Last year around this time, I wrote about how to take a car trip with an infant. Now that airline travel is back and we’ve flown with our now toddler, I’ve gotten some questions about tips for traveling with a toddler.
I’m no expert, but here are some tips for traveling with a toddler that have worked for us. *All tips herein apply to domestic travel only.
One // Plan flights around nap times. We’ve had the most success when flights fall around Valentina’s nap time. It ensures she’ll sleep for at least part of the flight and allows us to maintain some semblance of her routine.
Two // Book a separate seat for your toddler. For safety reasons, we’ve always booked a separate seat for Valentina and brought her travel car seat on board to install. Does she usually want to get out of said seat? Always! But having her own seat is much better for everyone’s comfort.
Three // Try to keep a routine but let go of perfection. On the day of travel and when you arrive at your destination, try to keep a routine. I’m talking the basics like morning routine, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, milk and bedtime, but let go of perfection. If Valentina doesn’t nap on the flight at the exact time she should nap, I don’t worry because I know she’ll eventually nap. I’ve had to learn to let it go.
Four // Bring lots of new toys and books. Novelty is key. I like to buy little toys that are new to Valentina and bring a few of her favorite books. When I sense she’s getting antsy, I start taking them out. These mess free markers, these reusable stickers and these finger puppets have been some of our favorites. All of these items + more are on my Baby and Toddler Amazon list.
Five // Pack plenty of snacks. I typically pack enough food for a meal (or two) and also plenty of her favorite snacks. When we travel, we always buy extra snacks so I can stash some in the suitcase to have on hand when we get to our destination. I pack meals in this Bento Box and I love this freezable cooler bag. It keeps food cold for hours and I can fit some applesauce pouches, string cheese and a sip cup of milk alongside the bento box.
Six // Screen time is not a dirty word. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that we don’t put limits on screen time when we travel. We have this tablet to which we download the maximum number of shows and it keeps Valentina quiet and entertained on flights and long car rides. When we’re home, we put the tablet away so it’s specifically for travel and I’m hoping it stays that way for as long as possible.
Seven // Pack a Change of Clothes in Your Carry On or Diaper Bag. For you and your child. I throw in simple leggings and a t-shirt for me and a separate outfit or two for her in case of spills or accidents. I also love to bring one or two muslin blankets that work to cover her while she naps on the plane or to block sun or light if she needs to nap in her stroller. As a last resort you can use them to cover an airport or airplane changing table, mop up spills and other glamorous .
Once you get to your destination, try to also keep some semblance of a routine for meals and bed/nap times, but also relax and enjoy yourself. If a nap is short, late or doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. (I know, it feels like it, but I promise, it’s not). Remember, you’re traveling with a toddler. Life is different now. It’s better! Not only that, you’re raising a little person (or people) who will hopefully grow up to love travel just like you!
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