Whether you’re bound for a road trip or a wilderness adventure, traveling with toddlers can be exciting and daunting. As you prep for your trip, use the “one activity per hour" rule of thumb. Plan a project for every hour of travel to keep things fresh and entertaining. This might include eating a snack, pulling out a new toy or compact art project, taking a nap, stopping the car to stretch, singing along to a playlist, reading a book, and more.
Traveling with Toddlers: A Montessori-Minded Guide
Pack some Indestructible Books
These fun, lightweight books for babies 0 and up are rip-proof, chew-proof, nontoxic, and 100% washable. Toss a few in your bag for easy reading on the go. They are a great way to use time on vacation to read together and build language skills, without worrying about ruining a favorite book or carrying a bunch of extra weight. Keep in mind that even though these books say they can be chewed, it is still best to encourage respect for books and offer something else for chewing!
Refill your Mystery Bags.
The Monti Kids Mystery Bags from Monti Kids Level 8 make great travel buddies. Their cloth composition makes them easy to stuff into a purse or suitcase, and pull out at the beach to put shells in, on a hike to collect rocks, or as a receptacle for souvenirs. Your little one can practice her haptic sense all vacation long with a new assortment of items you find on the road.
Travel during nap time.
It may seem obvious, and it can of course be difficult to maneuver, but if you can set off for your drive during nap time, you will save yourself an hour or two of entertaining en route!
Use traveling with your toddler as an opportunity for language learning.
Point out the things you see in this new environment and name them. For example, if you drive through an area that is more rural, you might say: "Look, there's a cow! Cows say moo." Point out familiar landmarks that your little one can recognize, or some of the interesting new features you can spot from the car "There's a sign with a knife and fork. That shows people where to find restaurants. There's a big lake, and a mountain!"
Bring some portable art activities
Keep it simple. Depending on your child’s age, a small jar of Play-Doh or a sheet of stickers and crayons will do the trick. Water coloring books are also an easy, mess-free way to keep your older toddler occupied as you get settled at your destination.
Keep calm and snack on.
Bring plenty of healthy snack options for your little one and store a few of her favorites where she can reach them. Reinforce that your child will be able to help themselves get snacks by showing them where you're placing them.
Don't forget your favorite ball.
This may sound simple, but it's a must! Bring your child’s favorite ball. It will provide hours of fun once you arrive at your destination. You can use it at a picnic spot if you break up your trip with a rest stop. When you arrive, you can show your child where to keep it, maintaining a sense of order with the ritual of putting things away after you play with them.
Tech Tip: Take a photo of all the toys you bring so that when it's time to pack up, you can round them all up and avoid leaving anything behind.
Find your Zen.
Babies and toddlers are unpredictable, and travel can be overwhelming for the little ones. Even the most prepared parents will face mid-air meltdowns once in a while. Your child can’t always control his emotions, but you can! Remain calm and remember that you are both doing the best you can.
Be Mindful of Screen TimeWhen you plan ahead with activities like these, you won't have to rely on screens nearly as much (after all, screens didn't even exist when many of us were growing up!). Screens are, of course, a tempting way to entertain your little one, and you know what's best for your family. Even if you allow some special travel screen time, the above tips are good habits to form just in case the batteries run out or you have trouble accessing data, etc. If you have a book, activity, and snack accessible, you won't have an upset toddler when your iPad goes to sleep!