If you are a parent to a toddler, you know what that this age group has a unique set of challenges that can frazzle even the most seasoned parent. They love to keep us on our toes, surprise us with their ability to move at lighting speeds, and yet they’re not quite old enough to understand reasoning.
If you are part of a family who loves to travel, chances are you’ll quickly discover how challenging that can be with a toddler in tow. It can be hard enough to make it through a weekly grocery store trip with your three year old so if the thought of boarding a plane and venturing off somewhere new with them sounds like a lot of work – we understand!
You don’t need to put your family travel on hold until your kids are out of toddler-hood, using some smart planning and keeping some simple truths about toddlers, traveling with your toddler can be a piece of cake.
Here are 5 must-know tips about traveling with toddlers all parents should read:
1. Pack smart.
If you’re trying to travel with a toddler you’ll want to make sure you pack smart, but not over-pack. Joshua Boles, father to three children, suggests that keeping the packed items to only necessities can be a big help for keeping the whole family happy, “we went to Disney World and only packed clothes, [there was] nothing for them to fight over and less luggage to haul.”
2. Think ahead.
If you’ve traveled yourself, you know how hard it can be to pack everything and fit it all in your luggage. That task can be even more challenging when you’re packing for more than one person and that’s why Tonya Krystik, mother to twin boys, suggests you ask for a little help instead, “If you know someone where you are going, send them a list of things to pick up, borrow, buy [that you’ll need for your kids]. You can reimburse them when you get there instead of bringing it all with you.”
3. Bring snacks and toys.
Adults don’t like to go too long without eating and toddlers are even more strict about when and how they want their snack. Emily Gaede, mother to two young children says that if you’re planning to travel with your toddler, you want to make sure you have plenty of snacks and toys, “For long trips, I pack a couple books, and let [my child] choose a couple small toys. But always snacks!”
Alexandra Rosas, mother of three children, would keep her toddlers happy with the use of new things, “When I had two under the age of 3, I had a separate backpack with all new things for them: new books, new small toys, [and] ew snacks. The novelty of it all kept them enthralled for the flight.”
4. Travel at ideal times.
Toddlers are creatures of routine and if you are traveling, you’ll want to keep their nap and food schedules in mind. Try to start your long drive or schedule your flight for when your child would normally be sleeping and they’ll be more likely to sleep well on the way. You will want to avoid fights that start around the time they’re due for lunch and if you’re driving, make sure you have a lot of snacks, drinks, and time scheduled for stops.
4. Wear your toddler out first.
If you’re headed for a long flight with your child, Tonya, mother of two who blogs at Letters for Lucas (& Lola), suggests you use the airport waits to your benefit, “once at the airport, spend a lot of time walking around. You want to tire your child out and burn off some of that extra energy so they can sit still for some of the flight.”
Consider packing a lightweight, easy-to-use carrier to help wear out your child or lull them to sleep like the Wacotto Baby Carrier before a flight. It won’t take up any extra space in your carry-on and you’ll reap the benefits of babywearing.
What are your tips for traveling with a toddler?