Traveling with Kids? 5 Ways to Reduce Stress and Keep Them Occupied


While family vacations can be a fun way to spend quality time together away from the distractions of home, they can also be extremely stressful. As any parent knows, the most difficult part of a vacation is getting increasingly restless children calm in the time it takes to travel from point A to point B. Here are a few suggestions on how to keep kids occupied while traveling.

Tell Your Child about the Wonder of Flight

For most adults, flying isn’t that special. Over time, inconveniences like delayed flights, overly crowded planes and or layovers that leave you stranded in an out-of-the-way airport for hours at a time make flying seem like an unpleasant necessity. However, flying can still be a thrilling experience for children. If you take the time to explain your child exactly what’s happening during each stage of the flight, there’s a good chance he or she will find the experience awe-inspiring instead of tedious. And by focusing your child’s attention on what the world looks like at 35,000 feet up, she’ll be too amazed to be bored.

Bring a Tablet

Tablet computers are great for keeping kids occupied on long trips because they offer so many different ways to hold your child’s attention. For instance, you could bring one of your child’s favorite books with the idea that they read during the flight or in the car, but they could end up being too restless to focus on reading. With a tablet, you child can simply close the eReader program when they get bored and switch to a more engaging activity. For less than $100, you can purchase a tablet that can be loaded with a variety of books, movies, TV shows and interactive games that will keep your children occupied on even the longest flight or road trip. It almost goes without saying that a pair of headphone should be packed along with a tablet.

Pack Some Snacks

Just as kids can’t get to sleep if they’re hungry, children typically can’t get through a long trip without a few snacks. You’ll want to avoid any sweet treats because they will spike your child’s blood sugar levels and cause them to become hyperactive and moody. Snacks like nuts, cheese and lean meats are good because their high fat content will satisfy hunger without any biochemistry-altering side effects. It’s also a good idea to have a large supply of liquids at the ready. 

Dress Them Comfortably

While it’s important to make sure your children are properly dressed for the climate of your destination, it’s also important that they are comfortable during the trip. Adding on too many layers may cause them to become hot and fidgety. You should also be aware of the fact that if your family is traveling on a plane or other mode of transport that places passengers in a confined space, you won’t have enough space to store and retrieve your children’s outerwear.

Select an Optimal Travel Time

One easy way to make travel with children less stressful is to select a travel time that takes their circadian rhythms into account. Starting your journey late at night or in the early morning with hope that your child will sleep through the bulk of it may not have the desired outcome. If your children end up staying awake during a trip that takes place when they are normally asleep, they will likely become irritable and cranky. Ideally, you’ll want to plan the beginning of your trip in a way that doesn’t have a significant impact on your child’s sleep schedule.