Temperament and Travel: Advice for Travel with the Very Focused Child

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Vancouver, British Columbia: What a “Very Focused” child looks like. My daughter could have spent the entire afternoon enjoying this one exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium—seriously. We had to agree to a cut-off time.

The Temperament and Travel series moves on today to take a look at the final major temperament trait, Attention Span, and how it can influence family travel dynamics. Do either of these characteristics sound like your young traveler?

Attention Span: Focused vs. Distractible

Very Distractible – Is your child easily distracted from the activity at hand, jumping up from story time to investigate a toy across the room? Is it easy to move from an outburst to a new activity by simply suggesting it?

Very Focused – Does she focus well on one activity or toy at a time, regardless of changes around her? Is it a challenge to change activities when she’s engaged in a drawing or playing with a certain toy?

Today, we’ll take a look at how you can best travel with the Very Focused child.

Advice for Travel with the Very Focused Child

One of the great perks of travel with a Very Focused child is that long car rides or flights are not too much trouble as long as she has an activity to work at or travel toy she enjoys (art and creative projects are ideal). But not every aspect of travel is going to be so easy with this child! Here’s how to best be prepared.


Where the Very Distractible child may wander into harm’s way in pursuit of a distraction while out and about, the Very Focused child may fixate on some particular hazard in hotel room, particularly during the toddler years. Whatever it might be–an air-conditioning wall unit, an outlet or accessible power strip, or the hair dryer with the curly cord–it can be difficult to distract the Very Focused child from without rearranging the furniture or leaving the room.


Taking in too many differing sights and activities in a day can be frustrating for this child, when just as she becomes fully engaged with one place or one toy, she has to let go and turn her attention to something new.

Where it can be helpful with some other children to give plenty of notice when, in ten minutes…and in five minutes…and in two minutes…you’ll all be switching gears, it may not do much to “break the trance” of a very focused child. It may be more helpful to simply join her at her level when it’s time, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder, and making eye contact when you first explain what needs to happen next.


It may also be helpful to bring along a special travel toy, activity book, or puzzle that she can return to throughout your trip as a reprieve from the many changes around her during your trip.


To your advantage, she may be entertained at length by the same fountain in the park, exhibit at the aquarium, or bucket of toys at the beach, giving you a chance to relax and enjoy the moment as well.

Have you subscribed to Travels with Baby Tips?

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.

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Read More from the Temperament and Travel Series:

Advice for Travel with a High-Energy Child

Advice for Travel with a Low-Energy Child

Advice for Travel with the Eager Child

Advice for Travel with the Cautious Child

Advice for Travel with the Very Regular Child

Advice for Travel with the Unpredictable Child

Advice for Travel with the Fast-Adapting Child

Advice for Travel with the Slow-Adapting Child

Advice for Travel with the Intense Child

Advice for Travel with the Mellow Child

Advice for Travel with the “Negative” Child

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks

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