Many people think toddler travel is hard if not impossible and many put off traveling until their kids are out of the toddler stage. However, having travelled round the world with our toddler in tow I can say it is the best things we have ever done! Ok, I’m not going to say it is the easiest but I love traveling with her at this age as she brings fresh eyes and makes us do new things and in our opinion the pros outweigh the cons. Here I have rounded up some of the best toddler travel experts to give their one biggest toddler travel tips so you can master travel with a toddler in tow!
Things to Know Before you Travel with a Toddler
As with anything in travel preparation is the key – as an old teacher of mine used to say fail to prepare – prepare to fail!
Holly at Four Around the World says: “Prepare your toddler before you travel by talking with them about your upcoming trip and what to expect. You can also get them involved in your trip preparation with packing and related simple tasks, to help reduce the potential anxiety from the change in their environment and routine. They may not understand in a lot of detail, however if you work on building up their excitement, it can be a big help”.
But we think it is also important to prepare yourselves for traveling with a toddler! Make sure you readjust your expectations as toddler travel is very different to couple travel or even travel with a baby! Night outs and exploring in the evening might not be any option anymore and as long as you have readjusted your expectations you will have a good time!
What to Pack for Travelling with a Toddler
Karen at Smart Steps Australia says “My number one piece of advice for someone travelling with a toddler (or multiple toddlers, in our case) is to travel with a rucksack as your cabin luggage as you can never have enough spare hands. If you carry your flight bag on your back, it leaves your hands free to hold little hands, carry a toddler, push a buggy or to hold passports/tickets/boarding passes etc”.
Managing the Airport with a Toddler
Kate at Rolling Along with Kids says “Flying with toddlers can be daunting and I highly recommend deleting or hiding any Apps from your tablet device before you board the plane. There is nothing worse than a toddler seeing their favourite App and then not being able to play it. Saved many tantrums in our family!” While Mich at travel fun fam reminds us that you can download your child’s favourite shows before flying so you can still access them on the flight!
Marianne from Mum on the Move recommends buying a ride along suitcase as it meant her kids could ride them rather than be carries through the airport and it kept them excited about he airport experience!
How to Keep Toddlers Entertained on the Plane
I think the plane journey is probably the number one thing that puts parents off traveling with toddlers however with a bit of preparation it doesn’t have to be as daunting. Step one in Chontelle at mums little explorers opinion is to try to book the bulkhead seats so you have extra legroom! Jenn from Come Back Momma recommends this cheap and easy way to keep toddlers entertained on flights. “We pack colored post it notes. The kids stick them on the seat in front of them and the tray tables. As they got older, we could write letters on them to practice ABCs. Small colored cups for stacking. They don’t make too much noise and who cares if you lose one.” While Ania from the Traveling Twins goes further by preparing a whole pack for the flight “It could be a small vanity bag from a previous flight (the one which had contained a pair of elastic socks and a facecloth) in which I would put some small toys – similar to what you would find in a birthday party goody bag: stickers, crayons, a small notebook, small cars or bendy toys, a few templates for noughts and crosses, a lucky stone, a coin which they could can trace with paper and pencil. Anything which is small and can entertain your child. You don’t have to give them to your child all at once – you can let him/her do the lucky dip. If you assume that one thing will last for 10-15 minutes, then four or five items will give you one hour of peace.”
If flying isn’t the thing that panics you but perhaps flying solo with a toddler is the thing that sends you into a cold sweat Jenny at Planet Pilgrims has some advice: “When traveling as a single parent on an airplane with a toddler, it is advisable to become friends with some other passengers on the airplane. It does help when you have a cute kid. I never had a problem whenever I needed to go to the toilet and I just needed 5 minutes. Other passengers were always happy to help.”.
Travelling with a potty trained toddler
As with every stage of parenting, the toddler stage presents some new difficulties for traveling parents. One of the big things in this stage is potty training! Should you potty train while traveling and what do you do once you have potty trained when you travel?
Jill from Lets Travel Family says “Plan in potty breaks often so that you don’t become stressed when inevitably you will need to take them while traveling with a toddler. Whether you are full-time RVing with kids, taking a week-long road trip, or flying with a toddler be intentional with your bathroom breaks. We have found that planning in a bathroom breaks every 90 minutes while traveling usually prevents any accidents along our journey”.
For us, when we are flying with our potty trained toddler, we also put her back in pull up nappies! Not to use them instead of the regular toilet breaks (Lets face it no one wants a recession) but in case of turbulence! The last flight we had we had a solid four hours of turbulence where the seatbelt sign stayed on. As much as I wanted to get her up to go to the toilet it was impossible so the nappies were a great call! Just make sure you explain why you are doing it to the toddler in advance!
Helping toddlers sleep while traveling
We are lucky that our little one will sleep anywhere but not all toddlers are the same! If you have a toddler who like sleep routine then Lisa at FlipFLop Globetrotters recommends “a toddler travel bed. Having a safe place to sleep that was always the same and completely his really helped their boy sleep during naps and at night. It also saved us money as they didn’t have to pay for an extra bed. The one they had was similar to the KidCo PeaPod Plus, a tent-like toddler bed completely covered with mosquito netting so they didn’t have to worry about insect bites either.
At the destination
For booking accommodation Pam at Hey Miss Adventure says “COMFORT OVER SAVINGS. Of course, we still do our best to stay in budget but there are certain areas where we realized, it’s much better to aim for everyone’s comfort than keep the savings”.With our second baby around, we have become “flashpackers”, spending a little bit more (than usual) on accommodations and transportation (eg. using Grab car, which is like Uber here in SEA, instead of mass transport). The more comfortable the kids are at least in these areas, the more enjoyable the entire trip becomes, and the more our sanity stays intact! This is especially helpful if you are traveling with a little one on your own – you do whatever you can to survive!
Sinead over at Map Made Memories also has a tip for the morning should the worst happen while you are out sightseeing – “Before heading out for the day to a crowded beach, busy theme park or another popular venue, take a full frame photograph of your child on your mobile phone. If your child should get separated from you or lost, you will have an accurate description of what they are currently wearing – and one that can be widely shared instantaneously”.
The great toddler debate stroller versus carrier
I think when researching travel, especially in cities one of the top questions our readers and we ask is should we take a stroller! For me the answer to this is always yes!
The Familidoo Air Pushchair, Black Panda can be purchased on Amazon