Traveling with a child is one of the best life experiences ever. It is one thing to see a particular side of the world for the first time but it’s even more fascinating to see it through the eyes of a child. I remember every ooh and ahh Rae let her little lips escape. Her eyes wide in wonder and amazement as she explored all the places we saw. She also has a fascination for trains and our trip had a lot of tram rides and one long inter-EU train ride from Prague to Vienna.
Here are my top tips according to my experience:
1. First and foremost, this has to be emphasized: MANAGE EXPECTATIONS. This is the best advice I can give you when traveling with a toddler or little kids, in general. Let go of your being a control freak when it comes to following every single bit of your itinerary at a certain period of time. Prepare yourself that you won’t be able to see all that you want to see or spend several hours in museums. Prepare to get tired, to manage tantrums when your child is restless and just let loose. Rae doesn’t throw tantrums for her age but she does get cranky when she’s tired and hungry (don’t we all?). Manage your expectations for the trip and you will survive and have fun. Toddlers can be a handful when traveling, which is why you should be prepared and lower your expectations for it. Most of all, your toddler will too!
2. Book a flight that coincides with bedtime so that your toddler will sleep through the night. If you have this option, red eye flights are the best. Both you and your toddler can sleep through the most of it and will get off the flight well rested.
3. Wear comfy clothes and dress your toddler the same. Comfy clothes make comfy travelers. Sometimes I even dress Rae down in her jammies or a sleep suit so that she could relate her sleepwear to bedtime.
3. Prepare snacks, lots of it. I put together a snack box for Rae because she’s always hungry. The huge pillbox snack box hack will cover your toddler’s plane/train/car snacking needs or anywhere else on the move.
5. Prepare one to three busy bags. Busy bags are wonderful packs of fun. You’ll find my tips on how to make them here. I had three busy bags on hand ready to entertain a bored/restless toddler when needed.
6. Bring an iPad if you have one. I hide the iPad from Rae at home (she’s not allowed except when I truly need to keep my sanity!) but this holiday was an exception. We needed all the Plan Bs we need to entertain her.
7. Bring extra clothes. I packed a lot of extra clothes in her diaper bag because toddlers are cute but they are also messy. With this trip I was so thankful for extras because there were instances wherein she threw up because of our airport transfer driver’s crazy driving. We ended up running towards the restroom once at Schiphol before flying to Prague. I had to wash her, scrub her shirt and jacket at the sink. Thank goodness for my small bottle of liquid soap. So…
8. Always bring a travel sized bottle of liquid soap! For mishaps, I don’t want to rely on public restrooms’ soap dispensers.
9. If you’re breastfeeding, don’t forget a nursing cover. Mine was used and abused. Sure I can use a jacket but I ended up freezing outdoors in Paris when I had to feed Rae on a bench at Tour Eiffel! We love our nursing apron with a collar bone because it’s airy, I can still see her and it provides a lot of coverage for me. Plus, when she’s done nursing and has fallen asleep I use the cover as a blanket.
10. Let your toddler follow her nap time routine. I let Rae sleep when she was sleepy and because we are still breastfeeding exclusively, I also nursed her as much as I can if need be. Allowing your toddler to nap whenever it’s needed lets them rest so that they can recover from wandering around and having too much fun. For this reason…
11. Book a hotel that’s in the area where you will be exploring the most. We always book a hotel that’s near the places we are going to visit. This way it’s easier and takes less time to get to when we need a mid day break so that Rae can take a nap or just rest for a few hours before we are off again.
12. Scout for a mini mart or store nearby so you can replenish snacks and water (or drinks like milk!). Rae loves snacking and she also loves fresh milk so I made sure we knew where to find stores to replenish our stash.
13. Play games, watch airplanes, people or bring out your crayons during layovers. There was a time when our flight from Vienna to Paris was cancelled so we were bumped to another flight with a stopover in Frankfurt, thus prolonging our wait at the airport. We played games, watched airplanes, played guess the color game (Rae loves it) and played with her stickers until she got tired. I was so thankful for her busy bags and our ability to make use of our environment because this way we were able to entertain ourselves and minimize toddler impatience during the wait.
14. Bring a water bottle everywhere you go. Toddlers are notoriously thirsty all the time. Rae loves drinking water, fresh milk or juice. I bring a Swell bottle with me, it’s aluminum so it’s BPA free and it keeps beverage cool for a long time. I refill it whenever I can. You have to empty your bottle before going to the airport to avoid security checks and hassle.
15. Use a lightweight, compact and cabin friendly travel stroller. We love our Babyzen Yoyo+. It’s our only stroller we have. I made sure that the stroller we were going to use was lightweight, easy to fold even when alone with baby and travel friendly. The Babyzen is also comfy enough for our toddler to nap during daytimes while we were out and about.
So really, there are no excuses why you shouldn’t travel and see the world with your tot in tow. It is exhausting, not going to lie. And you could accomplish so much more without a toddler but what is an adventure without your little one? Enjoy!
If you have more tips to add I’d be happy to hear about them by commenting below.