Looking back, travelling with a baby was a piece of cake compared to travelling with a toddler. Babies aren’t mobile, babies don’t need constant snacks and entertainment, babies aren’t newly potty trained. Toddlers are a whole new ball game.
The most important thing to survive travelling with a toddler is still the same, you have to be prepared.
I have lots of travel friendly activities for toddlers in my Etsy Shop. Below is one of the many Airplane Tray Covers which also fits over a cookie sheet for your child to play with while in the car. If they want a change you can also bring some magnets for them to stick on the cookie sheet but that works better if someone is sitting next to them as they can drop the magnets and you won’t be able to reach them while you’re driving.
I also sell Felt boards which are light and easy to carry and fit perfectly on a child’s lap!
I always pack easy snacks like Fruit To Gos to pass back to my son in the car. We have a few Children’s Cds handy which is his favourite, insisting that everyone sings and dances…again and again and again. We play a simple version of I Spy, pointing out all the cool tractors and trucks we see, different birds and animals…dogs going for a walk, squirrels, etc. We talk about when the light is red it means stop and green means go. I find that as long as my son is getting attention he is happy in the car.
For really long car rides, I have found that it’s best to drive through the night. If your child is potty trained but still wearing diapers then it’s not an issue because they normally associate wearing pyjamas with a diaper and you don’t have to worry about accidents or stopping every half hour! We drove 1300kms when our son was 22 months old, we left just before supper, had a late dinner on the road and then he passed out and slept the rest of the way. When we stopped for gas, bathroom breaks and to let our dogs out he did wake up and was disoriented and upset but it didn’t take long for him to calm down and fall back asleep.
If your child is potty training, no matter what distance you travel, I found this great idea on Pinterest, I just picked up the fabric to make it so I will let you know how it goes in a later post! We had a bad day of potty training last week, he soaked the water proof mat I normally fold into his car seat and then had another accident on the way home. It was not fun taking everything apart, hand washing the cover and air drying it in time to go out the next morning. This Piddle Paddle will be a life saver!
Before you board, no strollers, you need to burn off your child’s energy the best you can. If you’re not travelling alone, one of you take care of your things while the other follows your toddler around. If there’s space, let them run. Watch planes take off, find a kid’s play area. You are about to expect them to sit still for at least an hour which never goes down well with a toddler so you need to help tire them out the best they can. It’s also great if you’re able to book your flight around their nap time but that’s not always possible for long haul flights. If you are travelling alone, pack your stroller with your belongings, park it where you can keep an eye on it and let your child run around!
Your child is mobile and does not want to sit on your lap. If they’re still under 2 and you chose the free option of sharing a seat with them you will have to convince them to sit still….a.k.a. bribe and distract! Really it’s awful to bribe children because they will only manipulate it and up the ante, what I mean is make it worth while for them to stay. Some ideas…
I see loads of cool ideas of what people take for their toddlers to play with on a plane but be mindful, seats are crowded together and your toddler will drop things. You do not want to bring a bunch of activities with little pieces that you are constantly crouched on the floor trying to find.
A cool idea I found that worked was buy a Weekly Pill Container and fill it with different snacks, depending on your child’s age and fine motor skills they can open the individual compartments or point to the one they want opened. They take a piece out, you close it again and it spreads out the snack!
Again, be aware of Bathroom locations, if you’re changing diapers, know which bathroom has a change table and ask flight attendant for a few baggies. My last flight, the only bathroom with a change table was out of order and I had to change my toddler’s diaper on the floor at the front of the plane, not fun! But we survived.
If you missed it, be sure to check out my post on Surviving Travel with a Baby!