Traveling with a toddler in tow can be a challenge, especially if you also have older children who also want to enjoy the trip. As a mom of a toddler and a school-age child, I’ve learned that planning ahead can go a long way to ensure that a trip is enjoyable for the entire family. Here are my best tips for traveling with a toddler.
Things to Do While Traveling with Toddlers
1. Take Along a White Board
Take along a white board and some dry erase markers. This way your toddler can have fun drawing while on the road. Have a couple of them on hand – one for drawing and another that you have made into a letters practice board with an example already on the board. Tip: Don’t leave the child alone with the markers.
2. Play Guessing Games
Play guessing games while on the road. I Spy with My Little Eye is a classic travel game. You could also make a game with categories, such as animals. Give them a descriptive clue and have them guess.
3. Use Sticky Notes
Sticky notes are great in a car or airplane. Draw some simple pictures and stick them to the back of the seat in front of them. Choose and name one of the items and have your toddler pick it out.
4. Window Watch
Another way to have fun while traveling with your toddler is to look out the window and talk about what you see. “I see a tree, I see a blue car, and I see a store,” etc. Although this may seem a little mundane, it will help your toddler with building their vocabulary.
5. Take Along Familiar Toys
Make sure to take along some of your toddler’s favorite toys. One or two should be sufficient. This will make them feel comfortable and they can interact with them while you are busy driving to your destination. If traveling by air, having the toy accompanying them for the ride will make it less stressful. I like to pack a few dollar store gifts all wrapped up for them. During the flight they get to open their presents. This tip is very entertaining and takes up time! See here for more tips on flying with a toddler.
6. Stick to THEIR Schedule
When at all possible, stick to your toddler’s non-travel time schedule. If he/she normally naps at 2, try to make that happen. Yes, it likely won’t be in a bed, but giving them the rest in a stroller or in a car seat will often suffice. I’ve been known to drive my toddler around town just to get them to settle down and fall asleep. Meal times are also important. In travel, we often get wrapped up in our experiences that meals get pushed back. Kids get crabby (just like adults) when they’re hungry.
Travel experiences are fantastic opportunities for children of all ages. It’s important to set appropriate expectations on what a toddler can and cannot handle on vacation. Be sure to take lots of photos because later down the road that’s likely how they will best remember the experiences you provided them.