Travelling with toddlers is ALWAYS an adventure!
By the time my oldest was 6 he had travelled to more places than most adults we knew! The biggest thing that shaped motherhood for me as a young mom was the simple fact that there wasn’t anything I felt I couldn’t do with him! I never questioned doing something just because I had a kid. That was especially true with travelling.
I believe those moments shaped both of us in the best ways. Getting out of your routine into a new environment and watching your child learn and experience new things daily is indescribable. They might not remember all the details but you will have pictures as memories.
When we sit down together and look back on those pictures all those wonderful memories come back and my heart overflows with the amount of love I have for him.
Meeting New Friends
Do you know I met two moms on a trip 16 years ago when my oldest was two and we still keep in contact to this day? We all had 2-year-olds at that time and the adventures the kids got to experience with new friends was amazing. I even got to sneak away with one of the moms one night to go check out a water park!
Taking him on travel adventures are some of my favorite memories with him when he was little!
Since then, I have had two more kids (20 months apart). Traveling with toddlers is not always easy but being prepared it can be easier for everybody!
We travel down South multiple times in the winter and during the summer months, we travel to the lake on weekends which is 3 hours away. My youngest two are now 3 and 1 and I have definitely learned a few tips and tricks traveling with them for the last few years.
I’m super happy to share helpful Tips and Tricks for your next trip!
DON’T BE SCARED, BE PREPARED!
TIP #1 – Choose Itinerary Carefully
Fly during the Day
The cheaper flight that arrives at your destination at 3 AM might NOT be the best flight choice when traveling with littles. Keep travel times and extra stops to a minimum. For example, we typically take two flights when we go to our family house in Florida. We have been taking those flights for years and we arrive at an airport that’s 15 minutes from home.
Try to Fly Direct
After trying that flight with the two younger ones last year (who were just turned 2 and 5 months at the time) I realized the layover and delays and a full day of travel was not in anyone’s best interest. So we decided to do one flight to Orlando direct, and drive the 1.5 hours to the house.
Plan Driving time at Night
If your plane lands at night, change your kids into their pajamas around bedtime so if they fall asleep they are more easily transferred. A quick transfer to bed when you get to your location can help ensure they still have a good sleep. This is MUCH better for the kids and at the end of the day us too!
BONUS: Taking one flight can be significantly cheaper than two so you can put that money you save into a good deal on a rental car and it will likely work out to be cheaper overall.
TIP #2 – Pick your Gear
Rent When you Can
Decide what gear is a must for your trip! The good news is many destinations have local rental companies where you can rent anything from exersaucers to strollers to car seats. Do your research and book ahead of time if you are going to popular spots.
I have never brought my kid’s car seats on the plane for the simple fact that they are extremely heavy and carrying two car seats plus two toddlers and all our carry on stuff and a stroller is just TOO MUCH! But we have checked car seats to bring with us and use them on our holidays.
Bring the Good Stroller
One BIG MISTAKE I made last year that I will not make again was leaving my double stroller behind on one trip. But let me tell you, as much as I love the baby carrier, walking for hours each day with my daughter in the carrier and pushing the single stroller killed my back.
I LOVE my double stroller and will not be leaving it again any time soon!
Under 5 Years old
If you have kids under 5 I still think strollers are an important item to have in my opinion. If you are planning on going sightseeing or to the zoo, it is much safer to have a place to contain kids in the parking lot or if it is really busy. And if they get tired they can have a nap in it. Strollers are also handy for extra storing extras like sweaters, hats, and shopping bags.
A good stroller is one of the most important items to have traveling with young kids in my opinion!
TIP #3 – Pack Light and Efficient
I’m a huge fan of using packing cubes and organizers for traveling but especially for my kids, you can find them here. It is especially helpful if you are packing your kid’s items in your suitcase because your items don’t get mixed in with your kids!
Be sure to pack basic clothing items per kid that are interchangeable and all match together so you don’t need to overpack. You can also label the packing cubes for each child or get each child their own color!
Wear Bulky items on Plane
I put your kids in their biggest clothing items for the plane. For example, you can have them wear runners and a warmer hoodie for the airplane. That way you won’t have to take up room packing bigger items and can instead throw a pair of sandals or lighter sweaters that will take up less room in the suitcase.
TIP #4 – Carry on Essentials
This is a big one. You are tasked with entertaining your kids in a bullet flying through the sky for several hours. Kids who barely sit still for 2 minutes will be confined to a small space that they can get out of easily! Fear not, here is a list of my go-to items for entertainment!
MAJOR MOM TIP: Our pediatrician recommends giving babies/kids a dose of Tylenol 30 minutes before the flight. The reason is that over 60% of people have ear sensitivity due to the change in pressure. Her advice was why risk your kid screaming hysterically in the middle of the flight before doing anything about it.
Although my kids rarely have medicine I do give a dose/half dose to take the edge off just as we are boarding. It has always worked!
I bring a carry on for myself and let my kids each have their own. In the kid’s bags I include:
1. HEALTHY snacks – Yogurt drops, granola bars, pouches (they are a little old for these) but it is a fantastic way to avoid a meltdown. I do not believe that eating an abnormal amount of sugar as a “treat” benefits anybody in the long run.
TIP: Keep the majority of snacks in your bag so you can pull it out when a crisis arises. I try and include a few new items they haven’t tried before so they think it’s a treat because it’s new!
2. Melissa & Doug Water Wow Books – I am obsessed with these. I used the Water Wow books to potty train Levi and I swear they are the most genius invention ever. I like to contain messes as much as possible and giving my kids markers on an airplane at this age can end up in disaster. These books dry quickly and all you need is water! Win-win in my book!
3. Seek and Find Books – The toddler backpacks are on the smaller side so the books that are the most popular for us to take when traveling are the seek and find books. My kids LOVE these!
4. Doll and Small Cars/trucks – Depending on what your child’s favorite toy is at the moment, let them bring a small item to play with. I try and limit it to 5 small cars or trucks. The Cat mini machines have been a solid favorite with my kids!
5. HEADPHONES – Perfect for in-flight entertainment or your iPad. Make sure you have games/movies downloaded ahead of time! I also suggest making sure your airline app is updated to the latest version the night before.
MAJOR MOM TIP #2: Leave the carry on bags in the car in the event you go out to a restaurant for dinner. The carry on bags double as busy bags to keep your toddlers entertained at the restaurant!
TIP #5 – Potty Trained Toddlers
Recently Potty Trained
If you have a recently potty-trained toddler I would highly suggest having a backup plan. We all know toddlers can be a little finicky at time. There might be a chance they refuse to use the airport or airplane washrooms because of the noise or unfamiliar environment. Trust me, it happens!
Nobody will have a good day if your toddler refuses to go to the bathroom. Or imagine getting stuck in a lineup and you can’t make it to the washroom in time! The morning of travel I very nonchalantly told him that I would be giving him some “Airplane underwear.” I told him they were special underwear for travel days.
Keep the same Bathroom Routine
We still took Levi to the bathroom regularly and at every opportunity, we could. He never had any accidents but we also knew if there was an issue with finding a washroom it wouldn’t end in disaster. Thankfully everything was fine but I would highly recommend a backup plan just in case!
TIP #6 – Relax
Even without toddlers travel days can be unexpected. The best thing to do is relax and know that you will get to where you are going! And if your child does scream on the plane, you are unlikely to see those people again anyway. 🙂
Keep in mind that the purpose behind traveling is to build family memories you and your children will have forever!
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