Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Ultimate Guide To Traveling With Toddlers ♥

We’re right in the beginning of 2018. For many people, this means starting on a new leaf, becoming a better person than they were last year by shedding bad habits and taking on new good ones. For those of us who like to travel however, this is the time to schedule trips and to hunt for travel deals, as booking months in advance usually yields better prices on favourite destinations.

So you fire up your computer and start searching for travel bargains… then you remember that there is one tiny little thing that has been stopping you from traveling—you have a toddler, or toddlers. Toddlers are prone to running around all the time, having tantrums and generally messing things up - all things which can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare. Being in a foreign country can make this at least ten times worse because you wouldn’t immediately know where to run to for staple items such as nappies or medicine (fond holiday memories of that time we searched high and low in Spain for a packet of nappies. *Tip* Nappies are quite expensive in Spain, so try and pack all you'll need before you go).

Fortunately, there are many things you can do that can make traveling with your energetic little ones pleasant and make the experience of traveling an actual joy, even with toddlers (and this is coming from someone who traveled across the coast of south Portugal in a very hot bus with a very energetic toddler in tow!)

Here’s some things you can do so you can try to have a stress-free vacation with toddlers.

Book in advance
This tip applies not just to those with little kids, but to anyone who wants to travel. Booking ahead ensures you get great prices for airfare and hotels, the best seats on the plane, and other perks too (varies from one provider to the next). Going on aggregator sites may get you good deals all year round, but doing it way in advance gets you even better deals. So make it a habit to plan ahead.

For parents with very young children, booking in advance is especially important. While single travelers or child-free couples are content with just getting a plane ticket to Europe at half off, as a parent you want both this AND the most spacious seats in the plane (*Tip* We usually reserve the seats at the back up the plane, as we've found this is the quietest section and having empty seats nearby means that there's room for the kids to lie down if they nap during the flight). Depending on the age of your toddler, this extra space provided by front of plane and wing exist seats is extremely useful for when your toddlers are asleep, or as a little activity area when they get restless. If you're luckily enough to have your toddler happily, quietly relaxing in your arms, you can use the space to stretch your undoubtedly tired legs from running after your child earlier at the airport.

Remember that both you and your toddlers are travellers
While most people remember to bring the essentials for their children while traveling—clothes, nappies, food, etc.—they often forget that at this moment, while on the plane or upon landing on a different city or country, their toddlers officially become travelers, too. This means that the normal toddler stuff back at home is no longer sufficient—you have to give them traveler stuff too. Kids’ apps on smartphones or tablets are a given, as are extra clothes and toys. You have to make sure you bring a few more additional things to complete your toddler’s travel experience. I've written before about our toddler holiday essentials if you're looking for ideas.

Stuff your carry-on luggage with snacks for both you and your toddler. This time, instead of limiting yourself to the usual baby food, bring food items that your toddlers love, like lollies, raisins, and chopped grapes. This has a dual function: it will allow them to snack on something while bored (as adults do), and can also be used as a bribe when they can’t seem to stay put (as adults sometimes do).

Traveling is not complete without photos and now is a wonderful time to teach your toddler the joys of tourist photo taking. Give them a camera (not a smartphone, but a digital camera or even a polaroid camera if you have one) and have them take photos of anything they find interesting. You would be amazed at what they take photos of, and you also empower them a little bit by giving them control of something. After the holiday, you can have a little activity where you ask your toddler about the photos they took and pop them in a scrapbook for them to remember their travels by.

You’re going to do a lot of walking around, so have your toddlers explore as much as they can with you on foot. They will however eventually run out of steam though due to the heat and excitement of all your exploring. Before going on a trip with a toddler, find a double buggy - Baby Gear Guide has a great selection comparison, and invest in one. Double buggies are useful when your toddlers are out of commission for the rest of the day but you want to keep exploring. You don’t need two toddlers to use a double buggy—you can put your recharging kid in one and all your stuff in the other for an even more relaxing walk.

Other tips
Instead of leashing or holding on to your toddler extensively, give them freedom to walk around on their own. Keep an eye on them, but as a backup plan, bring a child locator as well in case they become especially good at hide and seek.

Pack a first-aid kit or two and bring them, even while on the plane. You’ll never know when your child will have a fever or cut themselves—they’re still capable of running around in the plane, after all—and you’ll be thanking yourself for being ready.

Lastly, one great tip if you're traveling long-haul, is to book an overnight flight. An overnight flight can potentially help keep your flight a peaceful one because your little one will most likely be asleep.

Keep these simple tips in mind and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing, relaxing, and mostly-hassle free vacation with your toddler (they can still cry at night when you’re trying to sleep in your hotel). Have fun traveling with your toddler and make it memorable for the whole family!
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