Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Keeping Your Sanity

With daily life being so full and crazy at times we need those occasional breaks.  I love my life and feel so very blessed for my life.  I couldn’t imagine a day going by without seeing my children smile, giving them hugs and kisses and those early morning cuddles.  I don’t want a break from them but I could use a few days away from the never-ending laundry, sinks of dishes and always thinking of the next meal.  That, I could take a break from!

I am not alone in dreaming of having a few days of peaceful escape, that is why we savor those precious moments of our family vacations!  Yes, the planning and packing and traveling, they can all be a bit stressful but the moment you board that plane or put the car into drive to start your journey, there is that spark of excitement.  The days, weeks and months of planning are finally happening!

Once you become a parent then that excitement is amplified times ten.  Traveling with children can present its challenges but sharing in their excitement is worth each and every moment of planning or road bump along the way!   We have traveled by car half way across the country with two toddlers twice.  I have flown by myself with my two little ones twice across the country as well.  Planning and preparing was truly the key to actually enjoying our vacations!

With a short road trip in order next month traveling to Branson, Missouri to stay at the Castle Rock Resort and to visit some of the Branson attractions including the Hollywood Wax Museum, I thought I would share some of my tips for traveling with toddlers.


Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

  1. Try to start early and expect delays.  When growing up, my parents would usually start our road trips off at 3am and I never completely got it, but I sure do now!  When you start in the wee hours of the morning, the children are able to sleep while you get those first few hours of driving behind you.  Don’t plan a marathon if you can help it.  If your children are not used to being in the car, don’t plan to drive 18 hours in a single day.  Try to break up the drive so that it is fun for both the children and Mom and Dad.
  2. Keep your children’s favorite snacks on hand.  It is amazing just how much a favorite snack can help to keep a tired toddler a bay.  Also make sure you pack plenty of bottled water and a few favorite drinks of choice.
  3. Pack toys that will keep your child engaged.  Depending on how you will be traveling will determine how much you can pack but make well thought out choices of toys and books to bring along.  Adding in a few favorites with a few new toys or books can help to keep your little one happy, just don’t give them to them all at once.  On our trip last summer when we were traveling from Arkansas to Florida I created a package with new books, activities I had put together and a few interactive toys that I allowed the children to choose from about every hour.  This kept them excited and engaged as they were getting something new, often.
  4. Bring electronics and headphones.  If you are bringing electronics, pack a set (or two) of kid-friendly headphones.  Whether traveling by plane or car, the third time through Barney, The Wonder Pets or when you reach the 10th episode of Dora the Explorer you will be so happy you brought them along!  Even if you don’t let your children watch much television, traveling is a time I make an exception and it is worth it!
  5. Plan your days with your children in mind.  Any parent will tell you, once a child is exhausted the tantrums magnify.  Try to avoid the extra melt downs by not over planning.  Some of us like to pack in as much as we can when we vacation but don’t forget that children are used to routines.  Plan for down time and maybe even squeeze in a nap or two; you may really enjoy it yourself!
  6. Embrace as much routine as possible!  Whether it be your child’s favorite pajamas, blanket or bed time buddy, bring what you can to make night-time as easy as possible.  Being in a new place can present  challenges for children to peacefully go to sleep, try to make that transition as easy as you can by bringing as many familiar things with you.
  7. Pack a sickness kit.  Okay, so you may not want to go there on vacation but *if* it happens, you will be so happy you did!  We have dealt with ear infections, sour tummies and sinus issues.  Being prepared for the little things that can happen will make it much easier to deal with in the middle of the night.
  8. Remember to be kind.  Traveling can be stressful and even fun trips can be quite overwhelming.  At the end of the day, we take our vacations to relax, re-energize and make memories.  The bed times may be non-existent, you may allow them to eat more ice cream than normal but this is the time to remind yourself it is OK to relax on some things and make a few exceptions to keep everyone happy.

Our children are only this age once, make the most of this precious time.  Focus your vacation on creating lasting memories for not only you but also your children!

What additional tips would share about traveling with toddlers?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

photo credits: Leshaines123 & Sydney Treasures Photography via photopin cc

10 thoughts on “Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Keeping Your Sanity”

  1. After driving from AZ to MN and back with the first time a 3 year old and 1 year old and the second time with a 5 year old and 3 year old – I feel like a pro! LOL Great tips!

  2. I don’t have children and have never traveled with little ones so I don’t think I can help you here but your tips look good. I know that keeping children from kicking the seat back of the person in front of them on the plane is a very good thing…..

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