If you’re gearing up for holiday travel this season, you’ll need these tips for traveling with toddlers to help get you through a flight, long car ride or even long days with family.
Are you one of the lucky families traveling during the busiest time of the year? With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to start planning how we’re spending holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and family. Unfortunately for many, that means battling the airport. If you’re one of the families traveling with toddlers this year, there are a few things to know before you make travel plans. Have no fear! Despite the hurdles of traveling with kids, you’ll have a wonderful trip in the end. Hopefully these 10 tips for traveling with toddlers will make the journey less stressful!
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Moms’ Go-To Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Babies
- Snacks on Snacks on Snacks – When you’re planning a trip with kids, snacks are essential. There is absolutely nothing worse than a hangry toddler, especially when you’re stuck in a small space with them for several hours. Pack more snacks than you think you’ll need, and consider items like unrefrigerated milk packs, dried fruits, crackers or granola bars that are easy to consume on-the-go. For liquids, keep in mind the flying restrictions for carry-ons. A lot of parents recommend packing lollipops (maybe not the healthiest choice but very helpful) because they’re a snack that will last a long time, keeping your kiddo quiet and still for longer.
- Choose Departure Times Carefully – Whether you’re driving or flying to your destination, choose your departure time carefully. This is one of those times when you just have to know your kids. Traveling with toddlers can be a bit of a gamble if you’re not sure if they will sleep on the journey, and you know your kids best. With some toddlers, you can choose a flight time that coincides with their usual naptime so they’ll sleep through it, whereas with others, you’ll want to plan to leave right after they’ve woken up so you don’t have to travel with a grumpy toddler.
- Use Child-Safe Headphones – Yes, screen time is awful and we’re supposed to act like screens are the enemy…but they will save your sanity during a trip. To be courteous of other passengers, you’ll want to make sure kiddos wear headphones, but be sure to protect their precious ears. Choose child-safe headphones with volume-limiting capabilities. This way, you’ll know that listening to their favorite movie is safe for their ears.
- Pre-Download Netflix Movies/Shows – Before you go, make sure to download plenty of movies or shows on your phone or tablet if you’re going to let your toddler have screen time on the trip. This feature is a godsend! Only select programs are available for download, but anything you download will be available even without access to WiFi or your wireless network. Hurray for apps that work in airplane mode!
- Get a Window Seat – If you’re planning to fly, take the time to consider where your toddler is going to sit. Will they be on your lap or will you get them a seat? Up until toddlers are two years old, they can fly for free on their parent’s lap. That is incredibly tempting for budget-savvy travelers! Despite the allure, most experts have agreed that it’s best to purchase a seat for your toddler because it’s technically safer – nonetheless, this choice is up to the parents. Some kiddos, especially younger toddlers, may be great lap travelers, but others may be too squirmy to successful ride in your lap. In that case, choosing a window seat can be a great distraction for toddlers and keep them somewhat confined from the other passengers (compared to an aisle seat).
- Plan Quiet Activities – Traveling with toddlers allows for more activities than just screen time. While it’s incredibly convenient as a quiet activity, you probably don’t want them watching movies for five straight hours. Pack activities like coloring books, stickers, water painting pages or even window clings if they’ll be sitting by the window. If your kids like books, pack a few small ones for them to play with on the trip. Plus, be sure to bring any of their other favorite toys that will keep them happy, comfortable and mostly quiet, like their favorite blanket, stuffed animal or small toy.
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- Bring an Empty Sippy Cup – Unfortunately for those traveling with toddlers on plane, you can no longer bring your filled water bottle through security. Instead, pack an empty one in your carry-on to fill with water, milk or juice after you’ve passed security, and you can ask for kid-friendly drinks to refill the bottle once you’re in the air. Bringing your own sippy cup will also come in handy when you reach your destination! While you’re on your trip, you’ll have their water bottle handy to keep them hydrated.
- Pack Lots of Layers – You can never truly predict temperatures during travel. It’s easy to get warm on a car ride or cold once the plane is in the air, so pack multiple layers for yourself, your partner and your kids to keep everyone comfortable. While you’re at it, keep an extra change of clothes in your carry-on in case a disaster like a blow-out diaper comes along.
- Choose Kid-Friendly Lodging and Restaurants – Once you’ve finally reached your destination, you’ll want to check in with relatives or your hotel to get settled. Make sure to plan your travel activities with toddlers in mind. While you might want to visit nothing but museums, your toddler won’t enjoy it. Be sure to sprinkle in kid-friendly activities and choose restaurants that will cater to their needs. Call ahead to see if the hotel will provide essentials like a crib – bring your own crib sheet! – or if you need to pack a travel crib yourself.
- Lower your Expectations – Things can go wrong. Things will go wrong. Toddlers will cry, passengers will groan. When you’re stressed about traveling with your toddler, they can often sense it and act out. If you have incredibly high expectations of your trip, you’re almost certainly going to feel let down. Simple take a deep breath, accept that this trip will not be perfect, but know that you are doing your best.
Traveling with toddlers is never easy, but hopefully these tips will help reduce the stress during your next trip!
Do you have any other helpful tips for traveling with toddlers?