You’ve packed up the car or headed out by plane, train, or boat to embark on a fun-filled family vacation. If you have children traveling with you, no doubt some suitcases are chock-full of toys to help keep the little ones occupied during the journey. Toys, books, and games are a wonderful way to pass the time while traveling and they aid in continuing a child’s education during those vacation months while they’re out of school.
Vacations are a great time for some unstructured play and the perfect opportunity for fun, creative activities that also provide educational benefits. Playing random word or memory games in the car, sculpting sand castles at the beach, and exploring nature are all effortless ways for kids to learn something while having lots of fun.
As a retailer, designer, or manufacturer of toys, have you given thought to how your product could play a more significant role in a family’s vacation? When your customers reach their destination, do you know if they leave their toys in the car or suitcase or make them part of their vacation adventure? This is an ideal time to encourage an expanded play experience by inviting your customers to discover new, or unimagined ways of playing with toys and games.
Suggest taking a favorite doll or action figure on a family camping trip and taking photos together; building a sand fort or palace at the beach with the coolest construction vehicles and recording the building process; or, carrying King Kong and Barbie to the top of the Empire State building and reenacting the story with a video camera running.
Green Toys, a US toy manufacturer, recently took one of their American-made toy cars to China and photographed the car on the Great Wall. A couple of my colleagues headed out on a trip down Route 66 earlier this year and found lots of fun ways to play along the way. A stop at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas was the perfect attraction for them to mimic with their own toy car version.
Promote unusual play destinations and experiences by holding an in-store or on-line photo contest for the most outrageous toy vacation, most unique, funniest toy vacation, etc. Post photos in your store of Barbie on location in Paris, Star Wars action figures visiting Cape Canaveral, Pirates learning how to swim in the Great Barrier Reef (with parental supervision of course), Karito Kids in front of the United Nations building and other unexpected play adventures. Sharing unique family vacation experiences in your store will certainly create some fun and buzz.
No matter if your destination is half way around the world or in your own backyard, there will always be opportunities for imaginative play to enhance a child’s vacation experience. And, hopefully these experiences will be remembered long after the vacation is over, providing cherished memories and ample material for ‘show & tell’ day at school. What better way to show up for the first day of class then with the most imaginative “what I did over summer vacation” report?