A Parent’s Guide to Toddler Travel

by on November 1st, 2010
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My husband and I love to travel, which is lucky because we’re obligated to travel constantly. On average we fly ten times a year to visit family on the East coast and on the Texas coast. When you’re going to see family it’s definitely an obligation. Given all the choices in the world, would I travel to a secluded beach and explore an unknown culture with my husband and baby – the two people in the world I’ve actually chosen to spend my time with? Or would I travel home where my aunts and uncles can make me feel uncomfortable about the casserole I tried to make when I was 14? Tough choice.

Every year over the holidays, we fulfill our obligations and spend a week with each side of our families. We consider ourselves fairly efficient when it comes to packing, but packing for our two week adventure has always been a nightmare. We have to pack for two different climates, one tropical, one the opposite for two weeks. The worst part is now we have to pack for three for two for two. The math is still making my head spin.

Most people say traveling with a toddler can be a nightmare, but I wouldn’t call toddler travel a nightmare, I’d call toddler packing a nightmare. I spent several months in preparation for the holiday adventure we were to embark upon. I researched the best toddler toys to take on a plane for a one year old, how to best travel with a car seat, and how to ultimately travel with a stroller. I spent a week putting together outfits that could be worn in both climates and any necessary supplies we would need while we were on vacation. Two days before we leave, I do all of our laundry. The day before we leave, I pack and I pack and I pack. Eight hours of packing, reorganizing and crying, I finish. Molly’s stuff takes up one suitcase and two carry on size bags, which leaves my husband and I left with one bag to share for the both of us. What happened to me? I’m squeezing beauty supplies into travel size containers and all of it into one of my husband’s oversized shoes to keep them safe. This isn’t me. Well, wasn’t. Our baby requires three suitcases? What happened to her? I used to be able to travel with a backpack for her. How did she get so needy? In a couple of years I’ll be able to just pack an Ipad and it will be all she needs. For now, diapers and food and clothes are still a necessity.

In any case, after all the research, it’d be a shame to go to waste. Here are a few traveling tips I’ve picked up along the way:
1. You can wear things twice, unless you are walking a runway, no one cares.
2. Take items you can mix and match.
3. Buy a tablet, I don’t care which one. Just make sure you can download apps for your toddler & yourself.
4. Download movies to your tablet or bring DVDs with a small DVD player. Travel is not the time to worry about too much TV.
5. Snacks for your child and yourself are mandatory. A hungry kid is a whining kid.
6. Travel during sleep times. The airplane is a big white noise machine, especially for babies.
7. Rotate who watches the kids and who gets to relax and read or sleep.
8. For toddlers, make them walk in the airport, wear them out, they will want to sit still longer on the plane.
9. Make sure to order online and ship all presents to your families before you leave. Less packing!
10. Your baby is going to cry. The passengers in the plane are not as mad about it as you are embarrassed about it.
11. Hide some toys before you travel. Breaking them out on the plane will earn you about 5 minutes of excitement.
12. Change the baby before you get on the plane. You know that movie where the guy tried to shave on the airplane and ended up cutting himself pretty bad? Changing a baby on a plane is worse.
13. You want your child to be either sleeping or sucking on something during takeoff and landing. Plan accordingly.
14. They don’t have milk on most planes. And you can’t pack a mini cow. The solution for this problem is on you.
15. Enjoy yourself once you reach your destination. Everyone’s family is quirky, so let it go and laugh.


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