Traveling with a toddler doesn’t have to be the nightmare many people make it out to be.
Lugging luggage with a cranky, tired child in tow is no fun, but the checklist below is meant to help so that doesn’t happen. Hopefully, traveling with a toddler will be an enjoyable, memorable adventure for you instead of a challenge you’re just hoping to survive.
Here are our best tips to make the trip as smooth as possible.
- Pack several small books or toys.
You need to keep your toddler occupied while traveling with them or they will drive you crazy. If you have the good fortune to have a friend or neighbor with a child the same age as yours, ask if you can swap a few toys for the duration of the trip. Baby gets new toys to play with while you save money.
- Carry snacks.
Snacks are a necessary part of traveling with a toddler. Hit up your local store and buy a few pureed foods that you can feed your child. Purchase baby food sold in tubes or go for a food pouch so your baby can easily eat without making a mess.
- Dress baby for quick changes.
Traveling with a toddler can be a very frustrating experience; especially when it comes to diaper changes. Dress your baby in a onesie and leggings to allow easy access to the diaper.
- Call ahead and confirm your seat.
Whether or not they have their own seat or will be traveling on your lap, your traveling toddler will require their own boarding pass. It is also important to know that only seats with two oxygen masks can accommodate a lap child; all others are off limits.
At the Airport
- Change diapers at the airport.
Some airplanes have changing tables, but most don’t. Get your diapers changed at the airport whenever possible. Changing a diaper on your lap or in those tiny bathrooms is not fun. You also don’t want be stuck with a poopy diaper for the whole flight.
- Carry your baby’s birth certificate.
Once your baby hits 2 years old, they have to have their own seat and the airline will be more than happy to sell you one. Make sure you have their birth certificate with you, especially if your baby looks even a little over 2 years old.
- Choose the longer layover.
Things take longer to do when you have a baby or toddler. Between feedings, diaper changes, and play time, if you have a choice between a 90-minute layover or a 30-minute one, choose 90 minutes. Giving a traveling toddler 30 minutes to run around at the airport will help him burn off some energy and with any luck not be too cranky from being stuck in the same position for a few hours while on the flight.
On the Plane
- Don’t expect special treatment.
Unless you’re in first class or are an elite super traveler, don’t expect any special treatment just because you’ve got a little one.
- Forget about germs.
Carry some wet wipes and wipe down the tray or arm rests if it’ll make you feel better, but you’ll go crazy trying to keep your baby germ-free on a plane. Wash your hands and baby’s whenever you can but, other than that, just be thankful for vaccinations.
- Feed during take off and landing.
Keep baby’s ears from blocking due to pressure changes by feeding them. Chewing, swallowing, and suckling helps keep ears from blocking.
- Sit next to other families if possible.
When you’re traveling with a toddler, sitting next to a family means you’re surrounded by sympathizers. Kids also keep each other occupied, which will make your life so much easier.
- Use technology.
Parents get a lot of grief for keeping their kids occupied using an iPad or any sort of screen. Truth be told, if your baby is less than 2 years old, chances are they won’t be doing anything other than pressing random buttons. If nothing else, when baby falls asleep it doesn’t hurt to have an app to keep you occupied.
- Learn some songs and lap games.
Peekaboo, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Little Piggy, Tickle Monster and other games such as counting fingers and toes come in handy in tight spaces.
- Let baby free play.
Baby may be happier rotating the arm rest or ripping up the magazines on the plane than they are playing with the toys you so carefully chose and packed. Don’t stress. Just go with the flow and be thankful they’re entertaining themselves.
At your destination
- Book a hotel room with a separate living area and bedroom.
Chances are Baby will be fast asleep hours before you’re ready to sleep. Having this bit of privacy will be very helpful. Call your hotel and ask about the rooms. It may cost an extra $20 or $30, but it will be well worth it.
- Skip the hotel cribs.
Hotel cribs are well-meaning but don’t put your baby in one if it isn’t necessary.
- Choose accommodations that offer breakfast.
Breakfast in pajamas takes a lot of the pressure off your mornings.
Remember that a cranky child is trying to tell you something. When you’re traveling with a toddler, try your best to preempt their needs for food, sleep, and a clean diaper. Once you arrive at your destination, ensure that you schedule some down time to help your little one adjust from the trip.
First published at www.scienceofmom.com.
Featured image source: www.bootsnall.com