Staying Active When Traveling With Kids

Original Version of Story Published by UNICEF Kid Power

Guest Post for #PHABack2School

Image of a family standing at an airport with suitcases. Thinking about taking a road trip? If so, you know that while travel is great fun for the whole family, kids can get antsy in transit—making themselves and everyone else crazy!

Whether you’re taking planes, trains or automobiles, making sure the kids get in some active play before they have to sit still makes things easier on everyone. (For some more great active ideas check out our (family fitness tips). Here are some vacation exercise ideas to road-test this week!

Airports: Waiting to go through security or board at the gate is a great time to give your kids a cross-fit challenge: 3 reps of 20 jumping jacks, squats and pushups, rounded out with 30-second plank will tire them out for the plane ride and make the time go by. If you arrive at your gate with enough time to spare —and are traveling with another adult—one of you can watch the carry-on luggage while the other takes the kids for a power walk. Or check out the fitness center at the Baltimore Washington Airport, or the completely free yoga rooms at the San Francisco Airport or the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport! If you don’t make it to the gate with time to spare, don’t worry! We were stoked to learn from WebMD that JetBlue Airways and Crunch Fitness distribute Airplane Yoga and Airplane Pilates cards exercises you can do without leaving your seat. And in case you’re wondering as to the benefits of yoga, we’ve got you covered here.

On the road: Are we there yets? from the back seat make most of us plot the shortest distance between home and where we’re headed. Before you set out, enlist the kids to help you map out when and where to stop and what you’ll do when you get there. Set the stopwatch on your phone and challenge them to see how many reps of the cross-fit circuit above they can complete. At stops with ample space, have them design an obstacle course—and ask them to run it as many times as they can. Even 15-minutes or a half-hour pit stop at a park, mall and other attractions en route work wonders when kids can’t sit still but you still have miles to go.

At the hotel: Road trip hotel stays can be as enticing for kids as the ultimate destination. Pick one with a pool, and a late afternoon or early a.m. swim can be the best reward and preparation for a long drive. Staying somewhere with a workout facility? There’s no reason older kids can’t accompany you for 20 minutes on the treadmill or exercise bike. No facilities at all? Five minutes to jump on the bed followed by a family yoga session is all they need to blow off a little steam before getting back on the road.

Anywhere! The beauty of traveling by car — you can throw hand weights, soccer balls, and any other fitness equipment you and your kids might desire into the trunk. Have a bike rack? Kids can get enough exercise doing laps around a rest stop or a quick mile or two on a bike trail that they might actually take a nap —or be content to rest — for the next stretch. When traveling by plane, the loose comfortable clothing that makes cabin time cozy is equally suited to an impromptu bout of fitness. Just pack a jump rope and wear sneakers and you’ll all be ready for anything!