Montessori While Traveling: What Works {Confessions of a Montessori Mom}

Montessori While Traveling: What Works

"The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences." ~Maria Montessori 

If I haven't mentioned it before, I'll say it again: we are a traveling family! I have posted before about keeping Montessori with us while we travel, but this time I want to focus a little on what we learned really works from the experiences my two kids (2.5 years and 1 year) and I had on our two-week visit to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. I want to share how I used Montessori to plan and execute our trip to help my two little ones stay happy and distracted during a couple weeks away from home! 

Airplane travel is different from road travel. I personally would rather drive than fly. I feel like I can anticipate and control any unforeseen situations that may arise, but time and money don't always lend well to driving. Our first trip of the summer (we have MANY more planned) was to visit all kinds of different family in the southwest. Our Montessori skills proved extremely helpful throughout the whole process! 

Like I have mentioned before in my Montessori While Traveling post, I'm a big believer in planning. Here are some things I did before our trip to help our trip go a little smoother.
  • Made flight reservations around my daughter's nap schedule so she would nap while in flight. 
  • Planned layovers mid-way through our flights.
  • Packed games, toys, books, and coloring materials in a bag my son could carry.
  • Packed snacks that would take a longer time to eat and I was SURE my kids would eat. (Goldfish, cut up PB&J, graham cracker pieces, milk, water) 
  • Had a plan on how I would enter the plane. (Avalyn in a carrier, carry on bag on the left shoulder, Samuel carrying his bag and holding my right hand, Samuel carrying boarding passes.)
  • Prepaid for the rental car.
  • Had a schedule of events for where we would be each day. 
Some of this may sound a little crazy. I mean, who sits around and thinks about entering a plane, weeks before the actual plane ride? Thinking about those things beforehand saved me a lot of frustration when it came time to actually do it. It is so much easier to start with "The Plan" and adjust from there than to just hope it all works out for the best. 

I packed our toy bag days beforehand. Most of the toys were new and neither of the kids knew what I packed. This really helped when it was time to entertain. Each item had a discovery time to it which was perfect to prolong the playing with each toy. Some toys we packed:
  • Button Snake
  • Keys and locks (We put ours on a chain.)  
  • Board books with colors for Avalyn
  • New books for Samuel
  • Crayons and new coloring books 
  • A collection of unopened kid's meal toys
  • 2-3 small action figures
  • Small puzzles from Target
A couple things that DID NOT WORK:
  • Target Dollar Spot 25 piece puzzles. I thought these would be great. They would be small enough to put together on the seatback tray and small enough to carry in our toy bag. BUT they were DOLLAR puzzles. So they didn't stay together. Sam started to get frustrated with the inability to keep two pieces together while adding a third. Even when we had our layover they were no help because they wouldn't stay together. I would not recommend bringing those puzzles on a travel adventure with little ones. 
  • Kid's Meal Toys. These were toys we collected for a couple months if we had a kid's meal while eating out. I didn't open them before packing them so I didn't get to screen really what they were. Many of them had MANY small, light pieces which had a tendency to fall easily off of the airplane tray. Next time, I might screen those small toys a little better and be sure I'm not wasting my limited carry-on space with something that may not be good for my age group kids. 
Photo by Marie Mack

If we had downtime in our travels, we went to a park to play. This is always great and usually readily accessible for about anywhere you are going. Our kids almost always sleep better in a new place when they have been running around at a park. 

Planning has always helped our trips go well. I hope you found a couple helpful ideas here! 

This original post was published in May of 2013. Since then we took 5 vacations and moved households twice! We are in the car a lot and my kids are used to keeping themselves entertained. I hope this post is helpful to you, especially the ideas that didn't work. ~Marie 

Are you looking for online Montessori lessons and activities! I highly recommend Lisa Nolan's Montessori for the Earth!

Linking up with Montessori Monday


Montessori While Traveling: What Works {Confessions of a Montessori Mom}