by Donna McGougan
You’ve picked your destination and planned what you’ll do when you get there. But, first you need to get yourself and your toddler there in one piece! While travelling with a busy little one who loves to explore may seem overwhelming especially when it’s the first time, it doesn’t have to be.
1. Prepare them for the journey explain to your toddler what’s going to happen on your trip. Like adults, it’s nice for them to prepare mentally for being away from the safety and familiarity of home. Let them know you may be waiting in lines (especially if you’re flying) and be prepared with games or books to keep them entertained while waiting. If they’re old enough, there are some great videos online that show kids what it’s like to go through security. Pack one of your child’s favourite toys or blankets in their carryon so they’ll have something familiar to comfort them when they feel tired or overwhelmed.
2. Pack lightly It’s no secret that toddlers need a lot of “stuff”- highchairs, Pack’n Plays, cribs, monitors, just to name a few. A general rule of thumb is to only take what you’ll need and to leave behind what you can rent at your destination. The less you have to carry, the less you’ll be distracted or stressed. If you do take it all, consider using a porter at the airport to help with your luggage. You won’t have to worry about keeping an eye on your luggage and can focus on keeping track of your toddler.
3. Be an “Early Bird” When Flying Pre-book your seats whenever possible. The extra cost is worth the peace of mind knowing your family will be sitting together. Check in online so the airline knows you will be on the flight, decreasing your chance of being bumped from an overbooked departure. Get to the airport early to give yourself extra time to get through long baggage and security lines. Kids pick up on our stress and if we can stay calm and relaxed chances are they will too!
4. On the Flight When travelling with a toddler for long flights, be prepared with food your toddler will eat since airline food isn’t always toddler friendly. A drink can come in handy during take-off and landing to help your little one’s sensitive ears equalize. Remember to finish any fresh fruit and vegetables before you leave the plane as they will not be allowed into your point of arrival. Be sure to check the CASTA website so you follow the guidelines for liquids and gels and check the rules for your destination since security regulations may differ. Don’t forget to pack extra diapers and an extra set of clothes for both yourself and your child. Storms or mechanical issues can mean a longer than anticipated wait on the tarmac and no one wants to run out of diapers on an airplane! A “busy bag” full of stickers, a journal, a small toy, and new book is also a must have for the plane, as well as during any unforeseen delays. Pull the new items out one at a time to prolong the entertainment value. And, with the abundance of kid friendly apps, you should be able to find one or two to download onto your device.
5. Have fun! Travel days can be long and stressful for parents, but if you are organized and prepared, it will decrease your stress. Try and see everything from your kid’s perspective and have fun. Take the moving sidewalks or the shuttle carts. Watch the planes landing and taking off. Window shop in all the stores. Have a ridiculously priced treat at the airport - It’s all part of the journey so take your time, have fun and enjoy it.
Edmonton mom and traveller, Donna McGougan is a Certified Travel Consultant, of Connections Family Travel who launched her business out of her experiences travelling with her two busy boys.