Anyone who has traveled anywhere knows that at some point, you will be stuck somewhere waiting … and waiting … and WAITING.
Waiting for the plane to take off. Waiting in the airport when the plane is delayed. Waiting for the car you rented to be returned by another family. Or waiting for the car seats you rented along with your car to be returned by another family. Waiting in a restaurant. Waiting for a train. Waiting in line to get into a museum or other attraction. There are so many opportunities to WAIT when you travel!
When you have kids, waiting can be torture!
The whining starts. There’s no where to sit. Everyone is tired and CRANKY! So what do you do?!
If you’re lucky, you have some space and can pull activities out of the luggage for the kids to do. You know, like all those activities I talk about in my TRAVEL ACTIVITIES tabs at the top of this page 😉
But if you’re stuck waiting for a rental car in a train station, for example, (like we were one summer in the Frankfurt train station – we waited almost an hour!) – THEN WHAT??
Then you need EASY GAMES TO PLAY THAT NEED NO PROPS! Here are some ideas that have worked like a charm to pass the time:
- I Spy – You know the drill! Someone picks something that they see, and then everyone takes turns asking questions to try to guess what it is. We usually give a general clue, such as a color: “I spy something yellow.”
- 20 Questions – Similar to I Spy, but instead of picking something you can see, you pick anything you want. You can ask that the “chooser” define category (animals, famous people, etc.) or give some parameter (“I’m thinking of something red.”). Then everyone takes turns asking yes/no questions until someone guesses the answer.
- Simon Says – I like this game for giving the kids some activity, but within a controlled manner. This way, the kids can get out some energy (hop on one foot five times!), but they are not running all over the place.
- The Alphabet Game – This is my personal favorite. You need to be in a place that has a number of signs – the more signs, the easier the game. You start with the letter A and try to find a word that has an A in it. Then move on to B, etc. We always take turns. We played it in the Frankfurt train station that time we waited for an hour for our rental car, and I added the rule that they had to say the word that had the letter in it. This way, they were saying German words, too 😉 (Hippo was too little to read, so we helped him out.)
- Rock, Paper, Scissors – This one doesn’t take much time, but it can be fun to play!
- Make up a story – One person could tell a story. Or tell a chain story, where one person starts, then the next person picks up the thread, and so on.
- Take pictures – I prefer not to turn to technology in these situations. But another idea is to let the kids take some pictures with your phone. You could even give them some specific instructions: Take a close-up of a family member’s eye! Find a red triangle! Get creative!
One thing that I really like about these games is that they get everyone involved. If you just hand your kid your phone, then there is no interaction. We have turned some awful waiting situations (did I mention that Frankfurt train station incident?!) into a really fun time! Not only did the wait seem shorter, but we laughed an awful lot!