Today we continue the “Temperament and Travel” series, featuring bi-weekly advice for traveling with children of each and every temperament. In case you missed it, the previous post in this series offers advice for Travel with a High-Energy Child. Today we look at his counterpart, with advice for Travel with a Low-Energy Child. Does this sound familiar to you?
Portrait of the Low-Energy Child:
The low-energy child is more relaxed and content to sit still for long periods of time than many of his peers–and possibly siblings. He willing to play with toys in one area of the room, or calmly watch TV without needing other activities (toys!) at the same time. He’s he able to stay mentally engaged for long periods of time, eg. while looking at books or works on a picture, without getting antsy. But while this all may sound like the recipe for an easy traveler, he can also use up his energy reserves quickly during active travel and stimulating new experiences. And when paired with high-energy parents or siblings, a successful family trip together requires thoughtful planning.
Advice for Travel with a Low-Energy Child:
This child not only tends to show a tolerance for stroller use much longer than some children, but at times he may even prefer to sit and be strolled on your vacation, and that’s just fine (see recommended travel strollers here). Simply taking in the new surroundings may be using much of his energy (especially if he is also of a Cautious or Slow-Adapting temperament–tips on those to come!). For easier travel and successful family vacations with the low-energy child, consider these points:
Choose a travel stroller that will accommodate a higher upper weight limit and longer legs (strollers rated to 40+ lbs), and you will likely get your money’s worth as you continue to use it for trips during the preschool years.
If a younger sibling arrives on the scene, consider the double and twin travel strollers that also accommodate longer legs (generally NOT the front-and-back double strollers). Or look at “buggy board” options (there are several buggy boards listed here) that will work with your younger child’s single stroller, giving the option of hitching a ride when needed without need of a twin stroller. Just be sure the buggy board is compatible with your type of stroller and ensure that its maximum weight allowance is
When planning your itinerary, build in the all-critical down time he will need each day, even if that’s time to simply sit and color with a snack in the hotel room while you review the day’s vacation photos. Or to rest in the car while you drive back from an outing or to your next destination. This will be especially important on days when you plan to dine out in the evenings.
Plan vacations packed with more sit-and-do activities than the walk-and-see variety, like building sand castles or watching sharks and jellyfish at the aquarium.
When flying with a low-energy child, don’t let his ability to sit long periods without complaint fool you. If he’s not a very frequent flyer–or is too young to remember that last flight well, the many new faces, sounds, and stimulation of the unfamiliar surroundings may also be tapping his energy reserves–much more than yours! Keep in mind that some children need a chance to recharge their batteries even after a long flight.
And remember, under no circumstances should you leave hotel or home without an extra energy snack reserved just for this traveler!
Personal note: My eldest daughter (shown above) was very content to observe the world from the baby carrier and stroller, and as a friend described, even as a baby she seemed to “devour the world with her eyes.” When she got older, we discovered she is a very talented artist–and I soon realized that every place we visited together she was probably “seeing” about three times more than we were. I wouldn’t say she uses less energy than the rest of us at all, she just uses it differently.
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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:
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks
What?! Your kids aren’t babies anymore? Head over to Family Travel 411