Mom and baby happy on an airplane. Credit Getty

Montessori Expert's Guide: Traveling with Babies and Toddlers This Summer

Summer is a wonderful time for families to embark on exciting adventures and create lasting memories. Whether you're planning a road trip or taking to the skies, traveling with babies and toddlers can be a joyful experience with a little preparation and a Montessori mindset. In this blog post, we'll provide five road trip tips and activities, as well as five flying trip tips and activities, to help you make the most of your summer travels with your little ones.

Road Trip Tips and Activities for Traveling with Babies and Toddlers

Plan Around Their Sleep Routines:

Many families will start their road trips as soon as the car is packed. We recommend, however, waiting until it is beneficial and coincides with sleep schedules. Plan to start late in the day after traffic, get a few hours in before dinner, stop for a meal and a change before getting back in the car. As it gets dark seize this time to let your little ones sleep and get some miles under your belt. It might mean a late night for you before you arrive or stop for the night but it's fewer moments of frustration for everyone in the long run. If stopping for the night, have a separate overnight back packed with necessities for the evening to save you from having to unpack too much of the car.

Create a Prepared Environment in the Car:

A prepared environment is a key aspect of the Montessori approach. Before hitting the road, ensure your car is organized and equipped with the essentials. Create a diaper changing station, designate spaces for toys and snacks, and have a separate bag for easy access to extra clothes, wipes, and blankets. This setup will allow you to provide a comfortable and familiar environment for your child, promoting a sense of security during the journey.

Embrace the Power of Practical Life Activities:

Montessori emphasizes the importance of practical life activities for young children. On a road trip, provide your child with practical tasks that promote independence and engagement. Consider having a small basket of snack options within your child's reach, allowing them to choose and serve themselves. Additionally, encourage them to participate in simple cleaning activities, such as wiping their hands or packing up their toys after use.

Engage in Sensory Exploration:

Young children are naturally curious and thrive when provided with sensory experiences. Take advantage of the opportunities for sensory exploration during a road trip. Pack a bag with sensory items like textured toys, soft fabric books, or musical instruments. Allow your child to engage with these materials, stimulating their senses and promoting cognitive development.

Sing and Play Interactive Games:

Music and interactive games are fantastic ways to keep your little one entertained during a road trip. Create a playlist of your child's favorite songs and sing along together. You can also engage in interactive games like "I Spy" or "20 Questions," encouraging observation skills and vocabulary development.

Plan Frequent Stops for Outdoor Exploration:

Incorporating nature into your road trip is a great way to support your child's connection with the environment. Plan regular stops at parks, rest areas, or picnic spots, allowing your child to stretch their legs and explore the outdoors. Provide opportunities for hands-on experiences, like collecting leaves, observing wildlife, or feeling different textures. These moments of connection with nature will enhance your child's overall travel experience.

Create a Travel Journal:

For older toddlers, encourage your child's language and creativity skills by creating a travel journal together. Provide them with a small notebook and art supplies, such as colored pencils or washable markers. Throughout the road trip, encourage them to draw pictures of the places you visit, the things they see, or even the food they try. Help them label their drawings or write simple sentences about their experiences. This activity not only promotes literacy but also serves as a keepsake of their travel memories.

Toddler happy in their car seat with a book

Travel Activity Recommendations

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  1. Bead Stringing Set - Compact and easy to store in the provided cloth bag.

  2. Rattle Set - Small and packable. Great for the car or plane.

  3. Toddler Backpack - Just the right size to empower little ones without wearing them out.

  4. Window Cling Stickers - Can use these in the car or airplane. Stick and restick!

  5. Triangular Crayons - No rolling away! Color without the frustration while on the go.

  6. Yoto Player and Headphones - Listen to music and audiobooks without disturbing those around you.

Montessori Cooking Together Kit

Flying with Babies and Toddlers Tips and Activities

Prepare a Montessori-Inspired Carry-On Bag:

When flying with a baby or toddler, having a well-prepared carry-on bag is essential. Include items that cater to your child's needs and interests. Pack a few favorite books, quiet toys, and engaging activities such as threading beads or puzzles. Consider adding a small blanket or pillow for comfort during the flight. Packing one item per hour to unwrap or rediscover - from snacks to activities - is a great goal to aim for.

Maintain a Consistent Routine:

Consistency and predictability provide a sense of security for young children. While traveling, try to maintain elements of your child's regular routine. Follow their usual nap times, meal schedules, and bedtime routines as closely as possible. This familiarity will help them feel more at ease in an unfamiliar environment.

Utilize Practical Life Skills at the Airport:

The airport can be an exciting yet overwhelming place for young children. Engage your child in practical life activities to ease their anxieties and empower them. Allow them to help with tasks like carrying their small backpack, showing their identification, or placing items in the security bins. This involvement will foster independence and a sense of responsibility.

Encourage Imaginative Play:

Flying can provide a perfect opportunity for imaginative play. Encourage your child to engage in storytelling or create imaginary scenarios during the flight. They can pretend to be pilots, flight attendants, or explorers on an adventure. Encouraging their imagination will not only keep them entertained but also enhance their creativity and cognitive skills.

Emphasize Mindfulness and Self-Regulation:

Traveling can sometimes be stressful for both children and adults. Teach your child mindfulness and self-regulation techniques to help them cope with any anxiety or restlessness during the flight. Practice deep breathing exercises together, engage in calming activities like coloring or drawing, or encourage them to express their emotions through talking or storytelling. These techniques will support their emotional well-being and help create a more peaceful travel experience.

Pack Healthy Snacks and Hydration:

In-flight snacks and hydration are essential for keeping your child comfortable and nourished during the journey. Pack a variety of healthy snacks, such as sliced fruits, cheese sticks, or homemade granola bars, in a small container. Opt for spill-proof water bottles or sippy cups to ensure your child stays hydrated throughout the flight. Providing nutritious snacks and ample hydration supports their well-being and helps maintain their energy levels during the trip.

Traveling with babies and toddlers can be an enriching experience for the entire family when approached with a Montessori mindset. By incorporating these tips and activities into your road trips and flying trips, you can create a positive and engaging environment for your little ones. Remember to provide a prepared environment, engage in practical life activities, promote sensory exploration, and encourage interactive play. Additionally, prioritize consistency, utilize practical life skills, and emphasize mindfulness during flying trips. With these strategies in place, your summer adventures will not only be filled with fun and excitement but also provide valuable learning opportunities for your child's development.

As you embark on your summer travels, embrace the Montessori philosophy and let the journey become an opportunity for exploration, growth, and connection with your little ones. Happy travels!