Parenthood: Tips for Travelling with a Toddler
Travelling around Ireland and the world beyond these beautiful shores has always been a priority for Patrick and I. Travel broadens the mind and the spirit, and as Mark Twain put it “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” But inspirational quotes aside, travelling is fun, it’s interesting and nowadays once you’ve caught the travelling bug it’s easy to feed it with travel love. The more you travel the smaller the world feels and at times it’s as easy to get from one country to the next as it is to get from one county in Ireland to the next, and sometimes it’s cheaper and quicker!
When chill.ie recently got in touch about a collaborative post regarding my love of travel, I decided that a post on my top ‘tips for travelling with a toddler’ is the way to go. You see although Patrick and my priorities have changed since becoming parents, our love for travelling has not wavered. Travelling with our little one makes the adventure even more special and memorable.
My Top Tips for Travelling with a Toddler
Travelling with a toddler is very different from travelling with a baby, believe me. Travelling with a baby is a piece of cake. Keep them fed, watered and entertained and you’re laughing all the way to your destination. Well, that has been our experience anyway but every child is different.
Travelling with a toddler can be a little more, how shall I put it, energetic. By now your little one is most likely walking, if not running, talking, if not shouting. They are little but many have big personalities. They test the water, test your reaction and most have no fear. Over all they are at an amazingly funny, serious, happy, sad, shy and adventurous stage, and we love them for it. That goes without saying.
If I had to give one over all tip on travelling with a toddler I would say this: Preparation is key! Or even better, as Benjamin Franklin puts it “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
The first step you need to take is to think out your day of travel ahead, stage-by-stage, whether it’ll be via ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’. Putting yourself in each stage with your little one will give you the insight on how to be prepared. Think about being proactive, rather than reactive.
Pack your little one’s suitcase/bag with all the essentials they will need for your trip away. Casual clothes for the day-time, dressy clothes for dinner in the evening. PJ’s or sleep-suits for night-time. Vests if needed, swimwear, nappies, nappy bags, toothbrush, creams and lotions, soothers if used and teething products because you never know when a tooth will strike. Remember their favourite teddy and a few books for bedtime reading. It’s important to keep with a bedtime routine even when you’re away from home. Pack favourite snacks and a bottle of water.
The daytime / carry-on bag is essential to travelling with toddler. Be sure to pack a change of clothes or two, a blanket, spare soothers, nappies and nappy bags, favourite snacks that aren’t too messy and water. In this bag also pack a couple of books and a favourite toy.
For the actual travelling stage, if travelling in a car, talking, singing songs and playing ‘eye spy’ will work for a time. Books and favourite toys that don’t present any danger to your little one are also perfect for keeping them occupied. Be aware of travel sickness, when to open a window for fresh air and when to stop the car. The watery mouth facial expression is always a giveaway.
Pack a stroller or buggy, little legs get tired. If travelling by plane you can bring the stroller right up to the departure gates and it will be stored on board for you.
Pack a sling if you use one.
If travelling on a plane or train, the aforementioned will work for a while but the entertainment factor will wear off quicker as your child will not be restrained by a car seat and therefore ‘freedom’ beckons. So other than talking and taking little walks, having access to their favourite show downloaded onto your tablet or phone is the way to go. You can also download free kiddie apps that have songs, games and stories. Make sure you test run the apps before they’re needed, and make sure they can be used when offline.
Change your toddlers nappy whenever possible. Not only are you keeping them dry and free from agitation but also the attentiveness will keep them grounded. So to speak.
Talking to your toddler and explaining every step of your travelling adventure is an important tip you should always remember. Try and give yourself enough travel time so that you’re not dashing about like a headless chicken. Travel at a leisurely pace if you can. Tell your little one what you’re doing, where you’re going and what they are seeing each step of the way. The action around them should keep them entertained and provide lots of dreamtime later that night.
Finally enjoy the experience and take lots of photos. To be able to share the gift of travel with your little one is second to none. However they probably won’t remember a thing, so try capture those moments for when they’re older and complaining that they’re not allowed out.