TOP Travel Activities for KIDS

TOP Travel Activities for KIDS

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colorful stripes, Top Travel Activities for KIDS,

The Educational Tourist has multiple articles on activities to keep the kids busy during travels. Why so many? Because every parent knows – you can never be too prepared with the kids! Have LOTS of ideas in your bag of tricks to make the journey and waiting a painless part of your family adventure!

These are the TOP activities for traveling with your kids! Enjoy the journey without complaining, whining and stress. Be prepared with lots of things for kids to do during the stretches of down time you’ll find as a part of every journey. Those stretches of down time are often unplanned….delayed flights, waiting on the tarmac, trains are missed and so on. Don’t let those moments become any more stressful than they already are! Have stuff to pull out of your bag for the kids.

These activities are also great at strengthening muscles required for fine motor skills. School Sparks says,

“Strong fine motor skills are essential to complete tasks such as writing, cutting, using a fork or spoon, threading beads, moving puzzle pieces, zipping, buttoning, and tying shoe laces. Without well-developed fine motor skills, a child may have difficulty learning to write or performing many of the other critical tasks presented in the preschool and kindergarten classrooms.”

Top Travel Activities for KIDS – Splat monsters


Let creativity run wild and create splat monsters! You’ll need a little prep before you go. Take some paper, fold in 1/2 and squirt some paint in the crease. Press to let the paint spread around. Open and let dry.

This splat monster photo and idea come from the blog Artful Adventures. Take your dry splats and bits and markers, crayons, etc. for embellishment to create your monsters while you travel!

Extend the fun by using the monsters as inspiration for stories! Write stories about your monsters. Which one is scarier? What planet are they from? What do they eat?

Do these remind you of the Rorschach tests you read about in Psychology 101? Me, too! Check out these colorful Rorschach note cards with the designs. Does anyone else think that this is an unusual design choice for notecards? If you aren’t making splat monsters….what are you doing with Rorschach designs on notecards?? Kids could embellish the designs to make splat monsters and then write their stories inside.

Top Travel Activities for KIDS – Pipe Cleaners!

Pipe cleaners, or chenille stems as they are sometimes called, are fun, easy, and lightweight. They are also loved by all ages! When my kids were very small in the car seat, I would take a pipe cleaner and stick it between their toes. They would have fun pulling it out and putting it back in. Use them to practice colors with your preschooler!

An easy toddler activity is poke holes in the lid of an empty coffee can and let toddler put pipe cleaners in the can through the holes.

This is GREAT practice for small hands. Sometimes kids get frustrated with their fine motor skills because large muscle groups like used in running and standing are easier to strengthen and really aren’t kids more apt to run and jump rather than sit and fiddle with small crafts on their own? That is why using the time while you travel – when kids are ALREADY sitting down, to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ and use that time for good! Keep them busy AND build a strong foundation for school. Rock on, parent!!

Pipe Cleaners come in many wonderful colors!

Add a different layer to the pipe cleaner creations with these chenille stems that are fluffy in spots!

I love the series by Klutz! They have some really clever and creative ideas for kids who travel. You’ll love Twisted Critters: The Pipe Cleaner Book.

Kids can practice fine motor skills and following directions with this fun book on how to make pipe cleaner pets.

These pipe cleaners activities are more than just fun! They are GOOD for your kids, too! Twisting and bending pipe cleaners to create these wonderful fun critters strengthens the small muscles in hands. These muscles are used with fine motor skill activities like writing, tying shoes and buttoning clothing. The more practice a child has with those small muscles the better!

Download this FREE book on how to make pipe cleaner animals from Africa.

 How many different types of animals can the kids create?

This little guy from Martha Stewart really gets around. I have seen his instructions everywhere! Great jumping off point for the kids. After you make this chameleon suggest creating different animals like these at Frugal Fun For Boys.


Need more pipe cleaner ideas? Check out the compilation of pipe cleaner ideas from all over the web at Fun Family Crafts.

