8 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers
Traveling is definitely different these days with a two year old! Our recent trip to Dallas was surprisingly smoother than expected. Looking back on our trip I think a few key factors helped to keep the trip easy going and enjoyable for everyone. Here are 8 tips we found helpful for traveling with toddlers!
1. Make travel days easy: On the days we spend in the car on the way to and back from our destination, we try to stay pretty chill and not worry about the clock. With a toddler, you are going to have to stop often so they can get their energy out. It's better if you just take a whole day for travel and enjoy it, rather than being in a hurry just to arrive an hour or so earlier.
2. Bring a portable DVD player: Regardless of how you feel about screen time in the car, road trips are the one exception where a DVD player is a huge life saver! We bought a portable DVD player on our way out of town and it ended up being so helpful. Not just on the long car ride there and back, but also around town each night after dinner when our daughter was tired of being in the car. It helped prevent those meltdowns that can happen from being on the go 24/7 and living in a hotel for over a week.
3. Pack light and do laundry at hotel: The most overwhelming part of a long trip is the packing involved! I've learned it is so much less stressful to pack enough basics like pajamas, t-shirts, socks and underwear for a few days and then just wash every 3-4 days in the hotel. You always have a little downtime either in the afternoon or at night in the hotel to throw a load in. And then when you get home you have a more manageable amount of dirties and not a mountain of laundry! Just make sure to bring a stack of quarters with you, a few dryer sheets and some laundry soap. We brought a travel packet of Tide Pods with us and they worked perfectly!
4. Prepare new activities for car ride and hotel: I always bring a small bag of toys, books and activities on road trips. New items will hold the attention of your toddler longer so check Pinterest for some ideas. Then when you get to hotel, set out the activities in plain view so your toddler will feel comfortable and more at home. My daughter is really into coloring and reading right now, so I made sure to bring enough of each to keep her entertained each morning while I was getting ready.
5. Plan kid-friendly outings ahead of time: A couple weeks before our trip I start researching the most popular things to do with kids in that area. Then I make a list of each activity including entrance prices, hours of admission and any other special notes like how much parking costs. Be sure to include both indoor and outdoor activities on your list so you will have several options if the weather is unpredictable. By preparing ahead of time, I am able to take advantage of some online specials for admission and parking. Also, be sure to bring any membership cards you have for zoos and botanical gardens. Most cities will honor your membership by providing free admission or discounted rates.
6. Stick to your toddler's schedule: Even though we are on vacation, I still work around my toddler's meal times and nap times. Nothing will cause a meltdown like a hungry tot who hasn't napped! My daughter is currently napping for a couple hours in the afternoon. So on our recent trip, we just planned all of our activities in the morning and made sure to have some down time each afternoon back at the hotel. This kept everyone well rested on our busy trip!
7. Be flexible: Even though we aimed to stay on our regular schedule, there were a few nights when the schedule changed a bit. One night my daughter went down a lot later for her nap so we just stayed in the hotel that night and ordered room service. Another day she wanted to go back to hotel a little earlier than usual before lunch. I just rolled with it and we ended up having a picnic lunch in our hotel and she talked about her "picnic on the bed" for the rest of the trip! Sometimes the spontaneous, unscheduled moments make the best memories. So don't be too rigid on your trip - allow for some flexibility as everyone is adjusting to being away from home.
8. Meet up with friends: If you know anyone in the area, a playdate is a great time to have some company on your trip and to learn more about the city you are exploring. We ended up getting together three times with some friends on our last trip! Just be sure to discuss schedules ahead of time so you can maximize your time together and plan an outing that both you and your children will enjoy (especially if the children are at different ages).
I'd love to know... What are some of your tips for traveling with toddlers?