Making a journey across town to get groceries with a toddler takes equal amounts of patience, distractions and indulging in your secret stash of chocolate, which happens to be on the shopping list. When you think about going on summer vacation, you’re not sure how you’ll manage without a truckload of chocolate.
Taking your toddler across the state, country or to see the world is an exciting and terrifying feat. You’ll probably listen to the same songs on repeat and deal with all the fussing. You’ll also see their eyes open wider at the beautiful and inspiring world around them as you indulge them in new experiences. These tips will make traveling with a toddler this summer easier.
Sanitize for Your Sanity
Depending on where in the world you are, Carmen Sandiego, you’ll need sanitizing wipes to make your baby’s getaway from germs quick. All sorts of strange and mysterious objects find their way to toddlers’ mouths. Keep those wipes handy.
Vaccinations and Flights Don’t Mix
If you want a truly memorable vacation, book your flight and your toddler’s vaccination close together. You’ll enjoy the lovely in-air perks of exploding diapers, rashes and fevers while your child wails and tries to deal with their phobia of flying.
Not your cup of tea? Book your toddler’s vaccination more than a week out from your trip. Vaccinations and flights don’t mix.
Tackle Flight Phobia in Advance
News about tragic flight crashes places anyone on edge when it comes to flying, and both adults and children fear getting on planes. Tackle flight phobia in advance through the power of education with your child.
Tell them that flying is safer than being inside a car, and they do that all the time with you. Flying is 200 times safer than driving a car to a destination. Ask your child open-ended questions about their fear to help them discover the source of their discomfort. Take them to see a plane beforehand, and teach them about the engine and other cool facts. Sirens likely frightened your child at first, but now, they understand the loud noises are to let others know that help is on the way.
Extra Outfits Are Mandatory
With past travel, extra outfits took up room in your carry-on. Now, extra outfits are mandatory. Pack them or suffer the consequences of your toddler’s very fashionable shredded and spaghetti-stained shirt and vomit-toned shorts.
Toddlers are in constant search-and-destroy-clothing mode, so be on guard. Pack extra clothes, and spread a blanket over your lap to prevent the need for two quick changes.
Ask Endless Questions and Negotiate
Take a leaf from your toddler’s notebook and ask endless questions to negotiate your seating arrangement. Having an open seat next to you will save everyone’s sanity and give you more space to spread out.
Dare to ask every flight attendant and gate agent you encounter to shift folks around. Be that parent!
Make a Mom Med Kit
This first-aid travel pack is a two-for-one special, with medical supplies for the adults and kids. Make a mom med kit to pack with your carry-on.
Don’t forget a list of all prescriptions for your family, along with copies of your insurance. Pack baby aspirin and adult aspirin, along with lip protection and sunscreen. Carry the usual Band-Aids, bandages, wipes and ointments. Back up your backups for more severe medical concerns.
Snacks Are the Ultimate Distraction
Fill your toddler’s mouth with snacks, and your trip will be blissful. Games, storybooks and toys provide some relief, but snacking is also part of self-soothing. Pack plenty of healthy and varied snacks to keep your child’s picky palate happy, such as crackers, fruits, vegetable sticks and pouches. Food pouches are spill-proof miracles.
You can take as much food as reasonable on flights, which is as much as your child would eat normally. You need to inform the TSA agents because they will separate these items in advance for screening and save everyone more time. Applesauce does count as a liquid, since you can spread and smear it. Pack frozen gel packs to preserve homemade food.
Prepare for Ear Discomfort
Reaching new heights makes ears pop, and ear discomfort can feel strange or frightening for a toddler. If their jaws are active, ear discomfort feels minimal — if only by distraction. Keep your toddler talking or occupied with food or a pacifier. Children’s ibuprofen a half hour before the trip also calms discomfort.
Wear Them Out
Before getting on the plane, let your partner get the carry-ons aboard while you burn off energy with your toddler by the gate. If you’re on the flight and your child gets antsy, walk down the aisle with them or to the plane galley. If traveling by car, bring a Frisbee or stop by a park to let them run around. Wear them out, and maintain some activity to keep the trip interesting.
Most days, getting across town with your toddler is an adventure, but seeing the world with a mostly stain-free child and your sanity intact is possible. Pack extra outfits and snacks, and answer any questions they have. Don’t forget to sneak extra chocolate in your carry-on. Just don’t show your toddler.