If you're a parent of a toddler, packing your bags for a family vacation can bring on the same feeling as lining up for the roller coaster you know is going to make your stomach drop. With so many things to take care of, you wonder if you’re going to survive a trip with your toddler!
But don't worry. It's entirely possible to have a successful and enjoyable trip with toddlers in tow if you plan ahead and are prepared for any situation. In this article, we’re going to share some of our best tips for traveling with toddlers. So, get those suitcases ready; we're going on an adventure!
Choosing the Right Accommodation
When traveling with a toddler, the right accommodation can make all the difference in providing a stress-free experience. Whether you're looking to stay in a hotel, an Airbnb, or another type of vacation home, make sure that there are proper safety measures in place.
For example, you're not staying by yourselves when you check into a hotel with your baby. You’ll know exactly where to find the hotel manager should any problems arise during your stay. As opposed to staying in an Airbnb by yourselves, staying in a hotel can give you peace of mind knowing help is just a call away. Additionally, some hotels offer rooms for families with bunk beds and other kid-friendly amenities like play areas that can make your stay more enjoyable.
If you decide to stay at an Airbnb, look for accommodations that have safety locks on doors and windows—especially important if your little one is prone to wandering off. Don’t forget to double check reviews from other families with similar needs as yours who’ve already stayed before!
Packing the Essential Items
Traveling with a toddler can be a fun adventure, but a little bit of preparation will go a long way to keeping the trip smooth and stress-free. One of the best ways to do this is by being sure to pack all the essential items for your little one.
Fortunately, for toddlers, this list isn't too long! Here are some of the must-haves you should make sure you take with you:
- Diapers and wipes
- Extra clothing
- Favorite toy/blanket
- Stroller or carrier
- Cold-weather gear
- Two pairs of shoes
- Coloring books/toys
- First-aid kit
These items can help keep your toddler comfortable and occupied while on the go. Be sure to pack enough to last through your entire trip, and consider packing some spare items in case of any unexpected delays. In our experience, there were a couple of trips when we actually lost our kid’s shoes, so it’s always smart to pack an extra pair.
Meals on the Go
If you’re a parent, you know that life with a toddler is easier when you have food on hand. And that doesn’t change when you’re on the go. That's why you might be wondering how to make eating while traveling easy.
Thankfully, there are some great tips and tricks for meals on the go:
- Plan Ahead – It helps to plan ahead by bringing snacks and meals from home if you can. Be sure to pack enough food for the whole trip, plus some extra snacks.
- Prioritize Food Sources – Identify which restaurants will be suitable for your child’s diet and stick to those. It may also be worth researching the area before you leave.
- Pack Supplies – Don't forget your utensils, plates and containers. These items can really help make eating while traveling easier. Don't forget to bring more than enough water as well; it's always important to stay hydrated!
- Pack Comfort Items – Bringing along your child's favorite toy can help transition them into unfamiliar environments easier, especially during meal times.
Staying Entertained During Long Trips
The key to a successful trip with toddlers is making sure they are entertained on long journeys. So what do you do?
The good news is entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. Simply bring along some of their favorite foods, snacks, or drinks to keep them occupied. Get children’s books that are about traveling. Coloring books and crayons are a big help for some parents as well. If you don’t mind a bit of messiness, provide some paper and crayons so they can draw their own stories while you travel. It may even provide some funny stories afterwards!
Don’t overlook the power of technology either! Tablets and phones are actually great for keeping toddlers bus since there are tons of apps available specifically for them. Educational apps and games can shave off an hour or two of boredom. On YouTube, you can search for age-appropriate videos such as Learn Animals with Ms. Rachel for Toddlers.
Making Rest Stops
It's important to make regular rest stops when you're traveling with a toddler. If you don't, it can be a recipe for disaster. Not only will your toddler be stuck in their seat for too long, they might start to feel car sick, which will make the situation even worse.
Here are some tips:
- Stop at least every two hours. Let them get out and stretch their legs, and maybe grab something quick to eat or drink (but skip sugary drinks!)
- Don't forget about diaper changes! You don't want your toddler sitting in a dirty diaper for hours on end.
- Check your route ahead of time so you know which places to stop along the way.
- Plan some activities during stops so that your toddler has something new and exciting to look forward to during the journey.
Finding Quality Child Care During the Trip
You don't have to worry about leaving your little one behind when you're traveling, because there are plenty of options for finding quality child care. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help make sure you're getting the best care for your toddler while you're away from home:
Research Care Providers
Take some time to research any potential care providers in the area before making a commitment. Check for reviews, ask for references, and ensure that their credentials meet any certifications or requirements specific to your destination.
Accommodate Different Activities
Depending on their age, toddlers need a balance of physical activities and rest periods throughout the day. Ask about what type of entertainment or activities they can provide your child and make sure it’s appropriate for their age and stage of development.
Communicate Your Expectations
Feeling comfortable with any child care situation is essential, so be sure to communicate all of your expectations ahead of time. Whether you have specific instructions regarding food allergies, nap schedules, or preferred games, be clear so there’s no confusion during the trip.
To sum it up, traveling with a toddler can be a challenge, but it is doable. Opt for early morning flights, end the day at the hotel, create a schedule that fits your toddler’s needs and pack snacks and drinks to keep them entertained and hydrated. As with all parenting, you know your little one best. Let their personality be your guide, and enjoy your time away as a family. With just a few extra precautions and planning, you’ll be able to create an unforgettable trip with the least amount of stress. Happy travels!