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

travel with the distractible child

See ya! The “distractible child” never stops exploring… (Inspired by this image? See my feature The 411 on Kauai with Kids.)

Greetings, Travels with Baby readers!

I just recently returned from an incredible adventure in China, recovered from the virus and most of the jetlag that was bound to follow my excitement there, and am swinging back up onto the saddle here to deliver loads more travel tips this season to help ease your family’s upcoming travels.

A quick note to new subscribers (welcome!): You can find many helpful tips online already through our Destinations directory, Air Travel Tips index, Driving and Road Trips Tips index, and of course in the 400+ page Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.

And now, for the final installment of the Temperament and Travel series (complete series listed below), featuring advice for Travel with the “Very Distractible Child.” Does your child fall more toward this end of the Attention Span spectrum?

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 (previous feature) – 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?

Advice for Travel with the Very Distractible Child

Flexible time–and attitude:

You may need to pack a little extra patience–and build in a little extra time–when traveling with this child, as a crack in the ground on the path to the beach may be every bit as interesting to him as the beach itself. You never know when something will catch his fancy, or what it will be next.

Eating and feeding:

This child may have trouble eating enough at meal times while you are out at restaurants, in a ship’s dining room, or on an airplane or a train. Help him stay focused on his food—and seated at the table—by bringing a familiar travel dining booster and seating him as far from the busiest distractions as possible, like away from the kitchen, the entrance, or windows, if possible. You may even want to feed him something in your room first to be sure he gets enough to eat.

Safety considerations:

Be extra cautious with this child in airports and especially at crowded train stations where something may catch his attention before you realize he’s off and exploring.

Use your stroller to keep your child safely strapped in while you check in at the airport or use a public restroom. Child safety harnesses (a.k.a. “leashes”) could be a very wise idea for toddlers and early preschoolers that are prone to bolting or wandering wherever there’s just too much exciting new stuff to see, observe, and explore—especially if yours is also a Highly-Energy child.

Plan ahead for childproofing your hotel room or vacation rental, especially the exits! Door knob covers may be especially helpful during travel with curious toddlers (see more in Childproofing and Travel Safety products).

Sleeping and napping:

Be prepared that your child may not sleep a wink on the airplane or train with so much to observe and possibly explore (see Changes in Sleeping Routines and Changes in Napping Routines, beginning on pg. 88 of  Travels with Baby).

Silver lining:

On the bright side, with your positive and enthusiastic prompting, this child will usually move from one site or activity to the next without much hesitation, allowing you to enjoy many experiences during travel, even on shorter vacations.

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.

travels with baby book coverHave you seen the latest features at our sister site, Family Travel 411?

The 411 on Bruges with Kids

The 411 on San Miguel de Allende with Kids

The 411 on Carlsbad with Kids

The 411 on County Cork with Kids

The 411 on Dallas-Fort Worth with Kids

The 411 on Cape Cod with Kids

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

Advice for Travel with the Very Focused Child

Advice for Travel with the Very Distractible Child–above

Safe journeys,

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

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What?! Your kids aren’t babies anymore? Head over to Family Travel 411

Curious about this content? See my editorial content disclosure.

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