Tips for Traveling With Toddlers

It’s that time again: Time for vacation!  Exciting and fun times ahead, right?  Well, it can be a little stressful and anxiety-inducing if you plan on traveling with a toddler, but it doesn’t have to be! Below, I have listed some tried-and-true tips that will help you and your toddler to enjoy the best vacation (and ride to get there) possible!  I used several of these on my toddler on our last trip to the beach, and I must say, she was a perfect, content little angel for the whole trip…even on the drive down and back!  In fact, she made the vacation so much more enjoyable that we have already planned another beach trip in the next few months!


Tips During Transportation

Whether it be in a plane, car, boat or train, your child WILL get antsy if you don’t have something (or many things) to keep him occupied for a long period of time.  Here are some things I have used that truly do work:

  • Plan to travel during their usual nap time.  Is your daughter’s nap time around noon?  Make an effort to be traveling during her nap time.  Most children nap very well in the car and this makes a peaceful driving environment (at least for a few hours) for you as well.  If you are taking a plane or train of course, this isn’t always possible, so in this scenario, try to hold out on your daughter’s nap time until the flight (I know this isn’t always possible either, but if the flight takes off an hour or two after her scheduled nap, it won’t hurt to rearrange her schedule for a day and have her wait until you get on the plane).
  • If your toddler has his/her own seat on the plane (they will if they are above 2), I recommend bringing their car seat and strapping them into it on the plane (if the airlines allow).  This makes them feel more secure and they are more likely to sit still and even nap!
  • Make a fun pack.  A fun pack definitely works, especially when they are getting tired/fussy.  Take a freezer Ziplock bag, place some “surprises” in it, such as seashells (if you are headed to the beach), pom poms, crayons, stickers, etc….  Basically anything that they like and that doesn’t cost much and will fit into the bag.  Whenever they start to get fussy and all other methods fail, pull a toy out of the “surprise” bag.  This should guarantee you at least 5 minutes of peace per toy.  :)  My daughter LOVED the stickers, crayons and coloring book and surprise stuffed unicorn that I pulled out for her the best…and of course, the seashells because she was reminded that we are going to the beach :)
  • Invest in DVD player for your car.  This will be the best money you’ve ever spent, I promise.  Does he love Elmo?  Thomas the Train?  Have a DVD (or two) on hand and this will occupy him for quite some time.  In a plane or on a train?  Have your laptop handy to place a DVD into when the fussiness begins.
  • Have your child’s favorite treats on hand.  They will be pleasantly surprised when you open up a bag of Goldfish to surprise them, or their favorite sweet treat that they only have on special occasions.  Have a few of these on hand to pull out, just as you would with the fun pack.
  • Make sure they are comfortable.  Be sure to dress them in comfortable clothing, and bring a blanket and pillow along for them (especially if on a plane – planes can be very chilly).
  • If they need to stop and pee, let them stop and pee.  Don’t try to make them hold it just so you can get there faster.  Their little bladders don’t hold as much as an adult’s and they will have to use the restroom more often.  Accommodate for this without complaints.
  • Make some “fun stops” on the way.  Research your route.  Is their a zoo on the way?  A play ground or park of some sort?  Make an hour or so stop and let them enjoy a fun activity on the way to your destination.  It will give you and them both a good break in between travels.
  • If traveling on a plane, remember the air pressure can hurt little one’s ears.  This is a huge cause of fussiness in a toddler on the plane.  Therefore, do not discipline them if they are fussy “for no reason” on the plane.  The truth is, their little ears are probably hurting from the air pressure :(  A couple things you can have them do to help relieve this issue:  Have them hold their nose and blow.  This will, most of the time, make their ears pop.  Also, bring a drink with a straw onto the plane (you will have to purchase after you get through security) and have them drink through the straw.  This will more-than-likely help relieve stopped up ears.
  • Your toddler’s fave music:  Does she dig nursery rhymes?  Music from Yo Gabba Gabba?  Make sure you have these tunes downloaded onto your iPod, so that you can whip them out in a jiffy for a singing showdown with your little one :)
  • Games:  Have some fun game ideas on hand.  Count the cars that go by, name the colors of the cars that go by.  Come up with some things yourself, or Google “games while traveling”.  You will find a ton of free ideas.

Ok, you’ve finally arrived and your little one was happy as a lark and did great!  Now for the vacation itself:

  • Remember, this is your child’s vacation too, so plan for them as well.  Be sure to plan fun things that your toddler will enjoy.  Are you planning on doing a lot of historic sightseeing?  Chances are, your toddler will not be interested.  Therefore, you should infuse some kid-friendly activities into your vacation:  a day at the local theme park, zoo, a trip to the ice cream shop, time on the beach, even the hotel pool will suffice your little one and will go a long way in making your child enjoy the vacation
  • Make sure they have a comfortable sleeping space, and get plenty of rest.  Don’t run them around all day and skip their nap just because you are on vacation.  If they need a nap, let them take it. This is their vacation too, and they need a little R&R just like you, so make sure they have a comfortable sleeping area just like they do at home, and let them relax, nap, play, all that fun stuff that kids love to do :)
  • Make eating fun.  Instead of taking them out to a restaurant and strapping them into a high chair, why not go on a picnic, or cook and eat out on the balcony.  You could even take them to a kid-friendly restaurant where it’s not looked down upon if they are loud, or want to you to chase them around the restaurant for a bit :)  Be sure to let them have foods that they love.  Hamburgers are their favorite meal?  Now is the time to let them have one…after all, it’s vacation!

Last but not least, be patient with your toddler.  Your toddler is just that, a toddler.  They have different needs than we adults do, and these need to be accommodated for and respected.   Therefore, expect your trip to take a little more work and time to arrive, and accept this and enjoy the journey, as well as the destination :)

Hope these tips help and we hope you have a wonderful and relaxing vacation!  Have more to add?  Please leave in the comments below.  Bon Voyage!

About The Mommies

We’re two moms who love to celebrate, encourage and share our daily wins and challenges in motherhood and faith. We believe it's the little things in life that are the things that truly matter and God is sending us tiny miracles every day if we open our eyes and heart enough to see them. We know being a mom is the best and hardest job we will ever have the honor of calling our title and that's why we created a space to share our journey.

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