Best Tips for Travel with a Toddler
Just the thought of travelling with a toddler can make any parent get anxious. Things such as packing, tantrums, working around nap times, jet lag can put anyone off.
But it really doesn’t need to be something to stress too much about. With the right mindset, calm nerves, and thoughtful preparation, you can actually enjoy your trip with your toddler. Below you can find foolproof tips that (almost) guarantee a smooth-sailing travel with your toddler.
15 Tips for Travel with a Toddler
Travelling with a toddler doesn’t mean it till be difficult, it just means you will need to travel differently. Just like when you travel when you are pregnant, or when you travel with a baby, things will be different.
I have quite a bit of experience travelling with toddlers. I travelled with both of my kids since birth, all through the baby and toddler stages. I once travelled with my toddler while I was 5 months pregnant from Italy to Australia and back! It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I learned more on each trip. From my travel experience here are some tips that can hopefully help to take the stress away.
Find below 15 tips for travel with a toddler:
1. Schedule your travel during sleepy or happy time
You can’t always control every aspect of your trip, but if possible, schedule your flight or your drive during nap time, bedtime, or when your kids are still in their happy moods. This varies from child to child. Some kids are happiest in the morning, while others soon after they wake up from their naps.
2. Choose a toddler friendly destination
Although you may want to plan an adventure trip visiting multiple destinations, and planning full days out, it might not be the best for a family trip with your toddler. (Unless you are a family who is used to this type of travel).
When you plan your travel around your kids, you will enjoy yourself more. Be realistic when choosing your destination and activities. It may be basing yourself in one place for a period of time and doing some day trips. Or it may be having some down time days, rather than planning activities every day.
3. Bring lots of water and food
Chances are, there will always be a place for you to grab food and water. But what if on your long drive, you run out of these essentials and the next rest stop isn’t for another 10kms? Your toddler’s bawling his eyes out and those ten kms will feel like double.
Think about being on a flight where the food served is not to your toddler’s taste? Depending on the airline, there may not be much of a choice. Bringing their favourite drinks and snacks along with a few special goodies for desperate times will be lifesaver.
4. Pack lots of nappies and wipes
If your toddler isn’t potty-trained yet, make sure you pack enough nappies and wipes. The last thing you need happen on a trip is running out of nappies and wipes, and an uncomfortable toddler with an almost exploding nappy. You can never have too many of either one anyway. Wipes are also quite useful wiping up their faces, accidental spills, or sticky hands.
5. Bring sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer
Toddlers will touch everything and put anything in their mouths. Keep them from getting ill by constantly using sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer. You can’t completely keep all germs away, but you can at least limit them as much as possible, especially in the current world situation.
6. Pack a first aid kit, and medicine
Like I said, you can only try and prevent illnesses from happening. So, when you can’t, at least you know you’re ready with medicine.
Toddlers are also quite notorious at getting hurt. They are ever so curious, and the big, wide world is just begging to be explored. Sometimes, they get so excited in their new environment, they don’t notice a rock on the ground or a slippery slope. Or perhaps, they’re still figuring out the art of balancing.
No matter the cause, there will be a small scrape on a knee or a gash on a forehead. When you travel with a toddler, be prepared with a disinfectant, a colourful band-aid, and mummy or daddy’s kiss.
7. Pack extra clothes (or two) for you and your toddler
Situations beyond our control happen. These accidents or situations include, but not limited to motion sickness, dehydration, bleeding, diarrhea, getting dirty – whatever the reason, it ensues someone having to change clothing.
Did you notice that big puddle of mud a few feet away? No? Your toddler did and he’s already there running through it.
Did you see that step down while crossing the street? Yes? Your toddler didn’t. He just faceplanted, crying his eyes out and now you have his drool over his clothes and yours.
When you travel with a toddler, pack those extra clothes so you are prepared for these situations should they happen.
8. Use a carrier with great support
If you’re going to walk long distances without the stroller, your toddler will surely get too tired to keep going. You need to use a carrier that gives you great support to carry their weight for long periods. We recommend the Ergo Baby carrier which are both ergonomically designed to help support your back.
9. Get moving
Most toddlers will not sit still. They are far too enthralled by the new surroundings and new items they’ve never seen before. Trying to keep them quiet and still will just result to a more squirmy and louder toddler.
Pick your battles. Let your toddler be free and just follow closely. Let them walk up and down the aisle during your flight. Let them walk up the hill. Let them run on the beach. Let them stretch when you’re filling up with gas. Soon enough, they’ll become exhausted and sleep.
If you’re travelling with a spouse, partner, or another adult – tag-team, and divide and conquer. One of you can walk up and down the aisle with your toddler during the first flight, while the other rests. Next flight, the other walks, you rest.
One of you can board the plane first and getting your carry-ons in the overhead compartments, while the other boards last to let your toddler get more wiggles out. Take turns changing dirty nappies, feeding, carrying, playing, or driving. This way, you’re not both getting drained out at the same time.
11. Bring rewards for good behaviour
Wrap up your toddler’s favorite items and new toys in wrapping paper and use it as a milestone reward. For example, tell them they can receive a present for every milestone such as making it through security without fussing, waiting patiently while boarding or during a long drive, or when you reach your destination. Make it like a game of surprises and it will be fun.
12. Dress comfortably
You’ll be sitting on a plane or in a car for many hours. The weather might be iffy at your destination; it may be cold on the first day, warm the next. You’ll most likely be running after a toddler most of the time, if not all. No matter the reason, you’re better off dressed for comfort. Ensure that the clothes you wear, and pack are clothes that can easily be put on and taken off. You’ll never know when – or where – you’ll have to change yours.
13. Scrap the screen time restrictions
Whatever screentime restrictions you have for your toddler, flexibility on this will save you more than once. If you have one, bring the Ipad or Tablet so your toddler can watch shows or play games. If you are flying, get the entertainment package. Probably not the best idea to use your phone. Save your battery for emergencies or GPS. Also, don’t forget headphones. Your toddler might not be too happy not being able to hear anything. And people around you may not be so keen hearing your loud device.
14. Be flexible
Controlling a trip with a toddler is like controlling the weather. You simply can’t. So if you can be flexible it will save you a lot of stress. It might be wise to avoid having a strict nap schedule, for example. Lack of rest and sleep can be detrimental to a growing toddler, but if your child naps half an hour later than his normal schedule, try not to worry so much.
Same with bedtimes. While you may have a strict bedtime routine at home where they go to bed at 7pm, when you travel with a toddler you may need to be a bit flexible with times. Do you really want to be sitting in your room at 7pm putting your little one to sleep and then being stuck there all night? If he can stay up a little later for a few nights, or even sleep in the pram while you are out, you may get to enjoy a nice dinner.
15. Try not to care what others think
People will watch. People will judge. Everyone will have an opinion about what you are doing and how they would do it in a different way. If it gets stressful, take a deep breath, and relax for a moment. It will be ok!
Travel with a Toddler
Fun travel with a toddler is possible. Don’t sacrifice your travels because you have children. There are plenty of ways to enjoy travel with kids. Whether you have an infant, a toddler or an older child. Adapt your travel plans and you can still have a great time!