The Best Way to Make Travel Easier

Creating a Travel Rhythm

We looked at the map. We had plotted our car ride for the 6 hours it would take for us to get to the beach. My husband and I then thought how that seemed daunting with kids.

That first time it may have been daunting, but since then we have seen how it really isn’t as bad as it seems. Traveling with kids just takes planning. That planning may need to include adding a little extra to your travel time, but it is always manageable. I am going to give you something that has helped us so much and I hope it helps you also!

What is a Travel Rhythm?

When we first started traveling with children, we definitely did not have a rhythm. With infants travel is different because their rhythm is already set. The rhythm is simply their eating and diaper changing schedule. However, eventually the children start getting restless after sitting for long periods of time. Do not let this scare you!

A travel rhythm is when you put together ways to keep your children busy while traveling and putting these things to a schedule. Having several activities the children (any age, even you) enjoy doing in the car and putting them into a rotation during the drive will help you all keep your sanity.

Click Here for a Free Travel Rhythms Worksheet!

A travel rhythm can be used for any time you are traveling with your children for any amount of time, but it would be most useful for more than 2 hours of travel. We have used this concept of a travel rhythm on car rides, flights, and train rides. So, I hope this travel rhythm will set you up with confidence no matter how you travel.

Our Travel Activity Books include our Travel Rhythm Worksheet!

Travel Rhythm Examples

Below I will list several options for rhythms. These will give you an idea of how a travel rhythm works and can work for your family.

20 Minute Rotation

Rhythm Option 1 – 20-minute Rotation:

20 minutes audio book, 20 minutes activity bag, 20 minutes tablet time

This is the rhythm we use the most. My children love audio books, and we love listening with them! For the activity bag, they pack a small bag with books they pick out, colors and paper, stickers, magnetiles, dry erase board and markers, or any other smaller activity they may want to put in there. We like this rhythm because it is one hour total.

Screen Free

Rhythm Option 2 – Screen Free:

30 minutes audio book and quiet activity, 15 minutes family time (discussion or game), 15 minutes individual time/activity bag

This is a rhythm that promotes family interaction and no screen time. We have loved this rhythm when we have a really interesting audio book. One that leads naturally into family discussion. My children are preschool and early elementary, and we are still able to do this rhythm. The book prompts questions they may have or leads to good questions for us to ask them. Things like, “If you were that character, what would you have done?” or “Why do you think that character did that?” It is also good to have individual time for the introverts in your family or if you need time for naps.

Movie Day

Rhythm Option 3 – Movie Day:

1 movie or show, 20 minutes discussion/family time, 20 minutes activity bag.

We usually only do this rotation one way to our destination. If there is a movie the children are particularly loving or a new movie for them to see, this is a great option. We have never had a car with built in DVD players, but these days there are so many devices that work for this most people have some way to watch a movie. Even if it is a movie they have seen a lot, bringing in family discussion time right afterwards helps them get out the words they have been holding in during the movie. My children love talking about new details they saw or really whatever comes to mind. My children cannot just do movie after movie, nor would I want them to, so we always need to break it up with other things to do.

Siblings Unite!

Rhythm Option 4 – Siblings Unite:

20 minute sibling game/activity, 20 minute family time/discussion, 20 minute activity bag/individual time

My children love playing games together, whether they are competing against each other or working together. You can find so many car games on Pinterest or even come up with your own. Doing something where they take turns to complete a task or compete against each other is another way to build on that natural family time a car presents. Breaking it up and giving them individual time helps for morale. As with most siblings, competition can lead to arguments and so can working together. My children can now go a little longer than 20 minutes, but that took practice and lots of coaching from us parents. However, putting that time into helping them understand each other is worth it!

Making it Work for Your Family

Now that I have given you some examples, I hope you understand the concept.

When coming up with your rotations think about things your children enjoy doing and will actually do for the allotted time frame. You can use smaller time options for those with short attention spans that need things to change up regularly. You can use larger time options to break up smaller rotations. Of course, snack time and restroom breaks help to break up the limited movement. Something to remember about a rhythm is that you do not have to stick hard and fast to it. Rotate an activity when the children are getting restless, but if they are good with continuing what they are doing don’t change what is working.

Here is a list of examples that can be in your rotation:

20-30 minute options

  •             Show
  •             Tablet time
  •             Discussion Time
  •             Family Time
  •             Activity Bag or Notebook
  •             Sibling Game/Activity
  •             Audio Book (with or without a quiet activity)
  •             Travel Game
  •             Snack Time
  •             Listen to a Podcast

1 hour options

  •             Movie
  •             Audio Book
  •             Family Game
  •             Listen to a Podcast

This list is definitely not comprehensive, and the goal is to make this rhythm fit for your family.

Everyone Benefits

Finally, the goal of setting a travel rhythm is to give everyone clear expectations. It helps you not lose your mind trying to keep the children entertained because a plan is already in place. It helps your children also by giving them answers within a confined space. I am definitely of the mindset that it benefits children to be bored within a known setting. However, when you disrupt a child’s normal setting it can be better for them to have structure and answers to help them feel safe and calmer. Use this rhythm for everyone’s benefit!

Our Travel Activity Books include our Travel Rhythm Worksheet!