We’ve all been on the plane and seen a traveling toddler. Parents are overwhelmed and you wonder how you’d ever travel with your own toddler some day. There is another way to look at this scenario.
Your adventures don’t have to end once you have a little one. A traveling toddler can enhance your trip. Exploring with a toddler is the same adventure as before, just at a slower, more thought out pace. Which I personally think, and surely some agree, is better anyways. You are forced to slow down and be more present.
For me, backpack traveling around different countries used to include full moon parties, drinking games at the hostel until sunrise and nightclubs that stayed open all night long. That side of my adventures has changed. Now that I’ve entered my 30’s, I’m not sure I could or would want to do those things anymore anyways. Moving from those late night activities to a slower paced exploration, is just where I want to be.
How do you turn your little one into a traveling toddler & get to the destinations you want?
I’m going to share my tips and tricks with you. Our son became a traveling toddler very early on. He has been to Europe three times, Africa once, the United States multiple times and all over western Canada before he turned two. We’re just getting started.
No matter your form of travel, here are our favorite trustworthy tricks for turning your kiddo into a traveling toddler:
The first step is booking the trip
Yes, it’s going to be more challenging flying with a toddler on any length of flight, but you can do it. Your children don’t need to be your limitations. Let them become your reason for exploration. Fostering a traveling toddler will open their eyes to a variety of cultures early on.
A lot of people fly with kids and a lot of the people on the plane have been there themselves. They understand what you’re faced with. Your first step in raising a traveling toddler is to book that first trip.
If your child is still small enough, many international flights have infant bassinets that are ideal for you to be hands free for a length of time. These need to be booked far in advance as they are requested frequently.
Pack your traveling toddlers favorite toys
…and new ones. Keep them entertained with their favorite toys. The ones they wouldn’t leave home without. As a backup, surprise them with a couple of new ones. Learning to play with a new toy will keep your traveling toddler occupied longer.
Pack a variety of snacks
A hangry toddler is never fun. Even less so when crammed in a small space with a lot of strangers. Keep them well fed. Pack their favorite foods and just like tows, surprise them with new potential favorites. These snacks will keep everyone (including you) sane during your flight.
Never let your traveling toddler out of their seat
If they don’t know they could run up and down the airplane aisle, they won’t try it. Keeping them buckled in is safer anyways.
Pack enough diapers and wipes for the flight
Then pack a few extras. You don’t need to bring all of your supply, just enough for the flight plus a couple of extras just in case. Anyone who has spent a day with a toddler knows they go through their outfits. Every meal time and surprised potty breaks can mean a new outfit. Traveling can bring on the unexpected so pack an extra outfit. A spare outfit for yourself wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Bring crafts and coloring books
You can talk about where you’re going and what activities you’re going to do through drawing and coloring. Talk to your traveling toddler about what they want to do when you land. What do they want to see, what do they want to do? Allowing them to express themselves gives you two a great opportunity to communicate, as well as stay entertained for hours. Another similar options would be modeling with clay. All great ways to keep their little hands and growing minds busy.
Bring earphones for them
If you’re luckier than us, your child may actually sit and watch a movie on the flight. Remember, most domestic or shorter flights now require you bring your own devices. Pack a screen and earphones. Kids ears are small so make sure you have headphones that cover their ears and fit well to their head. Test it out before the flight. Nothing worse than getting new headphones and finding out, only once you’re on the flight, that they don’t fit.
Download Netflix shows for on the go
Have some shows ready to watch on the go. Download them in advance in case there is trouble with in-flight internet. I love that you can do this now. On longer travel days or even if sitting and eating a late dinner at a restaurant (as custom in many hotter countries), in a pinch you may have to become “those parents” and let them watch a show. It’s all about survival folks.
Ask the flight attendant for an extra meal
Most flights have enough food for each seat plus a couple extras. If your child is under two and on your lap, their meal is not included. Most flight attendants are very accommodating to parents with traveling toddlers, and will do their best to grab you an extra one, if they have it available. Don’t rely on this though, in case they can’t accommodate you, have a backup up meal plan.
Don’t be afraid to pack children’s Tylenol
Altitude and air pressure in a plane can cause problems for your ears but most of us know how to wiggle our jaw or pop our ears to fix it. A newbie traveling toddler doesn’t know these tricks. The air pressure can be a lot for them to handle and you want to be prepared. Children’s Tylenol can help.
If you’ve been the parent travelling solo on a long flight with an overly tired toddler that’s screaming, while you’re pacing up and down the aisles in the back near the washrooms, hoping the loud engine means no one can hear you… you’ll understand, you have to do what you need to do, to survive.
It’s All Worth it for You and Your Traveling Toddler
When you get to your final destination, your traveling toddler gets one on one time with you that they may not get at home if either or both of you are working parents. There are new places to run around and explore, new foods to taste, new animals to see. Remember, it’s just as much of an adventure for them, as it is for you.
While most people will tell you to leave them at home because they won’t remember it anyways, you will, and those memories will stay with you and in the photos you share with them later.
I don’t know many people who have the ability to, or would want to, leave their children home for a trip longer than 2 weeks. But an extended trip means you get to see and do a lot more during that longer vacation. So extend that trip and bring your traveling toddler. You both will appreciate it in the long run. Plus, locals love kids, no matter where you go. Bringing your traveling toddler means you get a different local experience.
Trust me, it’s worth it.