How to go on holiday with kids, without having to pack a million toys

by | Sep 5, 2018 | Holidays | Celebrations | 0 comments

It’s almost holiday time again!! We’re thrilled that the lovely Alice from of Jack and Lu’s  is here with us once more. Author of “Real Kids, Real Play” Alice has some terrific ideas to entertain kids. This month it’s all around how to go on holiday with kids, without having to pack a million toys. I don’t know about you, but usually by the time we’ve loaded the car up with everything, there’s literally no space left. So I’m really excited to find out some great games the kids can play instead of taking all their toys on holiday… over to Alice.

How to go on holiday with kids without having a pack a toy

Written by Alice Zsembery | Author “Real Kids, Real Play

And just like that, the holidays seem to be breathing down our necks once more!

With the glimmer of hope that Spring provides, September holidays are often a time when families are packing up their suitcases, loading their cars to the brim and heading away on a much-needed holiday to get them through the final months of the year.

But traveling with a family is much different to pre-kids travel! Packing everything that every little body needs (including the prams, bottles, nappies and cots) and anticipating every possible weather outcome is draining enough. You don’t need to be packing mountains of toys too.

It’s a tricky one… we all know that toys packed for holiday trips should be there to augment the holiday experience, not BE the holiday experience. At the same time, the reality is that holidaying with young kids does mean more time in your accommodation than you might otherwise have. Kids need down time, snacks, nap time, meals and more down time (and snacks). And with all this time in your home away from home, you need SOMETHING to keep them entertained.

To help you out these school holidays when your car is full to the brim with the essentials, I have compiled 10 activity ideas from my book Real Kids, Real Play to keep them engaged on holidays without requiring a toy.

Sock Toss

Simply roll up a couple of socks (or use the balloon balls below), find some buckets or mixing bowls (or even suitcases), and let the kids have a shoot-out. As soon as they get it in the bucket, take a step back and try again. For bigger kids, you can even try using cups.

How to go on holiday with kids without packing a toy

Apple Drop

Simply put an apple (or potato or orange) between your legs, race around a makeshift obstacle course and try to drop it into a bucket at the finish line. Then run back and repeat. The catch is that if you drop it on the ground or use your hands in any way, you have to start again. First person to transfer all their apples, wins.

How to go on holiday with kids without packing a toy

Tricky Transfer

Grab a container (an ice cube tray works well), a pair of tongs and some cotton wool balls and let them practice their fine motor skills by sorting them into and out of the tray. If you do not have cotton wool balls on the holiday, simply find other items that can be picked up by tongs; such as socks, pegs or complimentary soaps.

How to go on holiday with kids without packing a toy

Pin The Tail

Simply peg a tea towel (or, if in a hotel room, hand towel or face washer) to the bottom of each child’s t-shirt (or tuck it in their pants) and let them chase each other around trying to steal each other’s tail.

How to go on holiday with kids without packing a toy

Noise Dangles

Entertaining younger children (under 2) is the easiest! Remember that they take wonder in the every, single thing. Simple collect some plastic cups/ plastic cutlery/measuring cups/whatever safe item you can find, and let them explore. The more colourful, the better.

Bonus points if you can locate a ribbon or piece of string and tie them all together to make a dangling toy.

How to go on holiday with kids without packing a toy

Balloon Balls

So I got an email from a customer a few months ago and she had taken her 3 kids (under 6!) on a holiday to the Gold Coast armed only with a copy of Real Kids, Real Play, and a few essential (and small) items such as a bag of balloons.

Her daughter spent a great amount of time on the beach with a makeshift funnel (from an old soft drink bottle) making balls! So simple, but such fun (and, in turn, useful for other activities such as the apple drop above).

How to go on holiday with kids without packing a toy

Balloon Tennis

If you do pack a bag of balloons, then find 2 wooden spoons (or other cooking implements or bats) and you have yourself a game of balloon tennis! Easy!

How to go on holiday with kids without packing a toy

Straw Buildings

The same customer also had a bag of straws in her bag and her elder kids spent hours in their apartment building straw towers and jewellery. A handy tip is to fold the straw over and cut a slit in the middle to allow you to thread other straws through and produce amazing 3D creations.

Treasure Chest

For the younger kids, grab an empty tissue box and some appropriately-sized items (such as pegs) and let them put their ‘treasures’ in the treasure box. Amazingly simple I know, but at about 18 months old, this activity of putting them in and taking them out (over and over), kept my daughter occupied for hours!

Memory Game

Put 5 objects on the floor and ask your child to memorise them. Then cover the objects with a blanket and take one object away whilst the child’s eyes are closed. Uncover and test your child’s memory on which item is missing.

Note: Whilst the benefits of independent play are well cited, please remember that pre-school aged children still require supervision at appropriate levels to their individual needs and abilities.

Want more ideas?

And if you are looking for a few more entertaining ideas to keep the kids entertained for free at home, then be sure to download our guide:

18 fun activities to do around the home using household items.

About the Author

Alice is the founder of Jack and Lu’s: a company created with a simple dream of bringing back real childhood; where the toys were simpler, the items were fewer and the imaginations were greater. She is a busy working mum of 2 preschool aged children and has just released her new book Real Kids, Real Play – 150 activities to do around the home using household items. It aims to remind us of the copious educational and fun activities that our children can do around the home using everyday items – without you having to spend lots of money, time or effort. It is written by an exhausted Mum, for an exhausted Mum. And Dad. And Grandparent, And Carer.  You can contact Alice at or follow her on Facebook or Instagram

Alice Zsembery - Real Kids Real Play

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