Many parents with toddlers choose to forgo traveling altogether because “why would you put yourself through all the challenges involved?”. And so, they choose to take their next vacation when their kid is finally old enough to not ruin the entire trip or make the plane smell like poop for the next two hours. However, that doesn’t have to be the case, even if you think that you have the wildest and most hyperactive toddler out there.
Some parents are blessed to have generally behaved toddlers, but others, not so much. If your toddler seems to have an unlimited amount of energy and zero sense of self-preservation, here’s how to make your next trip feel like a real vacation:
1. Use a safety harness
If you have never used a safety leash, harness, or backpack tether with your toddler, consider using one when you’re traveling. It’s so easy for a small child to get lost in unfamiliar places, especially for toddlers who tend to run off from their parents. And while you may be the most careful parent out there, taking your eyes off your child for even ten seconds can be enough to lose them in the crowd.
Even if you aren’t a fan of toddler leashes or harnesses, there’s no denying the extra level of safety they provide while traveling. Consider using one on your next trip so that while you’re shopping at the famous Changi Airport or taking a walking tour of an alley at your next travel destination, you won’t worry that your toddler would be lost.
2. Always keep sanitizing wipes handy
Toddlers have no sense of hygiene. They will touch anything and everything that they deem interesting enough, including dirty floors, seats, toilets, doorknobs, and even garbage. That said, you have to always be prepared with an XL pack of sanitizing wipes to keep your toddler’s hands as clean as they can be, especially while on the go when you have no access to a sink.
3. Depart in the early mornings
Early morning flights tend to experience fewer delays in take-off and landing. They are also usually less crowded, and everyone is more than ready to take a nap, including your kid.
Moreover, if you have a menace of a toddler that may disturb other travelers, traveling in the early morning can reduce that risk because there are fewer travelers on board, and more importantly, your toddler is asleep.
4. Entertain and tire out
The key to avoiding meltdowns while traveling is to have lots of back-up entertainment and know when your toddler needs to expend some energy. Rambunctious toddlers, in particular, need a good amount of entertainment to distract them from the urge to kick the seat in front of them or run up and down the aisle. Aside from that, they need to release some energy from time to time to avoid getting too antsy and eventually throwing a tantrum.
Don’t leave the house without an arsenal of toys, books, comfort items, and (unless you’re a no-screen parent) the tablet. While you’re on the flight, waiting at the airport, or just generally stuck sitting somewhere for quite some time, take your toddler for a walk to keep them entertained and tire them out a bit.
5. Pack favorite foods
Getting your toddler to eat unfamiliar food while traveling can be a futile battle that will just end up stressing everyone out. Even the foods that they are familiar with may “taste different” than what they’re used to, and if you have a picky eater, getting them to try other foods will likely not be a better attempt.
To keep your toddler fed and happy without forcing them to try unfamiliar foods, pack their favorite meals and snacks. Alternatively, go grocery shopping at your destination to decrease your baggage load.
6. Use pull-ups
Even if your toddler is already potty-trained, pull-ups help avoid accidents when your child has to go and there is no bathroom in sight.
7. Pack extra outfits
Well-behaved toddlers may need just one extra outfit in case they have an incident at the dinner table, but toddlers who are more energetic are a whole different story. If your toddler is the type of child who rolls around in the dirt, jump into puddles, and insist on holding a cup full of soda by themselves, you might want to pack two extra outfits, or three.
Traveling with a small child is never a walk in the park, but with these strategies, you can make the experience less of a hassle for everyone. Better yet, you can make your vacation feel like a real one instead of it just seeming like you’re parenting in a different place.