Tips for Traveling with Kids during the Summer!

As summer approaches planning family trips, whether it’s a road trip to the Poconos or a plane ride to Disneyland, always guarantees a fun summer full of amazing memories. Sometimes traveling to our destination takes a long time, making it difficult for kids to get their needs met while in a confined space for a long period of time. This can result in sensory overload or a lack of sensory input and lead to meltdowns. Below is a list of ideas you can use to provide your child with adequate sensory input in order to limit meltdowns and make more family memories.

Planning a long road trip or plane ride? Pre-plan movement breaks for your kiddo!

– If you’re on a plane, set a timer for 30 minutes and let your kiddo walk up and down the aisle with you for 3 minutes, you can even add eye-spy or count how many seats they walk past to make it more fun and engaging!

– If you’re on a bumpy plane ride and are not allowed to walk up and down the aisle, have your little one stand up and sit down for 3 minutes, having them reach as high as they can to try to touch the overhead baggage area! If you have room in your carry-on bag, pack their favorite stuffed animal to increase motivation to stand and reach!

– During a road trip, map out where there are rest stops on the way to your destination and plan movement breaks every few hours – a 10-minute nature walk to locate rocks, sticks, birds, etc., pack chalk and play hopscotch next to your car, pack a ball and play catch or soccer next your car!

– If there are no safe rest areas on your travels for outdoor activities, stop at a big rest stop and have your kids help you pick out and carry back to the car snacks and water

o TIP – carrying heavy items to the car will provide proprioceptive input to assist in regulation

o This can also be used if you are sitting at the airport waiting for your flight!

Pack a sensory backpack!

– Place fidgets, earplugs, a weighted blanket, bubbles, basically anything your little one loves and uses on a daily basis into a backpack for easy access on a plane or in a car!

o TIP – have them carry their own backpack for increased proprioceptive input


– Kids love playing games, and the more interactive the games are, the better!

– If you have multiple kids, buying magnetic games such as Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe, Checkers, Auto race, and Snakes and Ladders are a great way to promote family fun while working on turn-taking, direction following, and fine motor strength!

o Games like Wooly Willy and Paw Patrol – Magnetic Creations Tin are great for one or multiple kids to engage in creative play while working on graphomotor skills and imaginative play.

– Play the License Plate game!

o How many different license plates can your kids find on the road trip?

o TIP – make it more interesting by looking up a fun fact about each state you find!

– Play Eye-Spy

o Have your kids locate items in your car/on the plane/in the airport

o Have your kids count how many red, blue, black, silver, etc., cars they see or have them watch the] planes taking off and add in storytelling by having them make up stories about where the planes are heading, who is on the plane, and what are they doing when they get to their destination!

– Word games

o Picnic Game – we’ve all played “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring…” during our childhood, why not play it with your kids! This game is great for sustaining attention and working memory!

o The Alphabet Game – each person takes a turn to locate an item that starts with the letters of the alphabet!


– Packing crunchy and chewy snacks are a way to provide deep-pressure input without a movement break.

– Packing pretzels, lollipops, fruit snacks, dried fruit, Twizzlers, etc,. is a great way to give your kiddo the proprioceptive input they may be seeking.

Written by Cassandra Krummel, OTS