As promised, today we kick off the new bi-weekly feature on “Temperament and Travel,” featuring advice for traveling with children of each and every temperament. First up: Advice for travel with a high-energy child. Does this sound like yours?
Portrait of the High-Energy Child:
Is your child highly active, needing much more physical exercise and freedom than many of his peers? Does it seem like he’s constantly on the move, even when he’s playing in one area?
Advice for Travel with a High-Energy Child
Try to keep this child as mentally active as possible during periods when he must remain in his car seat or at the table. Bring plenty of books or audiobooks, and play soothing music during long drives to help keep him calm rather than rev him up. Coloring books and even play-dough can be helpful. We’ve also found the “Doodle Pro” style of magnetic drawing boards indispensable during travel and in restaurants (no mess or loose pieces). Travel trays that attach to the car seat or stroller can provide an important space for activities and entertainment. For more help, see my recommended travel toys.and this post with Five Screen-Free Favorites to Keep Kids Entertained on Long Flights.
When planning your itinerary, try to work in a physical activity early in the day, whether visiting the local playground, swimming in the hotel pool, or going for a family hike, so he’ll be more content to visit the natural history museum in the afternoon without scaling its walls.
Everyday scrapes and bruises are more likely with this child at home and certainly while traveling, so keep the Band-Aids and antiseptic handy even while sightseeing. Injuries could be even more of a concern when visiting destinations outside the U.S. where safety standards (railings, windows, crosswalks) are not what they are at home, and where pedestrians do not have the right of way–or bicyclists rule the road. Always do a thorough safety check of new accommodations upon arrival, including other relative’s and friend’s homes that may not be prepared for your energetic explorer. For more help with this, see my recommended travel safety and childproofing products.
Trips by train may be favorable with this child, allowing for more movement and breaks for exploration. Try for seating configurations with tables where he can color and keep busy with building toys, or where two rows of seats face each other so he can play on the floor in between. Just steer clear of peak travel times on popular trains that get very crowded–your child may end up on your lap in a car too crowded with to explore. For more tips on planning train travel with young children in the U.S., Canada, or Europe, see Part 6: Travels by Train in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide…
When flying, avoid pre-boarding the aircraft with this child, and instead let him remain physically active as long as possible. If you need to preboard to install a car seat or CARES harness before other passengers fill the plane (and your airline still actually allows family pre-boarding!), ask an attendant at the gate if one parent can board first without the child to take care of the installation. Book bulkhead row seats to help avoid battles over kicking a forward passenger’s seat on airplanes. If you need to make a long-haul or overseas flight with this child, try to schedule a nighttime flight when his energy level will be lowest. Even if he doesn’t sleep, he will hopefully be more content to sit still. For more help planning all phases of air travel with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, see Part 5: Travels by Airplane.
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More tips and advice are on the way! For help for planning travel of every kind–with babies and children of every temperament–in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.
Read More from the Temperament and Travel Series:
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks
What?! Your kids aren’t babies anymore? Head over to Family Travel 411