Keeping Young Kids Occupied While Traveling

Taking young kids on long journeys can be challenging. Young kids have short attention spans and can get easily frustrated when sat in a car, train, or plane for long periods. By finding ways to occupy them, you can keep them happy (and, in return, protect your own sanity). Below are just a few different ways to occupy young kids while traveling. 

Bring a bag of toys

Allow your child to choose some toys to play with during the journey and put them in a bag to bring with you. It’s good to keep the number of toys to a small number so that you can keep track of them. Keeping the toys in a bag will meanwhile allow you to keep them contained so that they don’t get lost. 

You could consider introducing a rule in which your child can only play with two toys from the bag at a time. These can then be regularly swapped every half hour or so. This could stop your child from getting bored of the same toys. 

Download something for them to watch

Allowing kids to watch movies or TV shows could be one effective way to occupy them. However, you may not be able to stream these movies and TV shows online while on the move. For this reason, consider downloading something for them to watch instead. This could be a video on Netflix or even a video on YouTube (check online to see guides on how to download Youtube videos on iPhone). Videos can take up a lot of storage space so bear this in mind. 

Listen to some music

Does your child like listening to music? You could plan to bring some headphones and let them listen to some tunes – or, if you’re in the car, you could play some music out loud and have a singalong. This is unlikely to keep kids occupied for a whole journey, but could be something to do if they get bored of watching films or playing with toys. 

Play family games while traveling

Games like ‘I Spy’ are great on long journeys and are a great way of getting everyone involved. When it comes to long road trips, there are many road games that you can play. On a train or on a plane, you may be able to play basic card games like Snap or Top Trump to keep kids occupied. 

Bring some coloring books

Coloring books can be a great alternative to staring at a screen. Consider buying some coloring books to bring along with you and a few coloring pencils or crayons (but not too many as you don’t want pencils and crayons everywhere). 

Go easy on sweets and liquids

Sweets and drinks may seem like a good way to occupy your child, but this could backfire. Too much sugar could make your child more hyperactive and less patient on a long journey. Too many liquids could meanwhile make your child need to go to the bathroom more regularly – which could be a nuisance on a car journey. 

Avoid messy foods and messy toys

Foods like chocolate can melt in a hot car and could end up being very messy. Similarly, there are some toys that can be very messy such as play dough and Lego. It’s worth banning these toys from the journey if you think they’re likely to get everywhere.

Break up long journeys where possible

After several hours, a change of environment could be good for everyone. If you’re on a long car journey, plan a few stops along the way so that your child doesn’t get as bored. Such breaks could be particularly important for allowing kids to use the bathroom, however you could also plan small attractions. 

When it comes to long plane and train journeys (8 hours +), consider whether a direct flight or direct train is always the best option. Breaking up the journey will result in you getting to your destination later, however, it’s likely to be easier for young kids and could even be cheaper (not so much with trains, but possibly with flights).

Bring comforters to help them nap

Does your child need a blanket or a soft toy to help them to sleep? If so, make sure to bring this with you so that if your child is tired they can fall asleep (you don’t want them to be tired and grouchy for the rest of the journey). Most young kids don’t have too much trouble sleeping in a car but may struggle more in a plane or on a train. 


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