1. Limit screen time for kids (2-5 years).
2. Pack appropriate entertainment for the trip.
3. Engage in word games to boost speech and language.
4. Plan breaks and pack smart snacks for the journey.
Traveling with our tiny friends can seem daunting, but proper preparation will make for a smooth ride! Whether it’s a long road trip, a train ride, or even a flight, these tricks and tips have you covered!
- Limit Screens
I know it is so much easier to keep your little one occupied with a tablet or device. However, screens really do promote self-direction and hyper-focused attention. That is, your child may direct all of their attention onto the tablet and forget that the rest of the world exists. We often also see a change in behavior following a significant amount of screen time. For children 2-5 years of age screen time should be limited to a maximum of 1 hour per day. (Okay, PSA on screen time complete!)
- Pack The Right Entertainment
I am all about packing smart, speechy activities to keep your tiny friend endlessly entertained! First, the Melissa and Doug Memory Travel Game comes with an easy to hold flip board and 7 game cards to switch out –it is also interactive if you are traveling with 2 or more friends. Next, I love the Crayola Travel Kit –coloring is a calming and grounding experience. You can make it interactive and play Pictionary or send letters back and forth to each other. Lastly, there are tons of Reusable Sticker Books that are great for travel since you can’t ruin the stickers and you can play over and over again. You’ll want to pack games without pieces that may get lost, quiet options since repetitive noises are the pits, and most importantly activities that motivate your little one.
- Word Games For The Win
Not surprisingly, I always vote to play word games because they don’t require supplies and they boost speech and language! Trips are ideal for I Spy because of the changing scene. Guessing games are also wonderful since they encourage turn-taking, joint attention, and thinking outside of context. My family loves the animal guessing game where we give hints with facts on the animal in mind. I also recently came across Family Talk, which is a portable stack of silly and obscure questions that are very kid-friendly!
- Plan The Breaks
You are going to need breaks for the bathroom and to get rid of the wiggles! Prioritize finding tiny bathrooms and great playgrounds. Make sure to schedule the stops based on your tiny friend’s usual schedule. And if you are on a train or a plane, a simple walk up and down the aisle can be a game changer.
- Snack Smart
Snacks will certainly affect your little one’s behavior and the overall vibe of the ride. Full bellies – sugar = happiness. Pack ahead if you can, so that you are not relying on fast food options or varying grocery stores. Everyone craves crispy & crunchy snacks during trips so cut up some carrots, celery, or apple slices. Protein is also key to keep us feeling full, so you’ll want to pack some peanut butter, turkey rolls ups, or cheese sticks.
Molly Dresner is a Speech Language Pathologist based in New York City.
She recently authored The Speech Teacher’s Handbook, an engaging parent guide that includes practical and easy-to-follow tips and activities to help you help your little one!