10 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers
Rosie Pope proves her parenting brilliance with these 10 gems that will save your holiday vacation.
From Rosie: Before taking advice from anyone on traveling with kids, I believe it is important to know their qualifications. To put you at ease, I have, by plane, train, and automobile, domestically and internationally, traveled tout seul with all four of my kids and, believe me, even with the best skills, things can go awry! On one memorable occasion, I forgot my driver’s license. I am proud to say the kids and I still managed to board the plane and get back to NYC—and I didn’t even have to cry at check-in! Another cherished moment brought diaper explosion to a whole new level when my son’s diaper leaked so many times, we went through all the extra clothes in our travel luggage. The result was me boarding the plane in my cami (it was winter), with my naked son wrapped in my sweater. Some way to arrive in London, but thank goodness I decided to layer that day because just a bra would probably have been harder to board in than with no license! With years of experience traveling by myself as an “unaccompanied minor,” and then, for the last seven years, as a mom, I am pleased to say I haven’t experienced any of these traumas as of late. (I am not, however, as hardcore as some women I know who travel with a portable potty in the car so as not to waste precious minutes at rest stops! That’s what I call dedication to making good time!) Now that you know where I land—pun, of course, intended—I will share with you my 10 top tips for traveling with kids during the holidays:
IMAGES COURTESY OF #TEAMIVANKA
1. Throw away any dedication to sticking with the plan
Go into the travel day as flexible as you can with the confidence that you will get to your destination eventually and there will hopefully be a glass of wine within your reach upon arrival (something to definitely plan for in advance). Yes, rest assured, like any other, this day shall end and a new one will begin!
2. Think ahead about the supplies you are going to need
It’s a pain to travel with more than a day’s supply of diapers, wipes and other necessities, so use the wonderful world of free next-day delivery and have things delivered to your destination in advance.
3. Roll the bedtime dice
For many, traveling during naps or bedtimes can be a really good idea to maximize the amount of time your little one spends sleeping during the trip. Beware though—this can backfire if your over-tired and over-excited little one refuses to sleep. I like to play dice, so this is a chance I will take... Hello, red eye!
4. Pack healthy food
While I am not a candy hater, lots of sugar and being strapped to your seat don’t always make for the best combination. Plan to have healthy food on hand, that your kids like, in order to save money and ensure your little ones don’t wind up with a bad alternative because you have nothing readily available. You can go through most airport security checkpoints with liquids if you tell them they are for your children. Yes, the fluids will be subject to extra screening, but it’s better than having to buy all of that once you have checked in (if you’re lucky enough that your airport even carries your go-to brands).
5. Remember: your kids think this is an adventure
For most kids, the journey is part of the vacation and can be equally, if not more, exciting. While you may not feel the same level of enthusiasm for the journey part of your trip, try and see it through their eyes and make each experience full and fun. Checking in with little ones pressing buttons, and driving with map-reading help, can make the experience so much more pleasing
6. Turn off your “screen time” watch
In my opinion, throw any notion of screen time being a bad thing out the window until you have arrived at your destination. Travel can be boring for the rest of us, and if you allow yourself a little People magazine, then let your little ones have some screens!
7. Give estimations children can understand
When faced with the “How Much Longer” question, try not to lose your patience, but, instead, provide a time approximation that is more understandable for your children. I like to talk in terms of the length of their favorite TV shows; e.g., “It’s going to be as long as three more episodes of Princess Sofia!”
8. Embrace travel traditions
One of our favorite travel traditions is for me to wrap up little dollar-store gifts that each child gets every hour. I try and make the gifts light and inexpensive—but entertaining for at least some of that hour (e.g., stickers, coloring books, mini puzzles, tic-tac-toe or a really good lollipop if you want to take the sugar gamble).
9. Adopt your new time zone upon arrival
For those traveling to new time zones, make sure to adjust to the new time zone as soon as you arrive. Take your children for a walk outside. With exposure to sunlight, kids’ body clocks adapt very quickly and they can really handle time changes with relative ease.
10. Sanitize as you go
I’m no germaphobe, but nothing puts a downer on the holiday like a sickness, so try and minimize exposure during travel with lots of hand-washing. Wipe down tray tables and other eating areas on your journey and turn off any overhead fans that may be recirculating air from all those people coughing and spluttering around you! Armed with this advice, sit back, remember tomorrow will come, and accept traveling as part of the adventure. You, my friend, are not in control of traffic or delayed flights, but you can make sure there is some wine at the end of the road! Cheers!
For more expert advice from Rosie Pope, read her recent columns on the site and visit her online at RosiePope.com and @RosiePope on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Also! Attention new moms—Rosie’s new nursing collection is now available online (“…because who doesn’t want a little bit of pretty when you haven’t had the chance to wash your hair in days?!” – Rosie).