Traveling with a Toddler
As we are approaching when many families take off for spring break and or start making summer plans in advance, many of my clients will email me and say, traveling with a nursing baby or giving bottles on an airplane was easy, but what do I do with my toddler that can’t sit longer then 20 min on an airplane?!?! Traveling with toddlers is a gamble…it could totally go perfect or be a complete disaster. Either way, just look at it as an adventure!
WHAT TO BRING ON PLANE IN CARRIER ON FOR TODDLER (aka Marry Poppins Purse): Bring an iPad or Smart Tablet with toddler age appropriate games and coloring/drawing pages loaded on it. Download a bunch of their favorite shows or singing children shows are also good for their ages. Everything will last 5-20 min with a toddler before they are bored of it, and on to the next thing. Bring a few coloring books with crayons. A huge sticker book. Melissa and Doug has many activity sticker books and puffy sticker pads that are fun. A few of their favorite books they like to look at. Magic markers & magic marker coloring books are good for that age as well. Get comfy kid ear phones so they can listen to the iPad or smart table games, and not have to worry about the sound bothering the neighbor. Dry erase activity tracing books are fun for them to draw & erase, practicing shapes, letters & numbers. As a last resource in your now oversized Mary Poppins cary on bag, bring 2 boxes of fun character bandaids and play Mommy has a boo-boo. Have your toddler try to open each bandaid one by one and point to where you have a boo-boo, and let your child bandaid all your boo-boos. One box each will at least kill a good 20 mins. Last, carry a zip lock of a multitude of lollipops for the plane ride…these will be totally acceptable at any time of the day and needed! What ever lollipop takes longest to dissolve is the best! Pack their lunch and bring on board, + tons of snacks + more snacks + more snacks with toddlers. Bring a change of clothes (or two) for when (not if, but when) they spill or drench their water somehow all over them, and incase the flight gets delayed or baggage is lost.
TIME CHANGE: If your toddler sleeps normally through the whole night, then they will be on their clock. When you go East, it’s at your advantage, because Mommy and Daddy can stay up longer with your toddler an hour or so, and hopefully he/she sleeps in an hour later too….hopefully. He/she will be on their own schedule, so if the trip isn’t longer then 7-10 days, then your child will be hungry on their time zone they are used to. Bigger time changes 3-5 +hrs, you will just have a few days of hard transition, and do your best to roll with it. If giving the toddler a catnap in the stroller or hotel room to allow you guys to stay out a little later, then do so. Just do what brings sanity and makes most sense for all that is traveling with you, and do what makes you the least anxious. With smaller time changes, its best to keep on your time zone and then when you come home, there is no transition with time change. Going West, everyone is just going to have to get up earlier and watch the sunrise. As much as you hope for your toddler to sleep in going West, it may not happen the first few days. A positive for going West, your child is ready for dinner at happy hour, so hit up half-off drinks and appetizers and call it a meal! As for naps, if your child is a little off on nap times, it’s ok. You all are on vacation or a trip, what ever you want to call it, so if you all are off, it’s ok. When you get back home, back on your routine.
BEDTIME + NAP TIME: If you don’t have an option to have your toddler in another room, then try to find a closet or bathroom to put your toddler in. Incase he/she wakes early in the am, he/she isn’t staring at you right next to your bed at 4/5am. And when he/she goes to bed, he/she isn’t just wondering why Mommy and Daddy are sitting right next to her when he/she is going to bed. A little crying to sleep may be needed on vacay to go to bed if your toddler is confused where he/she is. And at nap time, you can do your thing in the hotel room/condo/house while he/she is napping, and no need to try to be like mice, just bring a sound machine or use a sound machine app on your phone, if needed.
STROLLER + CARSEAT + NAPS ON PLANE: You can bring the umbrella stroller or even a running collapsable stroller up to the front of the airplane, and they will load it under the plane…that is if you want it for the airport. Or, you can always ergo backpack your toddler if you need to rush through the airport and not have to worry about any tired toddler tantrums and making the tantrum child walk. This will help to, if you need to nap your toddler during the airplane ride, you can always ergo the toddler to sleep if need, unless too old, they will just fall asleep when tired enough on the plane. You can always bring a carseat on the plane, but you will have to buy a ticket for the toddler then. Personally, I have never done a carseat on the airplane because I knew my kids would never sit in it. Going for a 2 hr drive in a carseat is painful enough with younger then a 2 year old in a car seat. They only sleep 45 min-ish in the carseat anyways, so might as well have him/her sleep on you and not have to lug the carseat. I would just rent the carseat (call ahead) in the rental car company…that way, one less item to bring. But if it makes you feel safer to bring the carseat, then do so and it can always be loaded under the plane with a carseat cover.
Enjoy your vacation, trip, adventure (what ever you want to call it)…and always remember, it’s ok if your toddler is a little off their normal routine, you’re on vacation!