Toddler Travel Tips
Few folks have commented on how our travel posts have inspired them to take a few trips on their own. I am thrilled to read that 🙂 Vipul and I love to travel. We have travelled with Varun since he was a baby – from a road trip down to California, to coastal town of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, weeklong trip to East Coast to meet our friends and family and then an 18 hour + trip to India.
We started early and gradually increased the flight times to destinations. We modified our travel plans to suit his needs – nap time, stretch and play time and slowed down our pace. And of course we learnt from each trip.
This is a compilation of our top travel tips. We mostly fly as Varun doesn’t take to road trips very well – he hates being strapped in the car seat. But they should work on road trips if you add music to take along. Works for our active 2 1/2-year-old.
1. Plan a trip around nap time
This is a no brainer. Most parenting and travel websites talk about it. Its easier said than done. If it’s a road trip, its easy to plan this. Start driving post lunch and munchkin will fall asleep. With flights and their long pre-checkin procedures ( drive to airport, luggage check in, security etc) this is harder. Plan the flight such that the in flight time is a bit later than usual nap time. Toddlers are excited being at airport, seeing the baggage go down conveyor belts, security procedures etc. They even like going up and down the escalators. Its tiring but exciting. So they may very well sleep later than usual. At least Varun does.
As soon as we take off, he usually sleeps.
2.Few new toys
If he doesn’t sleep, we let him play with his seat – push the tray table up and down, lower and raise the window shade, remove and put up the seat belt. But after a while even that gets boring. Its time to bring out few small toys – beads, four pack crayons and paper, doodle pads, post it’s in different shapes and color, small books to read. We have his favorite cartoons and rhymes on our iPhone.
We usually carry Varun’s favorite snacks in small zip locks. Cheerios, bananas, raisins, puffed rice, juice box ( a travel treat for him), coco puffs, oranges etc. While in US, string cheese, gold-fish crackers worked for Varun as well. Kids get hungry and can’t wait for the air hostess to bring food or water so having a handy stock with variety helps. I keep his current favorite snack on hand – like cake, laddoos, blueberries, grape tomatoes etc. Oh, and the single serving toned milk packets help tremendously. A couple in the diaper bag and we are set to go. I havent seen those in US – but in US any Starbucks will give you milk for free for your kid even if you don’t buy anything there.
4. Handy stroller
When Varun was a baby, we checked in his car seat ( to be used at destination), but we carried the stroller to the gate.We use the stroller even now on our trips.
Ours is a semi-reclining compact stroller ( a Baby Jogger City Mini), that can carry diaper bag and my purse as well as one more hand bag if necessary. If Varun was asleep, I could simply recline him and let him sleep. If he was awake or refused to sit in, I put all the hand carry in it and push it easily. It’s easy to fold and unfold and folds down flat for easier gate check. It fits in our sedan’s trunk well for road trips.
5. Keep extra clothes (for you and the baby)
Again, a no brainer. On our first trip we carried a diaper and a onsie for each hour of travel time ( door to door). Between spitups, throwup’s, exploding poops and food stains, we have had to change clothes often and used up all the clothes. But now its down to 2-3 pairs of clothes and diapers. A shawl or scarf helps me cover up when messes occur on my shirt.
6. A handy Diaper bag
You need a good diaper bag that can carry all the above, sits comfortably on you and on the stroller and has several compartments to hold food, toys, snacks, clothes, diapers and wipes, is wipe-able and works for both of you. Oh, and it has to be accessible while moving/chasing a toddler. Diaper Dude fits our need perfectly.
7. Burn energy
Before getting on the flight, let your toddler run around. Chase him around. Let him push the bags/stroller etc. This will tire him out. Then get him something to eat once on boarded and pretty sure he will crash once you start cruising.
8. Keep tissues and wipes handy
We wipe down spills, food dribbles, sticky hands and feet etc. Also helps to wipe down play area toys. I loved that Emirates airlines gave us a box of facial tissues when we boarded the flight. One for each flight. One less thing to carry on. Small hand sanitizer bottles help as well.
9. Dont forget trash bags
Needless to add, keep a large trash bag or ziplock handy for the wipes, tissues, wrappers, juice boxes, wet clothes, soiled diapers etc. Super useful to contain the mess and keep your diaper bag dry.
These are our on-flight/car tips. Toddlers don’t need to be prepared to travel. Parents do 🙂
Stay tuned for how we pack for the trip – from medicines, toys and snacks for return trip, bottle washing tips etc.