The summer is here in full swing and with that means summer vacation. But many parents might shy away from traveling because they have a toddler.
Traveling with a toddler is absolutely possible. It’s manageable even for those with really fussy kids.
Don’t be afraid that the little ones are going to act up or be that crying baby on the airplane. If it happens, it happens such is life. Don’t let the possibility of a tantrum scare you away from taking much needed time away from the routine. After all, it’s your summer too. Go on vacation!
Benefits Of Summer Vacations With Toddlers
It’s tempting to just leave your toddler at home with mom or dad or other family members. But most moms probably have that ping of worry and fear of missing out, making it hard for them to relaxing at sandy shores when your heart is back home.
I absolutely believe in taking time away as a parent and recharging your battery. It is great for your mental health, thus allowing you to be a better mom or dad. Take that trip with your spouse, girlfriends or self.
However, vacationing with a toddler can also be really rewarding.
I love taking trips with my toddler because it is yet another way to bond and share experiences. We are making family memories that are worth every mini meltdown along the way. I look back on these vacations remembering what a great time we had, not the tantrums.
Plus it gives toddlers a break from the mundane, too. Those who are not in summer camp or daycare might find themselves bored at home. This means getting into trouble, throwing fits and driving mommy crazy.
Tips To Traveling With A Toddler
I have traveled both with my husband, mom and alone with my toddler. Each time I packed one large suitcase for both of us.
This makes it super easy to pack in general since all clothes are in one suitcase. There is no need to fumble with multiple bags. Plus toddler clothes are small enough to fold nicely with plenty of room for mom.
Checking in a bag at the airport can be a hassle, but it’s worth it when lugging a carry on diaper bag and stroller. Get rid of the bag and don’t worry about it until landing.
Time The Flight Just Right
It’s a great idea to try to make the flight during their nap time.
Of course, this doesn’t always go as planned. Getting to the airport early can throw them off. I’ve taken early morning flights that woke my toddler up before he normally would and he was up for the day. I’ve taken flights near his nap that were delayed and then I had a crying, cranky toddler in my arms until we boarded. But then at least he fell asleep.
Sometimes it’s impossible to time right. Some might think red eyes are the way to go, others prefer day flights and just bringing entertainment to keep them busy.
Do what is right for you and your family. This means so experimenting on finding the right time of day to fly.
The good thing about toddlers is that they can carry their own small backpack of goodies.
Pack their favorite snacks and toys along with a charged tablet or whatever device they enjoy watching movies or shows on. Have some downloaded on the device in case there is no WiFi.
Have plenty of things to keep them entertained, but let them have access to one thing at a time so they don’t grow bored too quickly.
Get A Window Seat
Toddlers over the age of two need their own seat. This sucks financially, but at least there is more room. If possible, get a window seat. And let them sit there.
They can look out of the window when boarding, as well as watch the clouds roll by. But the biggest benefit is not being able to escape.
My toddler has a desire to get up and run around the plane. Not happening.
So keeping him in the window seat means he would have to get through me and my husband or a stranger to get to the aisle.
The good news is that there is still plenty of room for little ones to stand up and stretch.
Request A Car Seat
I totally understand that parents want their little ones to be buckled up safely to take off. Parents can absolutely bring their car seats on board. But for me, it just was another thing to carry and when traveling with just me and my toddler it was too much. It makes sense for stroller and car seat combos, but with different products, this wasn’t an option for me.
Instead, I request a car seat when renting a car at my destination. This is typically an add on fee daily, but it’s worth it when it comes to not having to worry about lugging it around for the trip.
The downside is that car rental employees cannot assist in putting it in the car, so master the process at home first.
Don’t Pack These Items
There are certain things that I absolutely won’t pack in my suitcase.
This includes diapers, shampoos, and sunscreen.
Yes, this is all needed for toddlers. But for starters, loads of diapers just takes up space in my luggage. I always stop upon arriving at my destination first at a local supermarket to get him the essentials like diapers, milk and any snacks I know he will eat during our trip.
Shampoos, sunscreen and the like often spill out and get all over the clothes. Just buy that stuff when getting there. Instead, I carry travel sizes that are within the airport guidelines to have on hand in case I need something at that moment.
This includes sunscreen, lip balm and bug spray in the summer.
Of course, I pack plenty of diapers and wipes in my diaper bag as my carry on to have on hand.
Don’t pack items like blow dryers since this is often provided by hotels. Toddlers also don’t need every stuff animal or toy they own. Just pack that favorite one or two since chances are they are getting new souvenirs while away.
Don’t pack extra blankets, just bring on as a carry on for the plane.
I also never pack any beach gear besides bathing suits. Pick up a cheap beach towel at a local beach shop to save space in the luggage. Beach toys are inexpensive and can be purchased there. I never feel bad about just throwing them away after.
When On A Road Trip Tips
I haven’t taken as many long car trips as I have flights. But there are some tips I have when hitting the road this summer.
I still pack a toy bag filled with favorite snacks and the tablet for car ride entertainment. I don’t give my toddler his shows into well into the car ride if I know it’s going to be a long one.
I also make sure to have things downloaded in case we drive through an area with no service.
I also pack a blanket for both my toddler and an extra that I typically use if I’m not driving.
Those who are potty training or toddler who potty trained require some bathroom breaks. Bring along a portable small potty and place diapers inside it. This makes the cleanup so much easier. Place extra wipes in the backseat for easy access.
Timing the road trip around their nap is sometimes easier when driving to a destination. Most kids tend to fall asleep in the car eventually anyway.
The good news is that you have the freedom to stop at any time. I deal with a crying toddler while I’m driving by distracting him by calling out cars we pass or handing over my phone for YouTube.
If the drive becomes too long, take a break at a rest stop and stretch your legs.
Just remember that travel time might be stressful at the moment, but it’s absolutely worth it to have special moments shared off in new places.