This article may contain compensated links. Read the full disclosure.
Keeping everyone entertained while travelling and in transit can at times be a challenge so here are some simple ideas for staying entertained while away from home, with a travel entertainment system.
The Home Away From Home Entertainment System
Home is where you hang your hat. But we aren’t always at home; sometimes we need to branch out into the world by ourselves or with our family. Yet even being away from home, we yearn for a bit of that welcoming feeling. For many of us, that means familiar entertainment.
So how can you capture that feeling when you’re out? Naturally that depends what you’re into, but here are a few ideas to consider, especially if you’ve got some kids to work with and a little bit of MacGyver in you.
Running out to the craft store may not always be the first thing you’re thinking about away from home, but if you plan ahead, you can avoid that trip.
Making things can be both rewarding and fun. It’s also an excellent activity to spend some time while you’re waiting for the next leg of your journey. Or if your plans get rained out.
Embroidering and crocheting can be enjoyable for both you and the recipients, and the materials required are minimal.
Maybe you can turn that boring old jacket into something wonderful by adding a few designs. Natural ones, such as animals and flowers, tend to be well received and are often easy to find reference material for.
It may seem old fashion, but knitting a pair of socks or mittens is a task that can be easily started and stopped as needed.
Beads are and always will be a ton of fun to make decorative necklaces, bracelets and, for the girls, things to wear in the hair. Plus they’re super cheap and come with countless color choices to keep things interesting.
The Mobile Tube
Leaving home doesn’t mean leaving everything behind. For many of us, keeping up with our favourite shows and programs is an important daily ritual.
Growing up, my family and I always watched shows together around dinner time. That wasn’t always possible when you’re staying out—at least not until recently.
Thanks to services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, all you need to bring with you is your mobile. While I think something bigger such as a tablet or laptop is probably better for multiple viewers, your phone is probably enough if you’re going it alone.
Be sure to plan ahead and consider your destination. You may need a couple of different things.
Be sure where you’re staying is going to have WiFi, or else make sure you’ve purchased some mobile data that is valid in the country you’re visiting.
Netflix and Hulu also have regional blocks in place, so you’ll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide your location and let you connect to a US server (thus granting you access to everything you’d regularly have).
This goes double for when you’re using WiFi because public connections are notoriously unsecure (and VPNs encrypt your connection to make it secure).
If you don’t have a subscription to one of those services, pre-load some videos or pack a few DVDs for your laptop. YouTube is also an acceptable alternative; although, the types of content you’ll receive may vary.
There is also a load of virtual tours to keep the travel bug inspired even while you are on the roam.
Games to Play
While you’re probably not going to be dragging your PS4 or Wii U around with you, it may not be a bad idea to have some games to play. Countless mobile games are available for free, with some of them offering multiplayer features to play with the whole family.
If you’re a Nintendo family, a few 3DS/2DS’s will offer plenty of family entertainment. Just be sure not to leave these kinds of things laying around; we once had a hotel maid steal our entire mobile game collection back in the Gameboy days, and no one was willing to take the blame (we never did see our Gameboy color again).
Board games are also an interesting choice as they force the whole family to really sit down together and have a good time. Depending on your family’s preferences, you may want to go with something straight forward such as Jenga or Sorry!. I’m a big fan of Monopoly, but not everyone family can handle it.
A simple deck of cards can field a multitude of different games, and they’re available for purchase just about anywhere (I’ve even seen them at gas stations on occasion). Games such as War, Old Maid and Go Fish are always a big hit. Or go for a more specific card game such as Uno.
If you can manage to get over just how much of a tourist you’ll look like, taking pictures of utterly everything you see on a trip can become a consuming source of joy and amusement. There are so many beautiful things to see, and what better way to see them than with some pictures of you or your family with them?
Smartphones have made this a lot easier, but if you’re looking to up the ante, you can consider buying an aftermarket lens for your phone, or really investing and picking up a serious DSLR camera. Both are good options, and I’d steer clear from stranger accessories such as the dreaded selfie stick.
Bring Your Interests
Naturally your own interests will have a big impact on what sort of entertainment to bring along for the trip. For the more artsy, bring along a small drawing pad and your medium of choice (paints are, however, a tad messy). Sports families may want to consider a mobile subscription to a channel service such as ESPN, or else tune into the radio just like in the old days.
Otherwise, do your best to travel light. Even if you’re road tripping in a huge RV, the less heavy-duty items you bring along, the more room there will be for things to bring back.
You’ll also save on carry on costs if you’re flying. When all else fails, don’t forget you can still engage in conversation (with strangers at that!)
Kid’s travel subscription boxes are another great option to take with you while you travel.
How will you keep you and your family entertained between exciting bits while away from home? Every trip has its lows, so tell us what you’ve got planned!