Where are my fellow toddler Mamas? Today this one is for you!
Moms you and I both know it can be challenging to go to Target with a toddler much less plan a vacation with one, but I am here to say it can be done! With a little pre-planning and preparation you can turn your toddler into your mini travel companion and get jet setting with them in tow!
Today I'm sharing 8 tips to traveling with a toddler that have made our own trips so much smoother!
1 - Bring SNACKS
Seriously. Can't stress this enough. Toddlers get hungry. And then hangry. Really fast. So bring snacks and use them generously as bribes, threads, and (from time to time) actual snacks. But have them on you at all times.
2 - Tell them what's happening
So this one might be a bit more particular to my toddler, but I've found that he's much calmer if I tell him what's about to happen. So I tell him "we're going to wait in a long line and then we are going to get on a ship!" or "we are going to drive for a while. Get comfortable. But then we are going to get on an airplane!" I try to give them a positive ending, so that they can "suffer" through the bad parts, knowing that a good part is coming.
3 - Give them choices
Okay, maybe not BIG choices...but toddlers like to feel independent. So ask them "do you want to carry Elmo or do you want him in your suitcase?" or "do you want me to carry you or do you want in your stroller?" Notice that the only choices I gave were choices that I would be happy with. If your toddler (like mine) would run out in traffic if you didn't have a hand on them at all times, then for Heaven's sake do NOT offer to let them walk. You might still have some tantrums, they're toddlers after all - but at least you are trying to give them some control. And believe it or not, it usually works.
4 - Be flexible
These little people are really overwhelmed by all that's going on around them. And they all react differently. Sometimes they're scared and cry. Sometimes, like my son, they get super wound up and hyper. So if you don't usually lay down in their bed with them to go to sleep, but they seem to want it on vacation...just do it. Or if you never, ever allow screen time, perhaps save up a game on your phone for the long airplane flight. Our son gets a wee bit more juice on vacations, just to smooth the transitions.
5 - Laugh it off
Like I mentioned above, they're toddlers. They're still going to tantrum, it's just life. So laugh it off, take pictures, and know that tomorrow is a better day. And unless they're in physical danger or you're in a super fancy restaurant, don't stress about it. Parents suffer through tantrums all over the world - and sympathetic nods and smiles translate throughout all languages.
6 - Bring a change of clothes
7 - Zone defense
Now, this one is more for the families who still equal or outnumber their children. Those of you with 3+ kids? Well, I don't even know how you do it on a day-to-day basis, so I got no travel advice on that one. But for the rest of you - run a zone defense. In order words, take turns. One of you take the little one(s) for a walk on the beach and let your significant other actually read a book by the pool. It might only be for 30 minutes, but it will feel like Heaven. Or better yet, go on a trip with another family and rotate to give each other Girls' Nights, Guys' Nights, and a Date Night for each couple. We did that recently and it worked great!
8 - Kids Clubs
Perhaps the most valuable of all of this list....look into places with kids' clubs. Trust me. Yes, you want to show your children the world and you (of course) want to spend time with them.... but you may actually want to have a drink/take a nap/talk to your partner during your vacation. So utilize the kids' club! More and more hotels, resorts, and cruises offer this perk and it's amazing. Sometimes fee-based, oftentimes free, you can drop off the kiddos and know that they're having the time of their lives as well. Our two year old didn't want to leave a recent kid's club, since it was full of new toys he hadn't had long enough to play with. When your kids are older, you can have that dream vacation backpacking through Europe...but for now, resorts with kids' clubs (and for added perks, yummy cocktails) are key.
What other tips do you have for traveling with a toddler? Have any of these worked for you in the past? Seriously, help a Mama out!