How to Keep Kids Entertained While Traveling

How to Keep Kids Entertained While Traveling

17 May 2022 • Words by Nanette Botha 3 mins

So often parents expect that when they have kids, any plans of traveling would need to be on hold until the children are old enough to be more independent. Traveling with children can be tricky.  According to Kohl & Barnett (2020) traveling can be even more challenging if you have a child with additional needs. However, if we know how to support and entertain our kids when we are traveling, we can make these journeys an enjoyable experience for them (and for us) too.

There are a few things to take into consideration when we plan to do a road trip with our children. It might entail spending long periods of time in the car, they will be constrained to a car seat and would not necessarily know how long this journey will last.

Take a moment to think about this scenario. If we do not know how to entertain our kids in the car, we are going to sit with a child who feels constrained, not being able to move freely and not knowing how long they will feel that way – most certainly not a picture of a relaxing holiday ahead. However, if we understand the “problems” that may arise, we can work towards finding some ways to support our kids.

Here are some ideas to help keep your kids entertained while traveling in the car (or other modes of transport):

Pack a bag filled with a variety of sensory toys

Things to pull on, things to squeeze, a few interesting objects, toys to look at (kaleidoscopes are great), and perhaps even something to chew on. Not only will your child enjoy playing with these toys, but they will also receive sensory input at the same time. The right sensory input helps our children to stay calm and regulated – exactly what we need when traveling. Make sure every item is safe for your child to use independently as you do not want to be concerned about your child’s safety when you are concentrating on driving.

Movement breaks

Stop as often as you need to, and let your child out of the car to run around and move around freely. When you plan your road trip, be sure to plan for many stops along the way. It will take some extra time, but it will make the trip more manageable for your child and for you. You can show your child on a visual schedule (or by using a visual timer) when you will stop to take a break. Remember to then also let them know how long the break will be. We always feel more in control when we know what to expect – it is no different for our kids.

Pack a comfortable pair of headphones and let your child listen to stories, songs, or even nature sounds while traveling

Even though some children do not have trouble with motion sickness, it might not be ideal for them to look at a device in the car. The Moshi app is perfect to use as it has many different stories, music, and songs to choose from, and it is all audio (no need to look at a screen) You can even do some meditation with your child using Moshi! 

Planning a road trip with your family should be an exciting event and if you are well prepared, it will make it easier for the whole family. Try to leave enough time to plan and prepare for the actual traveling part – it is easy to focus on the destination and forget about the journey, but if you use these tips, it will support you in having an enjoyable experience right from the time you leave home.

Safe travels and remember to take lots of photos!

Kohl, S. E., & Barnett, E. D. (2020). What do we know about travel for children with special health care needs? A review of the literature. Travel medicine and infectious disease, 34, 101438.

Nanette Botha

Educational specialist & mother of 3 young children Co-founder: AIMS Global & Leadership at: Augmental