Traveling with a toddler can get complicated. They still need a way to get around that isn’t their own two feet, and there is diapering to consider, not to mention that toddlers are not rational when it comes to waiting for food. Because we love to travel as a family and want it to be fun for everyone, we’ve figured out ways to simplify things so that we aren’t always scrambling and stressed out. Here are the top five ways we have simplified things for travel with our toddler.
First, if at all possible, we do not bring our car seat along if we are flying to our destination. When we are traveling to visit friends or family, we ask to borrow one at our destination. On vacation, we choose accommodations that allowed us to get to and from our daily destinations by walking or taking public transportation. That way, Elvie could be in her stroller while in transit. Most buses and other public transit had special places to park strollers so it was safe and convenient. Not having to haul our car seat to all of our destinations has made it possible to get in and out of the airport easily. In some cities, you can hire taxis or car services that provide appropriate car seats for children, so if public transportation is not your thing, you still have options.
Second, we take an umbrella stroller that is a few steps above basic. We chose a stroller that is lightweight, has a carry strap, and has a basket underneath for storage. I made sure it was sturdy enough to hang a diaper bag or backpack from the handles, as well as drape jackets and other items over it as my children shed them when days get warmer. When flying, we take the stroller with us to the gate, then can collect it as we exit the plane. This makes it much easier to get all our stuff to and from the plane without having to juggle it and our toddler the whole way through the airport.
Third, we map out stroller friendly routes ahead of time and have a plan for when stairs are the only option. Most cities have ramps and elevators available; you just need to know where they are and how to use them, as well as decide if it is worth it to go out of your way for those or if you’d rather just use the stair plan. I found that if we planned ahead, it removed a lot of stress that can occur when we are trying to get somewhere with our stroller and have to figure out a suitable route on the fly.
Fourth, we pack so that we can easily find what we need for the kids. Outfits and pajamas are packed complete sets and in order, near the top of the suitcase, and all the kids toiletries are in one waterproof bag near the rest of their stuff. Diapering supplies are kept together in a carryon so they’re easier to grab whether diapering in the hotel or in transit. Digging through a suitcase to find bedtime necessities when kids are melting down is no fun, and I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. Now I can pull out the kid stuff, put it on a shelf where I can grab it easily, and if I need to dig through the suitcase for something of mine, I can do it at my leisure once my children are asleep.
Fifth, we take favorite snacks to tide our toddler over – or to provide a distraction – when we can’t get find a family friendly meal immediately. We try to keep it healthy, but if what will keep my toddler from having a meltdown while we’re on our way to dinner is a chocolate chip cookie, then that’s okay. Travel life is not like everyday life, and we can make exceptions to keep everyone comfortable.
While traveling with a toddler does present some challenges, we’ve found that when we simplify as much as possible, we can enjoy our time together as a family and get to our destination without fuss. Without extra worries, we can focus on the magical moments that occur, whether they be when our kids see their cousins on a family trip or when we first spy the sea on vacation.