How to Travel with Your Toddler and Not Go Insane
Many of us travel during this hectic time to be close to family and friends, and once you are there it is great. But the busy travel season with your toddler can be a totally overwhelming experience. As a parent I find it helpful to have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve for these “desperate” times!
Below are a few ideas will make travel easier, but remember, children feed off of our energy; so try as much as possible to stay calm throughout your trip. Give yourself plenty of time in case your child does have a meltdown. Try to prepare your child and set the expectations beforehand–this can be done by talking to him/her about what to expect. And, also bring plenty of things to keep your child entertained.
It is helpful to be equipped with the right tools so you don’t add ‘boredom’ to the list of possible reasons for a meltdown. Traveling is one of these times that it’s okay to pull out the stops and bring out some exciting and portable toys/activities. But, don’t think that you need to buy a new toy each time they travel. Getting the right toys /activities and limiting their use except for travel is a great way to attract (and hopefully keep) your child’s attention and focus.
Always make sure that you communicate with your toddler before and while you are traveling. Help them know what to expect and what you expect of them. This can help prevent meltdowns, however sometimes meltdowns are unavoidable especially with an overly tired or overwhelmed and excited child.
If your child has a meltdown, don’t feel embarrassed; most people have been in the same situation. You need to remember to stay calm, do what you do at home, do not yell or threaten, focus on your child, and try to redirect him. Most likely they are tantruming from the change in schedule or the unfamiliar situation, which can be reasons for fight or flight behaviors. To help calm your toddler try things like walking, singing, playing with an item, offering a snack, and giving lots of cuddles and kisses.
Here are a couple items, activities, and snacks that I always travel with.
A COMFORTING OBJECT
Be sure to bring a comforting object, travel—especially flying—can be an overwhelming experience and your kiddo’s reassurance item (e.g., a plush toy) is a must-have when you need to quickly soothe an upset child.
Books are a great travel item. Find new ways to read them, such as talking about the pictures or playing “I spy.”
MAGNETIC CREATIVITY BOARD
As I have learned, searching for parts and pieces of toy sets is NOT an ideal activity on a plane. To avoid this, I LOVE magnetic toys /activities. A great one is the Janod Toys Magnetic Crazy Face. Everything you need to explore and have fun with is in the box making it great for travel. It allows for creative and silly fun with many possibilities, holding a toddler’s attention longer. You pick a card and get creative with the magnets or match the images on the card.
Plan Toys My Art Board is an art board that stores many great art tools inside making it perfect for traveling. It has a chalkboard or can hold a standard size of paper. It can be used as a stable table on the floor or your child’s lap while on the go.
My boys love having some type of truck or car with them when they travel. They seem to be able to find many surfaces where they can drive them and create their own play ideas. These mini construction trucks are super cute and sturdy. Choose the excavator, bulldozer, or roller—or collect all three!
Snack or mealtime can be a great activity on a plane, but it is not the time to try a new food or load kids up with sugary treats. Be conscious not bring food that is loaded with sugar which will induce a sugar high followed by the inevitable crash. This can lead to challenging behaviors and let’s be honest, it’s not good for their little systems. Some great snack ideas include pre-cut fruit or vegetables, crackers, dips etc. However, I do think it’s always helpful to have some type of special treat on hand just in case you need it—but this is up to you. A fun way to store snacks is in the Beaba snack container.