Whether it's a short trip away to see friends or family, or a long vacation involving a flight or two, we have some great tips for travelling with your little one.
Travelling with toddlers. Just that line can give some of us at doddl cold sweats and shivers! You have no idea how it will go, you can plan everything to the finest detail - and have a nightmare. Or you plan nothing and have the easiest trip you've ever had. We've all travelled with endless bags of toys and snacks. Sometimes they don't even get opened, because something entirely random keeps our little angels entertained for hours. But as the saying goes, 'prior preparation prevents poor performance' (or something similar). So we're planners - for the just-in-cases. Here are just a few tips and ideas to try and make things as easy as possible for you - even if you may not need them...
It sounds so obvious, but just snack up. Take plenty. And a variety. Try and keep it healthy (for obvious reasons, but also because a sugar-filled traveling toddler is a thing of nightmares for everyone). And ideally ones that don't make too much mess. Raisins, bread sticks, chopped veggies (such as cucumber sticks/carrots), fruit crisps, a small pot of dried cereal are all ideal. And don’t forget to take plenty to drink. If they have a choice and that there is potentially more to come, it's a great way to keep them entertained. As well as avoiding any hunger rage. Take your doddl toddler utensils with you in its own utensil travel case. This means you always have familiar flatware handy, clean and safe for your meals out.
Make good toy selections (obvs)
A small selection of toddler’s favorite small toys. The hardest part of this is working out what that is. Most toddlers have a tendency to switch favorites without any prior warning. Cards (particularly spotter picture cards - red car, plane, dog etc), books, hand-held toys are great. Basically anything that doesn’t take too long to clear up. Whether you're on a plane, train or automobile, crawling around on the floor picking up a hundred toys is never fun. And the idea of losing any favorites is terrifying. It is worth investing in a lap activity tray with edges, especially the ones designed for car seats. These are great to allow toddlers / pre-schoolers to busy themselves with puzzles, drawing and games. And they help keep everything contained. All-singing all-dancing lap trays or simply a baking tray, plastic box lid or a highchair tray will do the job!
Them not you (yet!). It’s not always possible, and it can be a challenge to keep them awake for long enough before hand. But if you can, try to time long car journeys or flights to coincide with your little one’s normal nap routine. It will make the journey much easier for you and your toddler. It will also help to ease meltdowns and cranky children when you reach your destination.
To use technology or to not use technology...
Sometimes it's frowned upon to stick your child in front of a tablet or handheld device to keep them quiet. We're all guilty of judging parents that did this before we had kids. But as a parent on a packed flight, train or bus, there is nothing worse than a screaming child. Especially when you can feel everyone glaring at you to keep control of your little monster. So if Peppa Pig or BeatBugs is going to keep them quiet and entertained just go with it. Don’t torture yourself by resisting! An hour of extra screen time isn’t going to ruin them for life and it may be your lifesaver. And don’t forget to download their favorite programs before you travel. Audio books and nursery rhyme playlists are also a great way keep little ones entertained on long journeys. You may even get to relax for a while yourself.
Make flying easier
Try to travel light. Easier said than done with a toddler! If you can take one max-sized cabin bag with all your essentials it is so much easier than battling with a toddler and armfuls of hand luggage. Give them their own bag to wheel, carry or pull. They will love copying you pulling your cases along, but be mindful that you will end up carrying it onto the plane! Trunki and Littlelife bags are fantastic. They often come with straps so you pull along or keep hold of your toddler - great in a packed airport.
For long haul flights
You can sometimes book a bulkhead seat with travel cot or seat. The British Airways travel seats are like baby bouncers. It's worthwhile taking a large muslin, small sheet or thin blanket to lay on the seat before placing your infant on it - as they tend to be well used! Also take a light blanket to tuck over the top.
When flying give your child something to suck - bottle, breast or pacifier. This is to regulate their ear pressure, especially when starting the descent to land. The pressure change from 8,000ft (normal cabin pressure) to the ground is significant, especially the last 2,000ft. Swallowing helps to regulate babies' and toddlers' ear pressure.
Lastly, breathe, relax and enjoy…
Travelling with toddlers. We know how stressful journeys can be with little ones in tow. But at the end of the day, you're creating memories (good or bad!). And you can only prepare so much when you consider how unpredictable life can be with a toddler. Remember, you are not alone. There are many of us going through the same stresses and strains on the trip who will give you that 'I understand' look. And when you arrive, travelling with toddlers, however daunting it feels at first, will be worth the effort!