Traveling with a Toddler

As I’ve mentioned we went on two different week long vacations in late June and early July.  The first as you read earlier this week was a trip to Illinois and involved a 4 and half hour or so plane flight both ways.  The second was a week long camping vacation that my family has gone on for the last 15 years and involved a 5-7 hour car ride both ways and lots of dirt and bugs once we got there.  Each vacation presented it’s challenges with a toddler and from those I have compiled a few lists of necessities and some advice that I hope with help you all with future travel plans.

Toddler Plane Ride Survival –

Must haves:

1. An ipad or tablet pre-loaded with episodes of your little ones favorite shows and some fun interactive games.  Especially if they don’t watch much tv at home (it goes in waves for us) this is a special treat sure to keep them occupied for at least some of a long flight.

2. Some simple new toys.  I found a fun flashcard flip book and a coloring book with her favorite Disney characters that had a page of stickers.  To make coloring easier and more manageable I bought a flip open clipboard at Office Depot.  It held the coloring book inside and had a bottom section for a few crayons (I kept a baggie of extras in the backpack I packed as a diaper bag).

clipboard 1 clipboard 2

3. Toddler headphones.  Not everyone around you wants to listen to multiple episodes of Mickey Mouse Club House, or the animal noises on our favorite app “Peek-a-Book Barn”.


4. Pre-bagged baggies of snacks and treats from home.  Most airlines will let you on with food and drink for babies and toddlers, just warn them as your bag goes through security.

5.  Sleep comforts for naps (if you’re lucky) or just some “rest” time on a long travel day.

Things I learned –

Timing is everything! Change activities or offer a snack before boredom or hunger fully set in.  Set up for a nap at the first sign of tiredness…don’t push the limit on this one.  On the way home from Illinios the flight was 2 hours later than G’s regular nap, and I thought she could last and then be tired enough for a nap on the plane.  I was wrong…  Our flight was delayed an extra hour, which didn’t help, and she was showing signs of being tired in the airport.  In hindsight I should have let her nap in her stroller in the airport because by the time we got on the plane and finally took off after a long taxi, she was so overly tired that she wouldn’t sleep.  She was cranky and although she toughed it out for the most part, there were tears and a few tantrums and finally a very short nap.  Also I learned the hard way that if you aren’t calm and relaxed they certainly won’t be…

Toddler Camping Essentials –

1. The ipad again was good for rest time in the cabin after a long day of playing at the beach while Mom and Dad got dinner ready.   Although not so great in the car on a windy road…that ended in a carsick baby on the way home.

2. Johnson’s anti-bacterial baby wipes…really these are good for all trips and every day use.

3. Pre-made foods and snacks.  I love all the Plum Organics products.  From the pouches to fruit snacks, Jammy Sammys and yogurt dippers my little one loves them all, they are made from great ingredients and so easy for on the go.

4. Mosquito/Bug net for over the pack and play. I slipped it over once she was asleep and also kept in on during the day to keep bugs and dust out.

bug net

What I Learned –

They can get dirty! And lets face it they have way more fun that way.  The first day I was super cautious, but after she ate a handful of river sand when I turned my head for a second I got over real quick.  I even rinsed her butt naked in the river after a beach diaper change ended in sand all over the place.  They can stay up past their bed time!  Last year we missed out on some fun times rushing Gianna back to the cabin right at 8 o’clock for bed (and she didn’t sleep anyways).  This year I let her run and play until she really showed signs of being tired, and she slept great every night.  On the flipside you can’t push the bedtime/naptime thing too far, nobody likes a full blown melt down, but there is some wiggle room and flexibility and isn’t that what vacations are for!

Here are some fave photos from our Trinity Alps Resort vacation –

2013-07-12 11.13.43  Swinging outside the General Store

2013-07-12 10.39.34

Walking through camp

2013-07-12 10.44.24   On the bridge overlooking the river

2013-07-07 08.36.21    Good morning!

102   Outside our cabin

058      Floating in the river with Auntie Laura

056  Digging in the sand along the river

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