Ever since we had our daughter Stella 3 years ago, we have taken her traveling with us all over the world. Don’t get me wrong, when I first had her, the thought of traveling in an airplane was daunting with all that we would have to bring. However, now I feel like I’ve created ways to make traveling fun and easy for all of us. Over the years I have met a lot of moms that tell me they don’t bring their kid(s) on vacations with them. They say that it’s too much work but then they end up missing them and wishing they were there. I’d love to share with you some of my tips for traveling with a toddler in hopes that you can create more ease and fun in your travels with your little ones. Please note, I do know that every child is different and what works for Stella may not work for your little one. My hope is that at least one of these tips will make life easier for you.
We first took our daughter on an airplane at 4 months old and now at 3 she has been all around the world. I am a firm believer that you can take your kids almost anywhere to experience life with you. (I also realize it’s a lot easier with one child.)
That being said, here is my mommies guide and tips to traveling with a toddler long distances in a plane.
Planning is key- Each time before we go on a trip I make a list of everything I will need for her. Then I make piles of everything and check them off the list. If I’m successful, this will be accomplished without her going through everything but I’m often not successful.
Great stroller– The definition of a great stroller can be different for everyone depending on your needs. When we first got a stroller, we loved the Bob because it was sturdy enough for strolling around the neighborhood but easy enough to pack in the car and go shopping. Once we planned our first international trip, we needed something different. I did a lot of research and really wanted something very light, easy to pack up, would last for many years, would cover her from the sun, would recline, had room for storage underneath and a cup holder. There were a few that fit the bill but the one with the best reviews that I fell in love with was the G-Luxe by Uppababy. We have now had this stroller for over 2 years and I still love it! We take it everywhere with us and our daughter is comfortable enough in it that she falls asleep on the go. You should know that when we are at home, she is a picky sleeper and will only sleep in her bed. When we are traveling, she’s learned to go with the flow and sleep in her Uppababy! This is awesome for a little adult alone time during diners out.
Lots of snacks- This is very important as any person will be cranky when they are hungry. I always pack a variety of different snacks on the plane so when she is tired of eating o’s, I have crackers, an apple, puffs, or a variety of different pouches. This also comes in handy once you are at your destination. Especially when you travel international, the food is different and sometimes kids can be picky and not like the flavors or they don’t want to eat anything new. This has saved me on every single trip we’ve been on. I usually pack one small suit case filled with food and, depending on the age, diapers or pull-ups. Although my husband always thinks I’m crazy, by the end of the trip, they are all gone and in it’s place, I have plenty of room for everything I have purchased on our trip. It works brilliantly!
Toys to entertain- As I am planning a vacation, I always stop by Target or the Dollar Store to find new toys. It could be a new coloring book, a small puzzle or game, stickers or a dress up doll. Find whatever your child likes. I don’t spend a lot of money per toy as you’ll need many to keep them interested for a long flight. This is always really fun for Stella because she loves new things to play with. I always try to choose ones that work well with being on a plane. For instance, no markers, and if there are stickers involved there is a book to put them in, etc. This is also great for when you arrive and will keep them occupied and happy in the hotel room or at dinners out.
Comforts of home- I think it’s really important to bring a few of their favorite things to sleep with so that they love to sleep. Although it’s a couple other things to pack, they don’t take up much space. We always bring her pillow, a favorite blanket and her snuggle friend. (It used to be “bear” but on our last trip to St. Thomas, we lost bear. We told her he is now on his own adventure and we got her a couple of new snuggle friends and told her bear sent them to her!)
New movies or shows on iPad- Everyone has a different opinion on screen time. This is just what works for us. We aren’t big on letting Stella watch much tv or play with the iPad unless we are traveling. Therefore, it’s a really big deal and very exciting to fly in an airplane. She gets to wear her pink headphones and watch a new movie. A few days before the trip, I let her pick out a couple of things that she’s never seen and would love to watch. Our last trip it was Cinderella. She had never seen it and loves her so this was perfect. You only need a couple because they will watch them over and over again on your trip.
Harness- We use a Kids Fly Safe harness which is great for kids 22-44 pounds. Once she started traveling in her own seat, this was perfect as you don’t have to lug around a car seat. It’s very light, easy to install and she stays in her seat the entire trip.
Choose kid friendly hotels and locations – This is important so there are always fun things for the kids to do. If you plan something everyday to do just for your child on vacation that makes it really special. If you are dragging them from place to place that is adult focused, it’s no fun. Stop at a local park and push them on a swing or just find a grassy area and play a game of tag. Whatever it is that your child will love!
I’m sure there are more but these are my top tips for traveling with a toddler and having a great time! Let me know some of your tips.