Tips for Traveling with a Toddler
Traveling with a toddler is so different than traveling with a baby. Every stage has its unique challenges, but I look back to when we went to Japan (more on that trip here) with Milo and realize how lucky we were to go before he was crawling. As someone who loves to travel, I still find traveling with a toddler to be worthwhile – even if it is tricky – and that having the right tools makes it so much easier.
Here are a few tips and tricks that have really helped us:
Fly during nap time. If possible, plan your trip around nap time. It doesn’t always work, and we all know how tricky it is to be stuck on a plane with a cranky over-tired baby. But when it does work, it’s a great thing for everyone involved. I find that the best way to do it is to find a flight that leaves 3o minutes or so before nap time. Although a little more challenging, we have also taken late evening flights and have had some good luck with Milo falling asleep. We make sure to change him into his pjs and give him dinner beforehand, so that when we get home it is an easy transition to the crib.
Make time to run around. Once kids are mobile, they need time to run around. Early on, one of my missteps was making too many plans that required Milo to be in his stroller or confined to a high chair. Toddlers that are learning to walk and run need space to explore. Before taking a flight, we make sure that we let Milo walk around in the airport so that he isn’t restless on the plane. If we have time before we head to the airport, we’ll take him to the playground or the Children’s Museum so he can have fun and stretch his legs.
Pack a loaded carry-on. When traveling with a baby, you need all of the essentials: diapers, extra change of clothes, nursing cover or bottle, and a few little toys. When traveling with a toddler, your needs have changed. Of course you need diapers and those essentials in case of a mess, but you also need lots of items to help distract and bide the time. At 16 months, Milo loves small books like this one, little cars, a travel aquadoodle or water wow, and a teething toy. We love flying JetBlue because of the snacks, but we’re always sure to bring our own, too. Make sure you pack a few of your toddler’s favorites, and maybe a treat or two.
Be imaginative. Truth be told, the best way to enjoy the flight with a toddler (or at least that I have found) is to use your imagination. You are going on an adventure, and I would use that energy to make the trip fun! We love playing hide and seek with a blanket, telling stories while looking out the window, and using the time to snuggle.
When all else fails, you can take turns walking up and down the aisle, visiting the flight attendants (who are usually more than happy to say hi), and even having a little screen time. As a mother, I’ve found that every flight and every baby is different, but I’m always learning and love to share the things that have made a difference for us. I’m curious, what tips and tricks do you have for traveling with toddlers? We are headed to Mexico in eight days, so I’m all ears!