawing toy. It's a great travel companion because it's the original no-mess drawing toy. But kids were always a little frustrated...Read More...

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  • Go Color! Travel Pad
    Go Color! Travel Pad
    from Elmer's

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 3 and up

    Toy Review:
    The Go Color! Travel Pad is the mess-free alternative to paint. Ideal for art activities on the go, moms will love that the mess-free, insta-dry colors mark only on Go Color! Paper!...Read More...

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  • KENKEN
    KENKEN
    from iToys

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 8 and up

    Toy Review:
    Keep those brain skills sharp over the summer break, or even while traveling with KENKEN. KENKEN is an arithmetic-based puzzle game that, like Sudoku, is played on a grid using...Read More...

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  • LEGO Creator: Mini 3-in-1 sets
    LEGO Creator: Mini 3-in-1 sets
    from LEGO

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 6 and up

    Toy Review:
    Riding in a car or plane is no reason not to build! Use those real-world vehicles as inspiration with new Creator Mini 3-in-1 sets! Each set comes with a 3-in-1 model with building...Read More...

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  • Monopoly Deal
    Monopoly Deal
    from Hasbro

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 8 and up

    Toy Review:
    Don't have the time or space to play a regular game of Monopoly while traveling? Then throw Monopoly Deal into your suitcase. This new twist on Monopoly is an addictive card game...Read More...

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  • National Parks Checkers & Tic Tac Toe Campfire Games
    National Parks Checkers & Tic Tac Toe Campfire Games
    from USAopoly

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 6 and up

    Toy Review:
    If you're going on a camping trip or you just enjoy helping out the national parks, then this themed Checkers and Tic Tac Toe set is for you! Featured in an easy to pack travel...Read More...

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  • Paper Talk
    Paper Talk
    from MEGA Brands

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 3 and up

    Toy Review:
    Paper Talk adds a whole new dimension to coloring-sound! The coloring pages are printed with new electronic ink, so kids can hear musical sound effects as they color and when they...Read More...

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  • Quizmo Starter Set
    Quizmo Starter Set
    from Inifitoy

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 6 and up

     

    Toy Review:
    Kids love brain teasers, and the more outrageous, the better. For take-along fun that will have the entire family guessing along, Quizmo is a great addition to a family trip. The...Read More...

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  • Scrabble Slam
    Scrabble Slam
    from Hasbro

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 8 and up

    Toy Review:
    Want to play Scrabble on vacation but don't have the room to tote the whole game with you? The new Scrabble Slam! card game solves that problem! It's quick-playing Scrabble fun...Read More...

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  • Scribble & Doodle Activity Pad
    Scribble & Doodle Activity Pad
    from Alex

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 4 and up

    Toy Review:
    Let kids express their creativity on the go with the Scribble & Doodle Activity Pad. This 75-page pad is a creative way to teach colors and simple words. Kids might have to "put...Read More...

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  • Stickerific Activity Packs
    Stickerific Activity Packs
    from Mrs. Grossman's

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 4 and up

    Toy Review:
    It's time to get stickerific! Each Stickerific Activity Pack is a colorful, flip-top storage folder that contains a 48-page booklet filled with baffling puzzles, word games, coloring...Read More...

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  • Travel Spindoodles
    Travel Spindoodles
    from Action Products

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 7 and up

    Toy Review:
    Now you can create crazy artwork anywhere, any time with the Travel Spindoodles kit. Kids use a travel-sized Spindoodles machine to create colorful, swirly works of art from the...Read More...

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  • Travel Tikes Activity Center
    Travel Tikes Activity Center
    from Little Tikes

    Recommended for Boys and Girls ages 3 and up

    Toy Review:
    The Travel Tikes Activity Center is the perfect solution for crafty kids on long car trips. The folding case has a built-in drawing/dry-erase surface and plenty of storage for...Read More...

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