My former husband and I became pretty solid travel companions as we spent over 200 day annually traveling for work.
But it didn’t start out that way!
Our first trip together was from Austin, Texas to Washington, D.C. The trip in and of itself isn’t all that complicated…
But when we arrived at the tiny, easy-to-navigate Austin airport we were very lucky we weren’t at O’Hare or Laguardia…
We totally didn’t have our mojo.
He stressed that I didn’t have my driver’s license in-hand and that my sequined Miss Me jeans were making the security checks buzz. (Hey, it was 2011, don’t make fun of me!)
I stressed that he wouldn’t stop for coffee and that he was so. damn. particular. about his travel.
Well, now we always stop for coffee (usually before the airport!) and I always have my passport and driver’s license in-hand until I get on the plane.
These compromises really made the entire situation run a LOT more smoothly!
But then you’re on the plane. Maybe you’re in a hotel. Or maybe you’re taking a 20-hour road trip (which my husband and I have done our fair share of!) Now how do you maintain sanity when you’re in a confined space with your baby and your lover?
After thousands of hours of travel, my husband and I have developed these 10 amazing travel toys to keep sanity during even the longest of road trips…
Best Plane Trip Games
Plane trips can be deceptive. You’re traveling from L.A. to Salt Lake City. It’s close enough that you could drive… but you’re going to an ah-mazing sushi restaurant with friends for dinner and you want to get there on time.
And then… a plane delay. There’s no de-icing the plane. There aren’t any blizzards or hurricanes. Ugh! Sometimes delays just happen.
So by the time you board you’re exhausted and a bit frustrated. How do you take the edge off… with baby in-tow?
Cell Phone Games
My husband and I love cell phone games on plane trips. Once the baby settles, we eagerly grab our phones ready to demolish each other in one of a few games that we love.
Our favorite, however, is hands-down the game “Ticket To Ride”. The game consists of collecting train “routes” and color-coated tickets to build train rides that span the U.S., or the world. (It has several awesome expansions.) The game has sold over 3 million copies and has been the most popular new board game of the past 10 years.
It requires equal amount luck and strategy, making it both challenging but also generous to the “weaker” player. (My husband is a genius but I still win my fair share!)
Get the apps on your respective cell phones and enjoy this game in hotels, airports, or in planes.
Once we traveled in The Cook Islands and New Zealand for 45 days and probably played this game nearly 30 hours during this trip. We never grew tired of it!
Magnetic Drawing Boards & Coloring Books
Our son loves when we draw things on his magnetic drawing board and we’ve been traveling with one for at least a year. At first he loved simple things like stars, moons, and hearts. Now we’re down to drawing intensely detailed bulldozers and pictures of planes.
When the baby goes to sleep, we’re surprised at how much fun we have dueling each other in drawing, too!
Best of all, magnetic drawing boards have no mess factor and no little pieces that you have to constantly scrape the filthy plane floor to retrieve.
You might think I’m nuts but after many hours on trains and planes, I’ve decided that water colors are an indispensable part of my travel system. My son adores scribbling paint on coloring books, plain sheets of paper, and even his own face. But unlike crayons, pens, or markers, water colors are insanely easy to clean. What’s more, you can’t drop them as easily as crayons or pens. The colors are all on one succinct palate.
Best of all, mommy and daddy can put some skill into water colors and make it a fun experience with or without baby!
This year was the best birthday of my life. My husband took me to brunch with all my favorite foods (a plate of smoked salmon, caviar, and vegetables prepared by the chef just for me!) and then we had a water color class together. It was epic!
Now, we have the “tools” to make water color painting more than just slushing paint on a piece of paper. And when you’re getting restless in an airport or a hotel, this is a fun and semi-educational way to burn some creative energy!
Best Road Trip Games…
Seriously, it’s a crime that Audible isn’t paying me a commission because I spend an enormous amount of time promoting them.
The first time my husband and I embraced Audible on a road trip we were driving from Austin, Texas to Aspen, Colorado. Not a trip for the faint of heart.
We have a deal that whomever is driving gets to pick the “music” for that portion of the trip. On day one, my husband drove 5 or 6 hours and I drove the remaining 5 or 6 to our first destination.
(I endured 6 hours of electronic music. I was spent!)
But during “my” portion of the trip, I chose to listen to the book Understanding Women on Audible. In my defense, I thought I’d downloaded “Snowball” the biography of Warren Buffet for us to listen to, but it hadn’t downloaded as I’d thought. So we were stuck with the aforementioned teaching on sexes and relationships. Score!
As it turns out, what he thought would be a chore was a joy for my husband. And for me: oh what fun! I laughed, I cried, and the hours flew by.
Audible is a life-saver for long trips. Not only does it engage mom and dad, but the books provide your child with positive stimulation on the car trip. I drive 3.5 hours to Denver at least once a month and my son has stayed up the entire trip before, listening to books with me.
I love to know that his little malleable brain is soaking up new words as mine soaks up new ideas and stories.
The Alphabet Game
Car travel can be mind-numbing, so here’s a tip for stretching your imagination (when you’re really itching to stretch your legs!)
One partner starts with a category such as Countries, Rivers, Foods, or Movies
Switch off going through the letters of the alphabet with words that relate to this category.
For instance, let’s say you choose “Countries”. Your progression might look like:
- Great Britain
Etc… You get the picture!
The more specific category you choose, the more difficult the game will be!
(Just stay away from “first names of my exes” if you want to maintain sanity on the otherwise insane task of driving cross-country with your lover!)
The Name Game
This is similar to The Alphabet Game.
Choose a first name of anybody famous. Your partner connects the last name.
Here’s how it may look:
Couples Card Games
Look, don’t say I didn’t warn you about this.
If your relationship isn’t solid, don’t mess with the decks of cards that pry into feelings about sex and infidelity.
But for a fun road trip game, ask one another questions from a relationship card game.
There are hundreds out there, but if you’re new to your relationship try a “getting to know you” game. If you’re looking for brain food try 100 Questions or if you want to spice things up with an established relationship (without getting too granular or esoteric in the CAR) then try Table Topics cards for couples.
Best Hotel Games
Similar to Ticket To Ride, this game is equal amounts luck and skill (although I tend to think it’s all about luck and less about skill).
It’s in a small, durable case you can travel easily with and you can play with two or more players.
Gubs is stupid-easy to learn (the rules are literally on every card) and it doesn’t take long to play.
The goal of the game is to have the most “gubs” at the end of the game (when you spell GUBS after drawing the letters) after your opponent(s) attack your gubs throughout the game.
The game is surprisingly amusing, but especially after indulging in the Room Service Wine Menu.
Hive Pocket Version
Hive Pocket Version literally fits in the smallest compartment of your diaper bag, which makes it totally baby travel worthy.
It’s a two-player game that consists of surrounding your opponent’s queen while simultaneously trying to block your opponent from surrounding your own queen. It’s simple but highly strategic.
Best yet, there are two expansions in case you want to take it to the next level.
(Just be sure you don’t let your little one around any small pieces he could choke on. Best yet, wait until she’s at least two and sticking less stuff in his or her mouth!)
After Baby Goes To Bed…
Just make sure your little one is already asleep!
If you want a cleaner version, travel with a deck of cards and enjoy the a good old-fashioned game of strip poker!
Read more about the best tips for traveling with a baby here.