toddler travel tips

10 Essential Toddler Travel Tips For a Stress-Free Vacation

10 Essential Toddler Travel Tips For a Stress-Free Vacation

The summer is coming up fast and if you are like us we are planning some trips to take.

Taking a plane or traveling anywhere when my son was a toddler used to fill me with dread. Trying to keep him still in a tiny plane seat when he's used to running and jumping the entire day (pausing only to sleep!)

This was one of the main reasons I began So Handmade. Coming from the UK we would take long trips every summer to visit my family and this travel time took more planning and prepping then the entire rest of the trip!

I came up with some toddler travel tips based off my experiences and thought these might be helpful to others with similarly active toddlers! Whether you are going in the car just a couple of hours or taking a plane ride these should help!

Travel Tips: Keeping Them Entertained in Their Car Seats

car play mat on a Childs lap in a car seat

Essential travel tips for car seats and more for you and your toddler

Let’s dive into the essential toddler travel tips that will help you have a stress-free family vacation. These tips cover everything from planning and preparation to dealing with unexpected challenges. Let’s get started!

  1. Pack lots of favorite snacks. Preferably healthy like small packets of nuts, meat and cheese sticks, raisins and other finger food that doesn’t require cutlery and is mess free. Even if you pay extra for the inflight meals the kids might be asleep or not ready to eat depending on the time zone so pack extra in case. Also remember empty reusable water bottles and a sippy cup you can fill up once though security. Packing a well-stocked diaper bag is crucial for carrying all your toddler essentials, from diapers to snacks.

  2. Change of clothes for the kids and also YOU! Yes we learnt this the hard way after a particularly bumpy flight which my husband took the brunt of! Planning your travel times around your toddler's nap schedule can help maintain their routine and reduce fussiness.

  3. Empty plastic bags (for said dirty clothes and trash)

  4. If your kids are old enough bring their own headphones to enable them to watch the inflight entertainment. I like to keep a balance of screen time with play time and bring some engaging travel toys to keep them entertained.

  5. Sticker books are my personal favorite for flights, easy to pack and can keep them happy for hours. My daughter loved this one from amazon.

  6. My kids also loves these water books from Melissa and Doug. Just fill the pen with water and the painttoy car storage on a plane

  1. To keep your toddler entertained remember to pack some travel toys. For children who love cars my own fabric play mats are perfect to stow away in a carry on and bring with you. My toy car storage (above) is perfect to carry cars and also to use as a race track. I also have a train play mat, a construction play mat and even a dinosaur one! These are also great for when you get to your hotel room or out to dinner on your vacation.

  2. Remember those games we all used to play as kids on road trips- eye spy, i have an animal in my head etc. Introduce them to your kids

  3. Download some audiobooks and listen to them together in the car. We loved Raoul Dahls Matilda and Harry Potter

  4. If you have a long lay over google the airport before you travel and suss out any playgrounds or other children’s areas within the airport first. We once found one by accident on one trip and it was a godsend to have somewhere to run around and not trip up other passengers.

  5. It goes without saying but pack a little self care kit for yourself, wipes, toothbrush, change of top, your favorite snack in your carry on. Anything that will lift your spirits and make you feel a little more human after a long flight. Travel pillows and eye masks are a must for me. Having sleeping children draped over you can be very uncomfortable. Try and make yourself as comfy as possible for a long probably sleepless night.

Maintaining routines and schedules while traveling

Toddlers thrive on routine, so try to maintain some semblance of their regular schedule even while traveling. Here are some tips:

  • Stick to mealtimes: Try to stick to your toddler’s regular meal and snack times as much as possible. This will help them feel more secure and prevent hunger-induced meltdowns.

  • Maintain sleep routines: If your toddler has a bedtime or nap time routine at home, try to replicate it while traveling. Try and coordinate flight times with their sleep schedule. Bring familiar items like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal to create a sense of familiarity and comfort. To help toddlers fall asleep in unfamiliar environments, consider using portable white noise machines.

  • Allow for downtime: Toddlers can easily become overwhelmed by new environments and stimuli. Allow for breaks and downtime to recharge and prevent overstimulation.

Toddler Travel Tips for Long Haul Flights, Trains and Automobiles

Going through airport security with a toddler can be daunting, but being prepared can make the process smoother. Inform TSA officers about any toddler-related food and liquids, as there are specific allowances for carrying these items through checkpoints. This preparation helps ensure a stress-free experience for both you and your family.

road tape on tray table
Our Road Tape Used on A Plane Tray Table

Traveling with a toddler may require some extra planning and preparation, but it’s well worth the effort. For toddlers who are potty trained, consider using pull-ups during the plane ride, especially for recently trained toddlers, to avoid any accidents.

When booking long flights, it's beneficial to consider your toddler's need to have their own seat and possibly use a car seat, which keeps them contained and safe. Having a toddler sit on you for the entirety of an overnight flight can be very uncomfortable! Interacting with the flight attendant can provide valuable tips on making the flight more comfortable for your toddler and considerate of fellow passengers.

By following these essential toddler travel tips, you can ensure an stress-free family vacation and create unforgettable memories with your little one.

Remember to research toddler-friendly destinations, pack your toddler gear efficiently, and provide engaging entertainment during the journey. Maintain routines and schedules while allowing for flexibility, and be prepared to handle unexpected challenges with calmness and resourcefulness.

So, pack your bags and embark on your next family adventure with confidence. With these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the joys and challenges of traveling with a toddler. To minimize the time your toddler has to sit still, consider waiting until the last minute to board the plane. Bon voyage!

I hope that’s been helpful and wishing you all the luck in the world for a smooth and stress-free trip.

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Traveling With Toddlers

So handmade range of travel toys are ideal companions for your travels, dining outings, or visits to Grandma's house.

Active toddlers and preschoolers often have abundant energy to expend while waiting at restaurants, during flights, or car rides. Being on the move shouldn't hinder their enjoyment of imaginative play!

The idea is straightforward: provide children with tangible toys suitable for play anywhere, ensuring they're portable and easy to manage.

Offering handmade toys as an option empowers kids to unleash their creativity, filling in colors and sounds against the canvas of a simple roadmap.