Today we continue the “Temperament and Travel” series with advice for travel with the slow-adapting child. A quick refresher on the two sides of the adaptation equation…
Fast-Adapting vs. Slow-Adapting Young Travelers
Fast-adapting (previous feature) – Does she adjust quickly to changes in routine or scenery, go with the flow when it’s time to change from the crib to the toddler bed, or wear the purple pajamas instead of the pink without complaint?
Slow-adapting – Does it take a while for her to sleep or eat normally in new settings? Is it a big problem if the usual nightlight, stuffed animal, or book isn’t present at bedtime? Read on for tips for your travels!
As a general rule, the fewer transitions necessary the better the vacation with this child, so you may lean toward vacations centered on one location, with similar sights and activities each day.
Start preparing this child for the trip well in advance, creating a picture in her mind of what she can expect.
If YOU are Fast-Adapting, retrain your brain to think in her terms and realize that details you might not even consider worth mentioning in advance, like where you will be seated in the airplane and how everyone will need to wear seat belts, are very important to her process.
Your transitions during travel will be much easier when you walk her through each step of your vacation beforehand, including how you will get to and through the airport if flying, where you will be staying, and what you will do each day.
If you’ll be flying, read a book about a trip on an airplane or the destination you will visit together. My Plane Trip, for example, tells the story of a child’s first air travel experience from packing through airport security and arrival–and it doubles as a coloring book your child can use during the trip.
If she’s old enough, let her help you pack for the trip, discussing in detail the things you will see and do and how you will use the items in the suitcase or carry-on.
Discuss where she will sleep and in what kind of bed (bringing a familiar travel bed or bedding can be helpful).
As you travel, give her as much advance warning as possible when you will be changing activities or locations, whether it’s leaving the hotel swimming pool, getting back into the car, or going to a restaurant.
When flying, choose seats toward the rear of aircraft where she can better observe the goings-on during your flight, including the drink or meal service before it reaches you and passengers using the lavatory.
Try to time arrivals at new destinations early in the day so that she has time to adjust to her new surroundings before dinner and bedtime.
Familiar, travel-friendly bedtime routines will be invaluable on vacation with this child, as her supply of adaptability may well be depleted by day’s end. So if you’ll need to make any adjustments to the routine for travel, it will be easier if you can make them in advance while you are still home.
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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:
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Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks
What?! Your kids aren’t babies anymore? Visit my new site: Family Travel 411