5 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

Whether it’s Up North to Grandmother’s house you go, or on a flight to visit Mickey, traveling with our family members ages one to four is no easy feat! So, if you’re packing up for a trip soon, here are five tips for traveling with toddlers.

The 3 T’s: Toys, Tinfoil, Tape!

If you feel that your day of travel is long, imagine how it seems to your two-year-old! The first tip for traveling with toddlers is to plan tiny activities versus those that require a long attention span. Hit the dollar store before your trip and purchase small, age-appropriate toys that can be handed out as needed. Having something new to look forward to every hour or two will help your little traveler stay occupied, but also have something to look forward to. 

To add to the fun, wrap each toy in wrapping paper, tinfoil, or tissue paper. Some children have fun uncovering what’s inside! You can also use plastic Easter eggs to hide small snacks or treats! 

Another great tip for traveling with toddlers is to build your own Travel Kit! Check out this post from Busy Toddler, a Detroit Mom favorite, for more info! 

Favorite Pro Tip: Grab a roll of painter’s tape – kids can stick it on windows, tray tables, and even seats without harm!

Bring Bags of All Sizes

The hardest part of traveling is the unknown, especially for your toddler. Another great tip for traveling with toddlers is to be prepared for whatever comes your way by packing reinforcements–bags. On our most recent trip in the skies, I had at least 10 gallon-sized Ziploc bags in tow. These can come in handy for almost anything:

  • The food your kid insisted you purchase for them, but they didn’t finish (surprise!)
  • A quick garbage for diapers, dirty tissues, or crushed snacks
  • For play: kids can place toys in and out of the bag, put stickers on it, or even draw on it

The options are endless and they take up virtually no room to pack! And speaking of garbage–grab a large garbage bag or two! You never know when you’ll need one for clean-up, or spare clothes, or blankets!

Favorite Pro Tip: Create a Ziploc bag flashlight hide and seek game!

Everybody Gets an Outfit!

You get out an outfit! You get an outfit! Everybody gets an outfit . . . or two! The one tip for traveling with toddlers that you might overlook is the need for everyone to have a spare outfit. It’s not news that kids are messy, but we sometimes forget that kids can get us messy, too! Whether it’s a spill from a juice box, a bout of carsickness, or a potty training accident, everyone should be prepared with a change of clothes. The last thing you want is to have to sit through a five-hour drive with milk-soaked pants. 

Favorite Pro Tip: Choose items that are easy to grab and pack (like yoga pants) versus bulkier items (like jeans).

Prepare with Books and Play

Traveling can be stressful for anyone, much less a toddler. While their attention spans may be short, it can be helpful to discuss what you are doing and what will be happening. You can find a variety of books on the topic of travel, and most popular educational TV shows have an episode or two about going on trips. 

Using specific examples will also help toddlers prepare for what’s ahead; instead of saying, “We are going on a plane,” explain each step of the process: “We are going to drive in our car to the airport, then we’ll take a red bus! When we get inside, there might be a lot of waiting, but mom has some toys for you to play with.”

Playtime can also be a great learning tool to help kids anticipate their journey. Set up four chairs to play “car trip,” or mimic the sounds and tasks they’ll see on an airplane, like the engine roar or buckling our seat belts. 

Favorite Pro Tip: Let your toddler pack a backpack! Being part of the process makes it fun and less unknown.

When All Else Fails: Snacks

The top tip for traveling with toddlers is to just give them the cookie. While some youngsters may be better at travel plans than others, at the end of the day toddlers are toddlers. Pack their favorite snacks and lots of them! Keep them extra happy by placing them in Ziploc baggies with designs or characters on them, or use reusable pouches with fun colors! Bumkins are a great choice, and super easy to clean!

Favorite Pro Tip: Don’t forget about popping ears on the plane! Bring gummy bears or starbursts to mimic the chewing of gum while keeping toddlers safe! 

Give Yourself Parenting Grace

Remember that traveling with toddlers is not a normal day of parenting–it’s parenting survival mode. Do what you need to do to keep your kiddo calm, happy, and entertained. Don’t worry about the people around you–you’re never going to see them again. And, don’t stress if this isn’t the easiest day. Equip yourself with these five Detroit Mom-approved tips for travelling with toddlers, and you’re already on your way to a successful trip! Do you have a traveling with toddlers tip? Tell us!

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out Stacy’s post with tips for traveling with friends!

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Sofia is a New Yorker living in Troy, dancing in the living room, and waiting for the next appropriate opportunity to eat cake. She's a proud wife, and boy mom to a giggly, little infant and a a fearless pre-K'er! Plus her two loving feline furbabies. She spends most of her time juggling a baby in one hand a laptop in the other, running her business as a corporate event planner. When she's not multitasking, she loves watching Dateline with her husband and drinking wine with anyone who will pull up a chair! Her passion in life is animal rights, in her free time she supports rescue organizations, local and worldwide, and continues to work on her vegan cuisine skills!


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