travel temperament

Tips for Travel with Kids of Every Temperament

This year our contributors gave recommendations for travel to more than a dozen new destinations, including the U.S. Virgin IslandsDallas-Fort WorthLondon, Catalina IslandKyotoZion National ParkHavana, and Philadelphia, just to name a few. If you’re looking for travel inspiration for 2017, remember you can always browse our recommended destinations in the left side bar at Family Travel 411.

Meanwhile, at our sister site,, I was spilling the beans from my recipe for the “secret sauce” that makes travel with kids all the more enjoyable. Truth is, understanding your child’s dominant “temperament” traits–and how to best plan travel with those in mind–is the secret to happier family travels with kids of any age.

Fast adapting or slow? High energy or low? Take a look at the major temperament traits below and see which are key traits for your child(ren), then click through for the post with tips specific to travel with that temperament trait.

Energy Level: High Energy vs. Low Energy

High Energy – Is your child highly active, needing much more physical exercise and freedom than many of his peers? Does it seem like he’s constantly on the move, even when he’s playing in one area? –> See Advice for Travel with a High-Energy Child

Low Energy – The low-energy child is more relaxed and content to sit still for long periods of time than many of his peers–and possibly siblings. He is willing to play with toys in one area of the room, or calmly watch TV without needing other activities (toys!) at the same time. He’s he able to stay mentally engaged for long periods of time, eg. while looking at books or works on a picture, without getting antsy. But while this all may sound like the recipe for an easy traveler, he can also use up his energy reserves quickly during active travel and stimulating new experiences.  See –> Advice for Travel with a Low-Energy Child

Approach to New Things: Eager vs. Cautious

Eager – Does he rush into new places, ready to explore, find the best toys, and make new friends? To see what snacks might be available? Is he happy to try a new food or wear a new jacket? –> See Advice for Travel with the Eager Child

Cautious – Is he slow to warm up to new people and surroundings? Is he hesitant to talk with strangers and new acquaintances, turning away from them and in toward you? Does he prefer tried and true toys and clothes, and the same favorite book? –> See Advice for Travel with the Cautious Child

Adaptability: Fast-Adapting vs. Slow-Adapting

Fast-adapting – Does she adjust quickly to changes in routine or scenery, go with the flow when it’s time to change from the crib to the toddler bed, or wear the purple pajamas instead of the pink without complaint? –> See Advice for Travel with the Fast-Adapting Child

Slow-adapting – Does it take a while for her to sleep or eat normally in new settings? Is it a big problem if the usual nightlight, stuffed animal, or book isn’t present at bedtime? –> See Advice for Travel with the Slow-Adapting Child

Attention Span: Focused vs. Distractible

Very Distractible – Is your child easily distracted from the activity at hand, jumping up from story time to investigate a toy across the room? Is it easy to move from an outburst to a new activity by simply suggesting it? –> See Advice for Travel with the Very Distractible Child

Very Focused – Does she focus well on one activity or toy at a time, regardless of changes around her? Is it a challenge to change activities when she’s engaged in a drawing or playing with a certain toy? –> See Advice for Travel with the Very Focused Child

Physical Regularity: Very Regular vs. Unpredictable

Very regular – Does your child keep a consistent schedule with little influence from you? Does she sleep and wake at the same times each day, nap for similar lengths of time, and even have bowel movements at predictable times? (Yes, “regular” means regular here, too!) –> See Advice for Travel with the Very Regular Child

Unpredictable – Do her physiological needs and functions vary from day to day, with different waking times and varied lengths of naps? Is it hard to anticipate when the next bowel movement will strike? Or whether or not she will take an afternoon nap? And if she’s up late one night, does she easily make up for lost sleep as needed? –> See Advice for Travel with the Unpredictable Child

Intensity: Intense vs. Mellow

Intense – Does he express his likes and dislikes on a grand scale? Does he use his body to help express his feelings, tensing muscles or emphasizing with his hands? –> See Advice for Travel with the Intense Child

Mellow – Do you need to watch closely or ask to know if he is enjoying something or not? Do you need to remind him to take off his jacket when he gets too warm? –> See Advice for Travel with the Mellow Child

Mood: Positive vs. Negative

Positive – Does your child usually look at the world through rose-colored glasses? Does she most often walk into the room with a smile? Does she assume unknown children will be friends? –> See Advice for Travel with the Positive Child

Negative – Does she frequently anticipate trouble or disappointment, view new children or toys with suspicion, or first see other kids as a potential threat? Does it take a little time for her to be convinced and the clouds to clear? –> Advice for Travel with the “Negative” Child

Wishing you happy holidays and safe travels. See you in 2017!

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Shelly Rivoli

Founder, Editor, & Chief Adventure Officer at Family Travel 411 and Travels with Baby
Shelly Rivoli is the award-winning author behind the Travels with Baby guidebooks and Travels with Baby website and blog, and is the founding editor of Family Travel 411. When she isn't traveling with her husband and three children, she hangs her hat in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter: @travelswithbaby and Facebook: Shelly Rivoli.
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