Are you planning a trip with your toddler? Are you worried about what to bring and how to occupy your child during the long flights or car drives? Here are 10 things to pack and prepare for your trip when traveling with toddlers!
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1) Busy Bags – Busy bags are a must if you have a toddler. Keep them in the car, in your diaper bag, and at home for rainy days. Add puzzles, coloring books, Legos, toys, etc to any size or shaped bag. Pull them out when you go to a restaurant, church or any place where your kid shouldn’t be running wild. Make 3 or 4 for the trip with different themes to keep your little ones busy on a flight or in the car. Tip: Put in different size and textured objects.
2) Books – Pack a book or two that your little one loves to read on their own or out loud. Books with flaps or different textures can keep them occupied. Plus, books are easy to travel with and do not take up too much room in diaper bags or carry-on luggage.
3) Electronics – Don’t forget to pack the iPad or extra tablet with movies and apps for your little ones. When all your activities are old, the toys are lame, and the idea of taking laps down the aisle of airplane is too boring, bring out a tablet! Make sure to preload everything before you go and test out apps that are new. You don’t want to be halfway on your trip only to find out your toddler hates everything on there.
4) Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks – Space can be tight when you’re traveling, but make sure to pack a lot of snacks or plan to buy them along your way (at the airport, at various stops on the road trip, etc). Nothing quiets a little one like a good snack or the promise of a good snack. Try choosing options that take longer to eat like apples, raisins, and cheerios. If there are snacks you do not normally give your little one, pack a few surprises in case of a meltdown or tough point on the trip. Mix in a few new snacks that are part of the region or part of the culture of you trip!
5) Plan for stops – If you’re taking a long drive this holiday season, make sure to plan for stops and fun along the way. Break up the trip so that your little one can get the wiggles out. See if there are historic sites, child friendly restaurants or parks for impromptu picnics. A 30 minute session outdoors or in a new environment will help the drive go smoothly and possibly make your kids tired enough for a good old cat nap!
6) Time – If you think the road trip will take 3 hours, add another 2 hours to that estimation. There is no way of predicting what will happen with your toddler or baby so prepare extra cushion room before important flights and on road trips. Diaper blow outs, tantrums, vomit and lost shoes/socks/toys are bound to happen at the time you least expect it. Give yourself room to settle in and get your bearings together before the next inevitable accident.
7) Diaper bag – Prepare a bag that has a little bit of everything for everyone on the trip. Include an extra shirt for parents and one change of outfit per child. Bring a few more diapers than you think necessary; have an extra blanket on hand in case someone is cold or needs a clean place to lay down; include a full size pack of wipes and small first-aid kit for emergencies.
If you’re driving this holiday season, use an open bin in between the car seats so that you can easily access the things you need. An open bin full of toys for the kids to play with and put back in on their own wouldn’t hurt either!
8) Medicine/first aid – Keep a little bag of first-aid supplies in your car or diaper bag for emergencies. Include a few Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, children’s Tylenol, children’s Benadryl, some children’s gas medicine (like Gripe Water) and a tiny hand sanitizer. Usually hotels and flights will have a first aid kit for adults, but not children so make sure to include items you know your little one would need.
9) Surprises – These surprises are in addition to the items above and activities you’ve already planned for the kids. Wrap small presents (or toys from home) individually in small packages or Easter eggs and keep them in your bag. If you little ones are having a hard time on the flight or drive, use these surprises to help pass the time and give them something to look forward to. You can save them for emergency tantrums or turn it into a game where you give your toddler one egg/gift every half hour until you’ve arrived at your destination. Even if the gift is a small toy they already play with at home, the wrapping and presentation of receiving it unexpectedly will be a fun treat!
10) Travel Around Sleep Schedules – One way to ensure that your little one sleeps on the flight or in the car is to travel when they normally take naps or sleep (like a red eye flight). Not always easy for you, but easier on the toddler. A 2-3 hour nap on a 6 hour flight or drive will be worth the odd travel hours. If you’re flying, one recommendation is to dress yourself and your child in layers so that a jacket can easily be used as a blanket or pillow and you can be prepared for unexpected climate changes.