5 Creative and Cool Ways to Keep a Toddler Entertained When You’re Traveling

Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump
Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

This post was written by Erin Austen Abbott, one of the women on the chARTer Nannies team. She’s also owner of the chic boutique, Amelia, in Oxford, Mississippi.

So many times, while working as a travel nanny, I’d find myself at the hotel, with nothing really that close to us. You can only walk the parking lot so many times before the hotel staff starts to worry about you and many times the pool is so chlorinated, that you can’t leave that as an option either for those little ones.

Here are some tips to keep you and your toddler active and engaged when you’re stuck at the airport or the hotel (hint: You can try these out at home too!).

1. Get painting! I always pack non-toxic finger paint. Tub painting is such a fun activity and the clean up is so easy! Children love covering themselves in the paint and parents or nannies love the rinse factor. Just put on a diaper and have fun! Plus, it’s a great sensory activity for children. My son, who is 20 months, has been tub painting since he was four months old and over time, as he gets older, we talk about different aspects about the art. We talk about how it feels in his fingers and the ways colors mix together.

2. Draw on the windows. We love using washable markers on the hotel windows. You can easily wipe them clean when done. For children a little older, like three years old, a fun game would be to have them find all the red cars that are in the parking lot below the hotel window. When they “spy” the red cars, have them circle it on the window. Drawing birds in the sky or cloud animals would also be a great extension of window drawing or a game of tic-tac-toe.

3. Make a mess out of the bed. Pillow forts. This is a given on the fun factor and sometimes as much fun for the adult as it is the child. Guilty as charged. We always ask for extra pillows from house keeping to add to the castle. This activity is great for building imagination and fun for an impromptu game of hide and go seek in toddlers.

4. Let there be…. tape!One of my never-forget items when packing for trips is a roll of painters tape. It is so clever for children to create tracks on the floor for their cars or art for the walls. It just peels away when done. Pro tip: This works well on airplanes too.

5. Have a party. Turn on the hotel room radio and have a DANCE PARTY! Play a game of freeze frame by turning down the music and see who has the silliest “freeze.”  Another part of the dance party is to encourage children to move to the beat of the song that comes on, whether it be slow or fast. This is such an effective way to let them get some of that energy out.

When all else fails, repeat this list (but just make sure to have fun along the way!).

How do you keep your toddler engaged on trips and while traveling?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Top 10 Apps for Two-Year-Olds

Toddler Road-Trip Tips?

Tips for Traveling With Babies and Toddlers