If you are preparing to travel for the holidays, or if you are thinking of taking a family vacation in the next year, you may be wondering how to make that happen with small children in the mix. And it’s true that traveling with a toddler makes your planning more complicated. At the same time, with some simple preparations, your trip doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are six tips to help you as you prepare for a fun and memorable time with your family.
Keep as Close to Your Normal Schedule as Possible
Obviously, traveling will change the way your family operates from day to day. Mealtimes, naptimes, sleeping arrangements, and other regularities will need to be flexible. That said, it is wise to keep as much of your toddler’s day the same as possible. Bring familiar items from home, such as cups, pillows, and blankets, to ease the transition to your destination. Be prepared to take breaks from activities to regroup and allow your child some downtime. Being away from home can be very confusing and anxiety-inducing for young children, even as they are having fun and enjoying family time.
Know Your Destination
Much of your packing and preparation depends on your destination. If you are traveling to see family or friends with small children, that may relieve some of your burden. It is important to think through the items you use on a daily basis and consider if you need to bring them. While some destinations may provide items like booster seats, bathroom step stools, strollers, bath toys, and other child-specific items, many will not. Several weeks before you travel, begin making a list of items you need to maintain your regular schedule. Then, confirm with your hosts what will be available so you can create your packing list.
Pack Minimums and Shop When You Arrive
If at all possible, plan to pack the minimum of consumable items (snacks, diapers or pull-ups, etc.) and pick up the amount you will need once you arrive at your destination. This allows you to pack lighter and makes your packing list shorter. It is likely, unless you are traveling to a remote or international destination, that you will find exactly the items you need within a very short distance of your accommodations.
You Can’t Do Everything
A good reminder for families traveling with toddlers or other small children is this: it’s okay not to do it all. Small kids have lots of needs throughout the day, and that means keeping a balance between having exciting experiences and making space for relaxing, recovering, and being together. If you make a point to stay flexible and prioritize activities that you are most looking forward to, your trip will be an easier and better experience for everyone.
Traveling with a Toddler Will Include Some Unhappiness
It’s easy to build up expectations in our minds when it comes to trips. But imagining that your trip will go smoothly and that everyone will behave perfectly is sure to end in disappointment. Instead of creating unreachable expectations, it helps to realize that at some point in your trip, your toddler will struggle. The stress of travel combined with the anxiety of new experiences will lead to unhappiness or misbehavior. And that is ok! When you are prepared, you will respond to your child’s difficulty with grace and it will pass.
Traveling With a Toddler Can Be Fun
As much work as it can be to travel with small children, traveling with your family can be a lot of fun. If you remain flexible and keep appropriate expectations, you will make memories that your children will love for years. Granted, a trip with your young family will not be the vacations you may remember from your younger days. But it will still be full of joy, fun, and excitement.
When in the car don’t forget about a child-friendly podcast, we have some ideas for that here.
Family travel is a wonderful way to experience new things and visit extended family during the holidays. With some simple preparations before you go, traveling with a toddler will be easier than you could’ve imagined. Are you looking for childcare that will encourage your child to be flexible and adapt to new situations? Consider Legacy Academy, where we encourage children to be the best version of themselves.