Top Travel Activities for KIDS – Paper chain bracelets

Remember making these with Starburst candy wrappers or gum wrappers? What’s old is new again! Introduce your little girl to the fun of your youth!

Another lovely idea  and photo from Kate at Picklebums and the best ever series of photos on how to make this bracelet.


You can make lovely paper before you go, buy lovely paper or use the artwork, or recycle the paper using that mountain of math/reading/social studies papers that come home from school.

Top Travel Activities for KIDS – String Games

Keep those little fingers happily busy with string games. Did you have fun with these when you were kids? My cousins and I were masters of Jacob’s Ladder and the Cat’s Cradle!! I’m afraid that knowledge didn’t stick. I need to refresh my memory in this book!

You’ll need string!

There are so many more string creations than I remember!

You can never have too many ideas to keep your kiddos busy while you travel! Make sure YOUR bag of tricks is full!!!

Related articles with even MORE ideas for traveling KIDS

Paper Activities for Traveling KIDS

Road Trip Activities for KIDS

Travel Activities for Preschoolers

Happy and quiet travels!

Natalie, The Educational Tourist


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21 Responses

  1. Judy says:

    This is so good! I’ve never heard of Splat monsters or imagined everything you could do with pipe cleaners….I don’t have kids but friends of mine who travel do so definitely sharing this with them. It’s great that parents think of crafts to do with kids to occupy their time rather than plonking the ipad in front of them.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Thanks for sharing! I know your friends will appreciate it. You can never ben too prepared with the kids around!

  2. asoulwindow says:

    I don’t have kids but I understand that kids need to be engaged in meaningful activities. The activities you mentioned are creative and would not only keep the kids busy but also expand their minds.

  3. Alice Chen says:

    These are some great ideas! Not only do they keep kids entertained, they’re easy to carry around. It’s always a challenge with kids but these are definitely ways to keep the whole family happy.

  4. Being a travelling family and having two young kids these are great to know. The splat monsters is a brilliant idea and although we do freestyle painting at home, doing this while travelling is so easy and possible. The paper chain bracelets can also be a good idea. Anything to keep the kids busy during those long flights right.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      No doubt! You can never be too prepared, right? 🙂 Splat monsters are a great conversations starter…I love keeping those things and reading them later, too! Their ideas can be so much different than ours!

  5. These are cute ways to keep my daughter busy! I love the pipe cleaners! I never thought about that. And i think i will like doing in on a trip as well. Thanks for sharing!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Great! I’m so glad. Enjoy the journey! I add tips often so please come back for more for the next trip!

  6. Nadine Smith says:

    These are all so fun! I have never heard of Splat Monsters or Pipe Cleaners before. I love how these activities encourage kids to use their imagination while also keeping them from being bored. I think I would enjoy doing these activities myself, especially the bracelets! 🙂

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Aren’t they fun? I am often in the middle of the kids making things with them. Fun 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Riely says:

    I quite enjoy these creative ways to keep children occupied while travelling especially since it involves them using their fine motor skills and engaging in different activities other than staring at a screen. Pipe cleaners are such an easy thing to have on hand and creating animals with them would be a hit with kids. I remember playing all sorts of games with string as a child! Thanks for sharing this well thought out post.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Thanks for stopping by! Fine motor skills are so valuable in school and they are working on them without giving it a second thought! Sneaky learning. 😉

  8. 2travellingsisters says:

    What a great way to keep kids entertained and engaged while travelling! The pipe cleaners looks easy and fun activity for the kids to develop their creativity. Do not have kids of my own but definitely going to share this with my friends who travel along with their kids. I’m sure this will be of great help for them.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      We can not say enough good things about pipe cleaners! They are fun, cheap, colorful and can be made into a gazillion things! Super fun for the kids. Lots of giggles. Thanks for sharing with your friends! I appreciate it!

  9. I absolutely like all of your suggestions. I am even also interested in using them just for fun. Haha! I have nephews who play video games when they get bored especially during traveling. These activities would give not them eye strain.

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