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Have Crayons, Will Travel

Matt Villano

Every child requires different items to make it through a family trip. For some, it might be a beloved blankie or stuffed animal. For others it might be a tablet computer, portable movie player or video game.

For L, my Big Girl, the secret is crayons. Lots and lots of (washable) crayons.

My wife and I learned this the hard way a while back on a 12-hour flight to Europe. About halfway in, after a nap, five puzzles, 12 books and an embarrassing amount of Whole Grain Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, the kid requested crayons. We had nothing. Thankfully, another traveling family had a bunch. So they shared. Along with three pads of paper, the implements kept L busy for a good four-hour chunk.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Nowadays, whether we’re heading to London or to our favorite Brit Pub down the road, the travel pouch of crayons is the first thing we grab on our way out of the house.

Over the course of an average day of travel, the kid can rattle off 40 pictures in no time. During one meal on a day-trip this weekend, she sketched five dress pictures in about 15 minutes. She also likes drawing cats. And Briar Rose. And flowers.

The hobby works for everyone—L is delighted at the opportunity to be creative, and she relishes the opportunity to draw things we experience on the road (she learned how to draw sailboats this way). We, on the other hand, are happy to see her focused so contently, and love that she has found a way to express her impressions of new places.

Perhaps the only downside: Volume. The kid is so prolific that even with one of these, it’s hard for us to save everything. I wonder if Monet’s parents had similar problems when they traveled with him.

What are those can’t-forget items for your kids on family trips? Leave a comment and let us know.