Is traveling with a toddler hard? Yes.
Is traveling with a toddler easy? Yes.
How well you are prepared will determine the success of your journey. That along with expecting the worst and a major sense of humor will do you and your child much benefit.
When Naji and I took Tracy with us on vacation she had just turned 3 and we were wondering if it was the proper time to introduce travel to her agenda. Though it might be early and she might soon forget her experience, but it is a step towards shaping the young mind to be tolerant to various cultures and differences, along with a sense of adventure and independence for the future. If you are planning for something similar, I hope my suggestions help you out.
1. Pack snacks for the airport and plane ride, hungry kids are restless kids. And whatever they usually eat on average, pack triple. Once you arrive to your destination, locate the nearest markets and get some snacks that don’t require refrigeration and keep handy for when your child gets hungry and it’s not time for your lunch or dinner break, that way they can eat as you walk around.
2. Have your child carry a small backpack to carry some of their daily belongings, it will teach them responsibility and a sense of personal space. Things you can include in their bag are wet wipes, tissues, sunglasses, hat, a plush toy and a snack.
3. Take sticker books, books, coloring pencils and paper to pass time for the plane ride. If they play with a tablet even better, install games and download videos ahead of time but don’t forget the charger. Leave them aside when you land and are exploring so your child will engage their senses to discovering the city with you.
4. Make sure you bring along medicine for any sudden illness, flu, fever, burns and scrapes, in addition to a thermometer. Include tissues, wet wipes and toilet sanitizer. Medication may differ from one country to another, so take whatever you usually use at home with you. Get everything you need for their bedtime routine. Carry along small bottles of their shampoo and body wash, hotel soaps might be rough on their skin. Toothbrush, toothpaste, saline water, hairbrush and of course milk.
5. Allow them to explore and to live a not so comfortable life. Not everything is ideal in the world and it’s good to get out of their comfort zone. They can learn to walk instead of ride a car, be responsible, become more disciplined, interact with people from over the world and live like the locals. Don’t suffocate them, allow them to breathe and take their own metro seat, mingle with children and choose their meals.
6. Invest in a lightweight stroller, it is indispensable. It doesn’t need to be expensive, as long as it’s light and sturdy with a sun cover. Kids tire quickly so this is the perfect way for them to relax and even nap. Meanwhile you can also use it to hang your shopping bags on the handles!
7. Plan many of your visits to kid friendly areas, because traveling can and should be educational, it’s a fun way to learn outside of the classroom. Aquariums, zoos, parks, picnics, amusement parks and even train and cable car rides are a few examples of fun learning.
8. No need to miss out on the city’s nightlife, plan your evening out around your child’s needs. This will mean heading back to the hotel to bathe your child and get them dressed in pajamas, and once you go out again your kid can fall asleep in the stroller (bring a light cover with you for the chill) and you can enjoy a night at the local pub. When we did it we thought we would be looked down upon as horrible parents, when we soon discovered countless tables with adults and their children asleep in strollers.
9. Bathroom breaks are essential, try to include cafe stops as frequently as every 2-3 hours. Sit down, have coffee and make use of their facilities. Then again at lunch time and so on and so forth. That being said, and even if your child is well past being potty trained, bring extra underwear and shorts along for possible accidents.
10. Handle tantrums with a sense of humor, ignore gawking people around you, and don’t panic. Laugh it off and go on with your journey. Many of your fellow travelers will be families with small children, it surely can be done!