Thinking of traveling with a toddler can be scary, especially if you are new to traveling with your little one. I had no idea what to expect when we took our first trip with Elijah. I WISH that I had found an article like this one to help me prepare for what I was about to encounter. There were so many mistakes made! I hope that this article helps you prepare for traveling with your toddler by not making the same mistakes I did!
- Always bring a stroller. Always. I know what you are thinking- why did she list this as #1? Isn’t that a given? You would think so, but for me, it wasn’t. We went to the Bahamas for Elijah’s first airplane traveling experience. Three airports and a trip through customs; no stroller. I will just let you imagine how wonderful that experience was. Now multiply it by 100. Me being the stubborn person I am- didn’t want to have to deal with dragging a stroller through the airport. A hassle, I said. Why did I think dragging my toddler through the airport would be a better option? We have never flown without one since.
- Don’t care what other people think during the flight. Yes- I said it. If someone has a problem with your toddler being loud or crying because he/she is tired- they don’t have children. Luckily- we have always been surrounded by wonderful people. When Elijah would throw a fit, some would give me the mom nod. You know the nod. The “I totally feel your pain right now” nod. I have heard horror stories of people getting angry over crying children. I just want to ask, “Do you think we as parents enjoy it? Do you think we WANT our children to be doing this right now?” Don’t care what other people think- it will only escalate your stress. Yep, that is my child (with no shoes) running down the aisle of the airplane, “helping” the flight attendant pick up trash!
- Buy a ticket for your toddler. If at all possible. I know in some instances it will not be doable, but I HIGHLY recommend it. When I talk about not caring what people think above, it is SO much easier to not care when you have an entire row to yourselves and can “contain” your toddler. I also learned this lesson. We can save money, I said. He will be fine in my lap, I said. After the trip to the Bahamas I would now sell something if I had to- just to pay for a separate ticket. Did I mention my 18 month old was a baby giant? Can you imagine how it was holding him in my lap for 2+ hours…..on a plane? While he’s crying? Case in point- but a ticket for your child and give your lap (and sanity) a break.
- Always check a car seat. When traveling with a toddler it is IMPERATIVE to bring a car seat along. DO NOT- I repeat- DO NOT think that any car service/ rental car company will be able to provide you with said car seat that is needed. I know because, again, I’ve made this mistake. We did not rent a car in the Bahamas. We did have a car pick us up to take us to our destination. We requested a car seat for the trip. When the car arrived we loaded luggage and proceeded to put Elijah in the car seat…..it was a rear facing infant carrier. We specified our need when we made the reservation (age, height, etc). A rear facing infant seat- really? How was I going to get my baby giant strapped into one of these?!?!? Again- I will leave that up to your imagination. When we got home we immediately purchased a car seat bag that has backpackish capabilities from amazon and it has changed our life. If you would like to bless yourselves, you can check it out here. Just remember, a child is used to the car seat they use on a daily basis. It is their happy place, and when they are in a happy place, everyone is happy!
- Backpack full of the big guns. iPad. Books. Toys. Crayons. Headphones. Snacks. More snacks. Did I mention snacks? Bring anything you can pull out that will magically entertain your child for at least 15min. (Wishful thinking, I know). I do recommend downloading your little ones favorite tv episodes to the iPad prior to traveling. I didn’t pay for the wifi on our first flight, and had 2 episodes of Mickey Mouse clubhouse that I tried to convince Elijah was a different episode every time. Now we have about 10 episodes of 5 different shows locked and loaded just ready to be played. Remember this- no matter how much you cram into one backpack- it will NEVER be enough! Use it when you sense a meltdown coming. You know- a “we are going to get kicked off this airplane” meltdown. This is for your own good! We use this backpack. We can literally fit our entire lives in it!
- Try to choose a flight according to nap schedules. Yes I know- it sounds extreme, and in some cases, not possible. I have done it both ways and I can honestly say the flight that coincided with Elijah’s nap time was the best flight I’ve ever had. He literally slept the ENTIRE time (mom win). I had people encourage me to give him Benadryl before the flight so he would sleep. Me being the proud and stubborn (did I mention I was stubborn?) mom that I am just knew I would be ok if he didn’t fall asleep. How bad can 2 hours be? Wrong. It can feel like an eternity with a toddler fighting sleep. If you can coincide flight times with nap time you are golden. Rested child=happy child=happy momma.
- Think about sleeping arrangements. Where will everyone sleep once you reach your destination? Such a simple yet important question. One that I wish I had asked myself before embarking on our first travel adventure with Elijah. We got a room with a king bed thinking that they would have some sort of pull out couch etc for my at the time 18 month old. Our assumptions were wrong and you know what they say about assuming…..once we arrived and realized the only options we had were to put him in bed with us or get a rolling “crib” we stared at each other until we settled on getting a crib. We could always put him in bed with us if that didn’t work. Sounds fair enough, right? Wrong. So very wrong. Now- I must say first that Elijah is very tall for his age, ranking in the 95th percentile on height. Please- just imagine a rolling crib that was provided to us…..he looked like a baby giant in this thing. We laughed until we cried. My poor child suffering because of our ignorance. Bless him. Needless to say- we ALWAYS think about sleeping accommodations when planning trips now. We look for hotels that have a 2 bedroom option, or we VRBO condos that have multiple bedrooms. My child is not a co-sleeper, and as I said before- a rested child=happy child=happy momma.
- Patience. This last tip is coming from someone who struggles with patience every single day. As moms, I think we all do. Honestly, it will be your strongest weapon when flying/traveling with a toddler. You will be on a plane with no exit strategy; it will be what it will be. At the end of the day, when you have finally reached your destination and all has settled, you will feel accomplished. Like a warrior. Then you will erase it from your mind, enjoy your trip and make memories with your toddler that will last a lifetime!
What tips/tricks did I miss? I would love to hear from y’all!!!!! Use the comment section below and let me know!!!!!!!
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