Travel is stressful for adults; it doesn’t get any easier when you add in more luggage, little legs, and tired toddlers. Most people are worried about flying with baby balls of energy, but little, immobile (yet noisy) creatures may not be the travel issue to worry about. Whether you are going to visit relatives or experience your first fun getaway as a family unit, there are a few things that you can do to make the trip go more smoothly for parents and toddlers alike.
Talk it up
Get your toddler excited about your trip. Talk about the people you are going to see and the things that you will do together. Show him pictures of planes and trains and read books about traveling. I suggest “Amazing Airplanes” written by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker which will walk your toddler through the entire airport process in a fun way. Talk to him about the loud noises he will hear and how it will feel when he sits on a moving train. Most importantly, talk about safety. With all the extra bags, you may not be able to hold your child’s hand throughout your entire trip. Make sure he understands what is expected of him: stay close to mom and dad, be responsible for your own bags and follow all directions—the first time.
Be prepared the night before travel
Sounds obvious doesn’t it? We all know that when you have a toddler in tow, nothing goes according to schedule; unfortunately, the plane won’t wait while you try to hurry your family through the airport. Do yourself a favor and pack the night before, and I mean everything. Buy an extra toothbrush, hairbrush and bar of soap so everything can be ready to go and you don’t need to run around at the last minute throwing toiletries in the bag that you just had to use that morning. You can always use the new items when you get back home.
My family likes to travel on early flights, which means that we have to get our child up before the sun rises. It’s not easy to get my toddler dressed on any regular morning, and when he is sleepy and excited, the process doesn’t get any easier. Put out clothes and food the night before. Plan on waking up (or getting ready) 20 minutes earlier than you believe is prudent, dress yourself and your child in the outfits you had set out and grab a banana or a granola bar—something that can easily be eaten on the go. The less you need to accomplish before you walk out of the house, the better!
Wear him out
Get there early and expect to take your time. Allow your toddler to carry his own bag and walk from place to place as he will feel like a big boy and he needs to move around before being stuck in the plane for a while. Don’t expect your little person to stay still or quiet either. While you are waiting in the security line talk about your trip, take out the snacks or play with the Ninja Turtles you packed on top of the parked suitcase—find any little thing you can to keep him entertained. When you get to the waiting area, let him climb on the chairs and move around as long as he isn’t bumping into anyone nearby; basically, let him be a kid.
Don’t be ashamed of traveling with your toddler; he has the same right to be there as the adults. However, be sure not to indulge in bad behavior to keep him quiet as you will be creating many future headaches for yourself and other passengers. On my last trip, my Kindle died in a very crowded Newark terminal and my tired toddler screamed—and I mean SCREAMED. A stranger came over and asked if she could buy him a muffin. As politely (as I could muster) I told her there was nothing wrong with him, and I wouldn’t reward him for bad behavior—they both got the message.
Enjoy the moment!
It is very likely that if you have traveled with your toddler before, he doesn’t remember it, so this is a completely new experience. Count the planes that take off while you sit in the terminal, buy overpriced snacks in the gift shop that you would never allow at home and put your hands in the air as if you were riding a rollercoaster during takeoff. Your little person will take their cues from you, so make it a happy experience that they want to do over and over again.
For more information visit:
Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker
Shauna Armitage is a parenting blogger, a freelance travel writer and the co-founder of Pure Wander Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @CarpeCalamus