When’s the last time you took a vacation? If your answer was “before the kids were born”, we understand completely. Contrary to what many people believe, it’s not as hard as you think to take your child (or children) on your next adventure.
Roughly 21 million households in America have small children under the age of 10. Some parents are truly acing the “traveling with a toddler” thing and actually enjoying themselves while they’re at it.
Does this sound like a crazy dream to you?
We’ve gathered tips for traveling with a toddler from those parents who’ve figured it all out and lived to tell. Keep reading to find out all the hacks you need to know before heading out the door with your toddler for your next adventure.
Grab your travel agent, it’s time for a vacation!
Your 10 Must-Know Tips for Traveling with a Toddler
These travel tips will help you navigate the airport and keep both parent and baby in high spirits. From exploring the country’s best national parks to visiting Australia’s Gold Coast, get ready to give your children happy family memories that will last them a lifetime.
1. Pack a Big Scarf
This is the single best travel tip for everyone, from mothers to solo backpackers. A large scarf or pashmina can double as a blanket, a pillow, a changing curtain, a sunshade, and even the major ingredient for a makeshift fort.
Parents know that ordinary objects often have many uses, so pack one the next time you hit the road. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how often you use it as something other than a scarf.
2. ..and Some Extra Clothes
As a parent, this may be an obvious tip. Spills and accidents happen, so it’s always a great idea to carry a set of spare clothes. But there’s more than one good reason for it.
When traveling, you can experience a lot of different temperatures. Airplanes and airports tend to run cold, busses tend to be hot and stuffy, and the actual weather changes with the day. Layer up accordingly, pack the extra clothes, and always opt for velcro shoes over laces to make changing a breeze.
3. Bring Two First Aid Kits
Bruises, scrapes, and cuts happen, especially if you’re a toddler curious about the new world around you. As a parent, you want to be ready to put out any and all fires.
In your carryon, have a mini first aid kit with things such as band-aids, Neosporin, tums, and motion sickness pills. In your larger luggage, pack more non-travel sized essentials like children’s Tylenol, Pepto, and Benadryl.
Ear plugs are also a good idea to throw in there just in case the airplane is loud if you get seated near the engine.
4. Don’t Forget Snacks (and more snacks)
Did we mention snacks? Chances are, foreign countries, gas station pit stops, and airplanes don’t always come stocked with the most child-approved snacks. Your job as a parent is to pack all the goodies for all the occasions.
Be sure to cover all the bases: sweet, salty, chocolatey, and savory. One can only hope they slip into a food coma.
5. Run Around
Before long flights, train rides, or bus rides, try to tire your kids out. You can even challenge them to a fun obstacle course for example: run to the trashcan, do 10 jumping jacks, hop on one foot back, and spin around five times.
They’ll think it’s a game and won’t even realize you’re getting them to release all their pent up energy before its time to sit still for hours on end.
6. Pack Fun Things
Grab a few toys, activities, or games (new or old) for your kids to play with when they start to get restless. This can even be a new app or electronic device. We’ve found that new items work better at holding their attention for longer.
Bonus points if you wrap it up. Kids love new things and the anticipation of wrapping makes it seem like a premature Christmas. You can also use this as a bargaining chip for good behavior during the start of the trip.
7. Negotiate for a Spare Seat
We love the idea of not paying for our toddler’s seat, but when it comes to sitting with them on our lap for 8+ hours, it doesn’t seem like such a great deal after all.
Most flights don’t fill up, so it’s in your best interest to get yourself next to the free spot. If you want a pleasant ride, negotiate with any (and every) flight attendant or customer to maneuver your seats next to the open one.
8. Sanitize Often
Toddlers have this strange desire to touch and taste everything they see. When traveling to a new place full of new smells, colors, and sounds, the desire is going to be much greater. As a parent, it’s your job to combat against it.
We suggest keeping sanitizing wipes readily available and using them often, especially in public transportation and tourist spots.
9. Keep ‘Em Close
Traveling could potentially mean encountering very busy touristy locations. Don’t let your toddler get away from you, even if they do try to run across the street to pet the stray dogs of Thailand or climb through the rotating baggage claim tunnel.
We aren’t opposed to the safety harness backpack that your toddler can wear, which attaches snugly to your wrists (yes, we mean a leash). Better safe than sorry.
10. Patience and Acceptance
Sure, this seems like an obvious one, but understanding that something is going to go wrong is important. Even when traveling without toddlers, flights get delays, extreme weather happens, and sometimes you have to forgo meals.
Keep your wits about you and patience at a high by practicing gratefulness and understanding that things could potentially be much worse.
Plan Your Next Trip
With these tips for traveling with a toddler, you’ll soon be a pro-traveler in no time. The only thing left to do is plan your next adventure!