How to Travel With a Toddler: Tips for a Great Trip
Ah, the inevitable: Traveling with a toddler. It most certainly will happen at one time or another on your parenting adventure. Whether it be for vacation or a Christmas visit to grandparents, traveling any substantial distance can be one of the most challenging events as you raise a wee one. All schedules are thrown by the wayside, any established routine that was working just fine at home is suddenly gone and tempers can rise. So here are a few tips that might make your journey a easier and less stressful.
1. Be Prepared and Plan Ahead
This might seem quite obvious, but often it’s all that’s needed. If your little one sleeps better with a certain blanket, be sure it’s in the bag so napping will come easier, whenever you get the opportunity. Did you refill the wipes container, so you’re not scrounging frantically around when the sippy cup leaks? Did you even bring the sippy cup? Is it full and ready to be handed to those eager hands? Simply thinking ahead to what might happen and even stuff you hope doesn’t happen, can make every one’s life much happier.
2. New Toys
Everyone likes something different and interesting. Children especially. So indulge them just this once, and prepare a little goodie bag with a few new toys, books, or games to occupy the little travelers. As parents, we all know it doesn’t take much to capture a toddler’s attention, so keep it simple. Maybe a few new animal figurines or a new matchbox car. Quiet toys are even better, particularly if traveling in an airplane or bus with others around. Maybe the toy lights up, but doesn’t sing. That’s always a plus! Does your toddler like books? Choose one with lots of detailed pictures so they can concentrate searching for their favorite color. Or keep those little fingers busy with a new sticker book.
Despite our best efforts, those moments will come when the new toys no longer hold little Johnny’s attention, and little Sarah has given up playing with her new little pony. This is when your imagination need to kick in and you start making the most of every new opportunity. Like, the bill boards say, “Look, there’s a purple rectangle!” Make the usual, exciting. Find all the circles, balls or round objects nearby. Locate all the people wearing hats, and count them while you’re at it!
If your schedule includes a lot of walking, such as at an airline terminal, a stroller can indeed be handy. But, what about carrying it when you need to carry bags and luggage as well? Often times it can become more of a hindrance than a help. Wearing your toddler can be quite helpful, leaving both your hands free and your mind free from worrying where your child is.
This of course is probably already on your list of traveling necessities. But make it easy on yourself. Don’t bring food items that require clean up. Or a bib. Hand the crackers back one at a time, versus a cupful, so it’ll take longer to snack and thus keep the hungry toddler occupied longer.
6. Keep Calm and Carry On
Your attitude can be the deciding factor in many stressful situations. If your child catches on that you’re worried or uptight, they will be too. Make it your priority not to have a nervous toddler, even though you feel like screaming! Take a deep breath and relax. Many times, that’s all that’s needed for them to calm down too. If your raise your voice and get all hyper, children tend to as well. If you speak quietly, or even whisper, they will have to calm down to hear what you’re saying. This season of their lives doesn’t last forever and soon they’ll be sitting with ear buds in the back seat, not needing your attention at all. So take heart and enjoy your ride!