Traveling with toddlers By Rowena Carr-Allinson
Traveling with toddlers doesnât have to be a struggle. (Flickr: lkonstanski)
Once you get past the idea that taking your toddlers on a trip is a guaranteed nightmare and you get planning, youâll soon see that traveling with toddlers doesnât have to be a struggle. There are plenty of ways to make the experience fun and enriching for everyone involved. Here are some of my tried and tested tips when going on family vacation with a toddler in tow.
My first piece of advice is to âkeep it realâ. Some might say itâs on a par with lowering your expectations. When traveling with toddlers on your family vacation there will be ups of course, but also downs. Itâs best to keep it real and realize that not everything will go according to plan. Some things may go wrong, and it probably wonât be the perfect experience you dreamed of. However, it can be fun, and if you keep your expectations realistic, youâll avoid the disappointments.
My next tip for a toddler-friendly trip is to plan it all down to the finest detail. I canât say it enough: the key is in the planning and leaving nothing to chance. Plan for all eventualities, and even then, there are some youâre bound to forget. But itâs clear that the better prepared you are, the less youâll be rocked by the unexpected! Think about all aspects of the trip, from the logistics and the actual family-friendly hotel youâre staying in to the return journey. Think about the meals, the nap times, the clothes management. Yes, itâs a lot to think about, but the more you plan ahead, the easier it will be on the spot.
Another key element of traveling with a little one is the actual logistics of the packing. Thereâs nothing worse than standing in an airport with a bag half open, things falling out, desperately searching for that all essential wipe, toy, carrot stick or whatever solution you need to quash the latest emergency. My failsafe trick is to divide into various pocketsâor create more, thanks to ziplocksâthus splitting items up into functionality or type and knowing exactly where to dip my fingers when in need of water/sunglasses/sunscreen/wipes/nappies asap.
The next golden rule? Keep them busy! Parents who have taken toddlers on long (and short) trips will all tell you the same: keep the little ones entertained! Boredom is your number one enemy (together with lack of sleep!). Many family-friendly hotels also offer kidsâ club services and terrific activities for kids, so they have ways of expending their extra energy when youâre in need of some downtime. Whether youâre planning to visit kid-friendly attractions during your stay or downloading new apps on the iPad for the flight, the more they have to do, the easier it is on you.
Which leads me nicely to my next point. Always keep traveling toddlers fed. My sonâs nuclear meltdowns can be counted on both hands (thankfully) but one of the most memorable has gone down as the âTurkish-Meltownâ when we foolishly forgot food thinking he would be napping at a certain time. He didnât nap and weâll never forget to carry food again. He knows it too and now itâs hard to convince him otherwise, to wait for lunch for example. The other day he looked at me, age 4.5, and said âbut mummy, you always have foodâ â heavily accenting the âalwaysâ. And, so would you, if youâd been the adult in charge that day in Turkey. Thereâs nothing quite like a hungry (and tired) toddler to put a downer on a family vacation, with a spectacular (embarrassing) meltdown! So, remember to pack snacks and beverages aplenty so thereâs always something to nibble on in case of delays or remote island locations where lunch isnât served for another hour!
Rowena Carr-Allinson contributed this to MiniTime. Since the arrival of her son in 2011, she has taken him everywhere from Bangkok to NYC, writing family friendly articles en route.