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4 Tips to Teach Kids about Traveling

2013-04-11 by Melissa & Doug

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In this family travel series of posts, three blogger moms will offer their tips & tricks from the road as they trek across the country with their families this summer, staying in hotels, cabins, and tents. 

As any parent knows, kids often don’t realize what traveling in such close quarters is really like. So this week, we’re helping you “grease the wheels” for your next family vacation with tips to help your kids understand — and get comfortable with — different modes of transportation through pretend travel adventures.


Using toy vehicles (like Whittle World toys) in pretend play is a great way to teach children about the different modes of transportation. Children can create stories and games for passengers getting in and out of buses, planes, trains, and cars while concocting pretend travel adventures of their own.

Here are 4 tips for using toys, games, and pretend play to teach your child about different forms of transportation your family may use this summer:


Nothing beats the speed of a plane to get you from one part of the country to any other place in the WORLD. Using an airport-themed set, children can improve fine motor skills as they explore the parts of a plane, have passengers board and exit a plane, and bring their luggage back and forth to the airplane — It’s just like what they’ll see on a real plane trip!

kid and toy plane


Trains are speedy and provide beautiful views as they travel across the country. Practice storytelling skills by asking your child to load people onto a wooden train set one by one as he or she tells you a story about each passenger. Where are they traveling today? What sort of terrain will the train pass through? Will any of the passengers get off at the same stop? Do the riders like to play any travel games together? (This is a great way to brainstorm which pretend travel adventures the child would enjoy.)

toy train


Teach your child how buses help conserve fuel by carrying a whole group of people who are all going in the same direction, instead of each person driving a separate car or truck. Point out how buses are a great way to travel with friends, to meet new people, and to spend more time with their family (since the driving is left to a professional). You could have your child build a town with blocks. Then as a toy bus travels from stop to stop, sing “The Wheels On the Bus” as you make the doors on the bus “open and close” or the people on the bus “go up and down” all over town — and BEYOND!

wooden bus


Taking a summer road trip by car provides lots of “family togetherness” time. Keep everyone entertained by playing car games. Classic games like Travel Bingo or the License Plate Game are perennial favorites. You could also make a game of spotting different kinds of traffic signs or vehicles on the road (which you can teach with a Wooden Vehicles and Traffic Signs set). See who can be the first one to spot a school bus, a taxi, a garbage truck, a one-way sign, and more!


It’s easy to dream up a world of pretend travel adventures right in your own living room! So get started preparing your little ones for all the exciting transportation adventures that await them as you hit the open road (or tracks or air).

Where are YOU planning to go for your next vacation, and how will you get there? Share your transportation tips in the Comments below, or chat with us on our Melissa & Doug Facebook page.

And don’t miss our Traveling with Kids Pinterest board for tons of handy tips and ideas for making traveling with kids a cinch!

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Melissa & Doug

Our team of play experts occasionally enjoys sharing news about our company, new product launches, and some of the #CountlessWaysToPlay with our toys, crafts, and games. At Melissa & Doug, we’re on a mission to inspire the innovators of tomorrow through kid-powered play!

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