Montessori Parenting: Tips to travel with children

With the Summer holidays around the corner, it was about time that I share some tips about travelling with children.

When my daughter was little, we used to travel between Ireland and Belgium every 3 months. Then between London to Belgium. We had to take the plane or the Euro star so often!

At the time, we didn't have an Ipad or a smartphone. Therefore, I had to be creative to keep her entertained and to make our travelling journey as smooth as possible!

Here are my tips to travel with children Montessori style!

Encourage your child's independence:

Depending on your child's age, encourage them to pack their luggage with you. They could choose their outfits and some toys/books to take away.

My children had a Trunki suitcase. Not only it is a fun suitcase but they can also sit on it and you pull them over. We also had the Trunki carseat/backpack. It was very useful to use on a plane as a booster seat and as proper carseat abroad.

A fun backpack with their belongings will make them feel all grown up.

Snacks and more snacks

Prepare some "healthy" snacks that take ages to eat. We use to have raisins, carrots and bread sticks and many other small healthy snacks to nimble on for hours. 

A lunch box with compartments, like a bento box, can be very useful.

Busy bags:

I wish I had taken a few pictures at the time. I used to make some busy bags with some super easy DIY activities stored in ziplog bags. 

For example:

  1. cut some calendar pictures or postcards in different pieces to make a easy jigsaw.
  2. Some dry pasta and a pipe cleaner for an super easy lacing activity.
  3. Some numbers written on cardstock and some buttons to count.
  4. Pictures of animals + our collection of Schleish animals.
  5. Mini playdough tubes + a few cookie cutters.
  6. Make a lacing card with a nice picture and add a lace.
  7. Cut some flat sponges in various shapes for a quick (and silent) blocks/shapes set.
  8. Make a button snake.
  9. Add numbers or colour to a set of wooden pegs and add those colour or number on the rim of a paper plate, your child will have to peg around the paper plate.
  10. Cut some shapes, elements for face, for a house, for a rainbow out of felt and don't forget to pack an A4 felt sheet as the board. 

Look around your house for toys or games that are small enough to be store in a freezer bags. 

And pack lots of stickers, small notepads and some crayons.

Travelling activities:

The following toys and activities are perfect when you travel as non-messy!

Travel Aquadoodle:

Smaller than the original Aquadoodle, it's perfect to use in the car or on plane/train journey. We had the exact same for my daughter. 

Water painting:

There are many brands to choose from. These are basically "magic" books as your child reveals the picture by painting with a paintbrush dipped in water.

I like these ones.

Magnetic books

There is collection of books called "My first book of magnet" and we had one of them. It provided hours of entertainment! When you arrive at your destination, try to find something magnetic in your room (or location) to extend the use during your vacation. We also tried everything around us in the plane to test if something was magnetic.

Learn about your destination:

If you are traveling to a new country or to the seaside/mountain for the first place, then read some books about it in the days prior to travelling. 

Make your child familiar with the new ways of transport:

If your child is about to take a plane, boat or train for the first time, explore with books what it might look like.

Some great books:

  1. Look inside things that go
  2. Busy Airport
  3. Airport stickers and colouring book
  4. Look inside an airport
  5. First sticker book of trains

Tips for older children:

If you need tips to keep your child away from the screen while traveling, try one of those ideas. They might require you to be engaged. 

  • I spy game is a classic. It can be finding something in the car (train or plane) that starts with, of a certain colour, of a certain category.
  • Tally games for the road. Give a clipboard to everyone with a paper and a pen and ask them to count how many trucks they see (or any other items you can think of: trees, lamp posts, bridges, a specific brand of car...)
  • Play tic-tac-toe or hangman
  • Have some travel board games with you. I still have fond memory of me and my brother playing such games for hours in the back of the car! 
  • Don't forget to pack a classic card game and UNO is the favourite here!
  • Make up some stories: one starts with "Once upon a time, there was a", the first one introduces a character then finishes with "Who", the second explains what the character is doing or where they live, the third one is explaining a twist, then the next one explain more or give a solution then someone ends the story. You tell the story for as long as you want... Some cards can help if you are not great at imagining from scratch.

I hope those tips are useful for you! If you want to share some more, leave a comment!

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.