10 Tips for Traveling With a Toddler
I wrote a blog post a while back called "10 Tips for Traveling with a Baby" and it was a HUGE hit amongst my readers. Between my husbands job and our immediate family living out of state we travel A LOT. Ella was a pro flyer by the time she was a few months old and when she was 18 months she traveled with us to Europe for two months. I'm not going to tell you that it was easy. It was not. It was a lot of extra work but it was so so worth it! Getting to see her experience all that the world has to offer for the first time has been one of the most rewarding things i've ever done.
Anyways, most of the tips from that first blog post still apply but I wanted to add in a few new things we've adopted as she's gotten older:
1. Get a place with two bedrooms.
This is the most important tip that I can give you. Whether you're staying at a rented house or a hotel having that second bedroom is an absolute must if you want to sleep at all. It makes it 10x easier to maintain a sleep schedule and keeping a toddler on their sleep schedule will make your life 1000x easier because the only thing tougher than traveling with a toddler is traveling with a grumpy sleep deprived toddler. 9 times out of 10 we choose to rent an Airbnb because then we can make our own food and can wash laundry which is unavoidable especially if you're potty training! (Use THIS LINK to get $40 off your first Airbnb home booking and $15 off your first experience booking!)
2. Bring more snacks than you think you will need.
I cannot stress this enough. The snacks that your child usually loves, they will REFUSE TO EAT on a plane. So pack a variety and make sure you include the treats you always swore you'd never give your child (gummy bears are usually a hit with Ella) along with new things for them to try.
3. Get you a travel stroller that RECLINES.
This one is a personal preference but it has made a huge difference for us. Ella has taken many a nap in her Mutsy stroller which means that we don't have to choose between exploring during the day and keeping up with her sleep schedule. It's also amazing in the airport because I can either wear Ella in our carrier or let her walk and then pile all of our luggage onto the reclined stroller.
4. Plane Activities
Before we go on a trip I always go to the Target dollar section and stock up on their travel toys (the felt books are always a hit). I then hide them until we are on the plane and pull them out one by one so she's constantly entertained. I don't bother bringing her current favorite activities because the same as the snacks, there is something about being on a plane that renders them completely useless. I also love the Netflix download feature to create a library of her fave shows on her Amazon Fire because let's be honest, screen time does not count on a plane.
5. Get on the plane LAST
When Ella was a baby i was a huge advocate for taking advantage of early boarding. Being able to get to my seat first and get situated before being surrounded by people was amazing! As Ella has gotten older and her attention span has gotten shorter I want to be on the plane for the least amount of time possible! Being last on the plane still gives us plenty of time to get situated and we don't have to wait so long to get up in the air.
6. Pack Strategically
Now, I am probably the most unorganized packer in the history of the world but I have learned a thing or two about what is a necessity and what I can live without. When it comes to clothes I try to coordinate a mini capsule wardrobe for Ella. Neutral pieces that mix and match and usually only one or two pairs of shoes total. That seems silly typing it out because *duh but you would be surprised how easy it is to get caught up in trying to put together tons of outfits with matching bows (ahh leave the bows at home people) and shoes and before I know it her luggage is bigger than mine! I always bring enough diapers to get us to our destination and then make sure to hit the grocery store to buy a pack so they don't take up room in our suitcases. Our Dock-a Tot is an absolute essential. It's a bit of a pain to bring it because I'm cheap and didn't buy the travel bag but every time I leave it behind I seriously regret it.
7. Find your system and give yourself plenty of time so you don't have to rush.
When we get to the airport, we always check the car seat with the luggage, push the stroller through the airport and then check it at the gate. I ALWAYS stop for an iced coffee a large ice water at Chic-fil-a (because I usually fly Spirit and they don't even give you water on the plane) once I'm through security. I take my time putting everything through the x-ray machine and I try to not let myself feel rushed. Airports with kiddos can easily be overwhelming but I've found that slowing down, being kind, and accepting help when it's offered are ways to make it less stressful.
8. Research kid friendly things to do BEFORE you go.
I cannot tell you how many times we have spent more time trying to figure out what to do than actually exploring the city. Then by the time we decide it's lunch time so we go and eat, and then by that time Ella is exhausted so we just end up going back to the room and hanging out there for the rest of the day. rinse and repeat. When I do a little bit of research ahead of time (not too much though, gotta live in the moment) it takes some of the pressure off in the day to day. Some of the easiest ways it to search "kid friendly (city)" in Pinterest or use your apple maps to find out where the nearest parks are to you.
9. Don't forget to plan fun things for YOU as well.
I always thought that traveling with kids would be the worst because you can only do kiddie activities but the reality is that bringing them along with you to the fancy restaurant you've been wanting to try builds character. How else are they going to learn how to act civilized if they don't get to practice?? At first it can be really hard and not seem worth it to bring them through the museums or the shopping days but as time goes on you start to care less what the people around you think about your energetic child and they start to actually enjoy the "adult" days too! When we were in Paris I was petrified to take Ella into the museums for fear she would wreak havoc but she honestly LOVED it and the more you do it the more comfortable you become! - Granted sometimes we need Netflix on an iphone to keep them quiet but I like to make it as long as possible before I pull out the screens.
10. JUST GO FOR IT.
Honestly you can read tips and tricks until you're blue in the face but the only way you're going to get comfortable traveling with your kiddos is to do it! It's a lot of work I'm not going to lie to you but it's so so worth it and so much fun! And once you do it a few times, it becomes second nature to you.
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