The holiday season is upon us and that means lots of family time and some required travel to get there. Whether you are driving or flying, travel can be stressful. Add kids to the equation, and the “to pack” lists can get crazy and overwhelming. The fear of having un-entertained kids on a long car ride or in a stuffy airplane can make even the most seasoned traveler a bit queasy.
Here are our top three tips as you conquer your holiday travels with kids:
1. Activities galore: They can’t run around or bring their lego sets for the trip, so make sure you have some fun activities they can do in their seats. I recently packed one small playdough tub for each of my kids which they enjoyed playing with on their table during a long plane ride. Encourage kids to write out the Arabic alphabet or their names in Arabic using playdough. Card games are a great way to keep your kids' brains working while on a break from school-- we love playing Spot It (or Spot It Jr) and I challenge my kids to say the words in Arabic when we’re playing! For older children, bring along a special journal that they can fill notes and illustrations of their travel experience-- it will be fun for them to read years from now! Our puzzle books are perfect for little kids to put in their laps on a car, plane or train ride.
Don't forget to bring along some fun Arabic printables and practice words related to traveling on the road or by plane.
2. Apps, videos, and songs: Let’s be real, we are not going to leave these lifesaving devices at home. But we will try our best to make the most of their screen time with something educational, and preferably, one that includes Arabic. Some options:
- Iftah ya Simsim episodes, the classic show we grew up watching has been relaunched with new high-quality elements.
- Adam Wa Mishmish series is perfect for kids of all ages, featuring short songs that focus on a specific theme, such as numbers, animals, etc. Just pop in the CD and you'll be humming them all day long!
We also love a good Arabic app, some of our favorites are:
- Little Thinking Minds apps which have some great singalongs that your kids will quickly pick up (we’re not responsible for uncontrollable kids singing some fun Arabic tunes in public).
- Lamsa is another great interactive app which includes a variety of activities that reinforce numbers, letters, and sentence formation in Arabic. My son particularly enjoys the “cookie baking” activity!
- Siraj app is very good for letter recognition and word building, we love the graphics and easy to follow instructions.
- 3asafeer app gives you some great e-book options to read or listen to.
3. Books, books, and more books: Did you really think we were going to leave this one out? Pack your child’s favorite books and bring one or two that are new as a fun surprise. While technology is useful in many ways, long trips spent streaming videos nonstop will only make kids more fidgety and less engaged once you arrive at your destination. Make use of the time being “trapped” in a car or plane by practicing the Arabic alphabet with your toddlers and reading in Arabic with your older children-- disconnect from your work and other usual responsibilities and enjoy the quality time with your little ones. When you get tired of reading, pull out some audio books and let the kids listen and follow along in the car or on the plane. Our audiobook collection includes a “Bouquet of Flowers,” which fits perfectly with the theme of “showing thanks.”
Most importantly, keep your expectations realistic-- travel is hard even for adults, so be sure to pack some snacks and lots of patience! The reward of seeing your little ones enjoying their time with cousins and friends, or experiencing a new relaxing destination, will be well worth it.