Traveling with Toddlers

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Last week, we took a little spring break trip to Charleston and Savannah.  We had a great time, despite some cool weather, and it was the best spending some time as a family before our next little one arrives in a few months.  Traveling with a baby or toddler can be intimidating to some, but I love it.  Nothing can beat the memories you make as a family (even though they might not remember), and it’s good for little ones to learn to be flexible and go with the flow.

Jack has traveled quite a bit since he was about 7 months old (you can see my other travel posts here, here and here).  This time was really the first time he was a full blown toddler and could walk/run and enjoy some of the sites.  He learned about 5 new words while we were gone, and it was so fun to see him point things out saying “bus!” or “truck!” as we walked along the streets.

I thought I’d share some tips for traveling with little ones because I know the idea is a little daunting.

Tip #1- Strategically Set Travel Times (and TSA Pre-Check!)

We booked this flight for Jack’s nap time and it worked out really well.   We had a long 2 hour flight and then a 45 minute flight.  As the plane took off, Jack drifted to sleep in my arms and slept the whole 2 hours.  It was amazing! We didn’t do as great setting up our flights coming home, and Jack was awake for both legs.  It was okay because we ended up with an extra seat both times (I think people are a little intimidated to sit near a toddler 😉 on those “cattle call” flights).  If you can manage to snag an extra seat, it’s the way to go!

I was also going to mention that you can sign up for TSA Pre-Check here and after paying a fee and going to get finger prints made, you can have some perks like keeping your shoes and jacket on while you go through security.  Every little bit helps when you are wrangling a toddler!

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Tip #2- Take It Slow

I tend to like a pretty fast paced vacation, especially if I’m in a city with lots to do and see. Having a little one in tow definitely causes you to slow down and take some time to enjoy each moment.  We ended up going to the children’s museum one morning in Charleston, and while I would have thought that seemed like a waste of time before I had kids, it was just what Jack needed to enjoy the rest of the day.  He played so much and fell asleep right when we put him in his stroller (which gave us time to walk the streets and explore in a little bit of peace.  We even went to eat lunch at a “nice” restaurant and wheeled him up to the table while still asleep in the stroller).

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Tip #3- Great Gear

I always like traveling light, but it’s so hard when kids need so much stuff!  One of my favorite purchases ever was this stroller by Chicco.  We love it! Our Chicco car seat attaches right to it with no extra attachments so we don’t have to worry about hauling something else along.  It also saves us from having to rent a car seat when we get to our destination.  This was big, because we waited to rent a car in Charleston until almost our last day, so we took an uber from the airport.  This was also helpful when we went to Chicago in August and took taxis.  In the past we have attached the car seat and strolled through the airport, gate checking both before we got on the plane.  This time around, we checked the car seat with our luggage (make sure you get these covers to protect both the stroller and the car seat- they can get so grimy under the plane!)

We also usually pack our “pack and play“.  It was great for this trip since we were staying in rented Airbnbs.  If you are staying in a hotel, you can usually rent a crib or pack and play if you don’t want to haul anything extra.  For us, we know that Jack sleeps fairly well in his, and didn’t really want to “rock the boat” by having him sleep in something unfamiliar.  He’s also experienced what we think was an allergic reaction to the detergent on the sheets of a pack and play he slept in on one trip, and we don’t want to relive that experience.  If that’s something you’re worried about, you can always pack an extra sheet if you know the dimensions of the crib you will be using.

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Tip #4- Snacks and Distractions

I collected some small toys to pull out for the flights and down time to keep our little man entertained.  The target dollar section is great for this.  Some things that worked for us- play-doh, stickers, magic marker pad, and tiny trains.   Jack loved playing with them all week.  (Just remember to save some for the plane ride back! I didn’t do this and ran out of entertainment).

Jack loves to eat, and packing a bunch of snacks was a lifesaver.  It was especially great to pull out snacks as we were waiting on meals, or roaming the city trying to find a restaurant.

Some things I always have in my bag while traveling:

Snacks, toys, hand sanitizer or wet wipes, diapers/wipes, extra clothes for Jack, disposable changing pads, water, tissues, pacifier wipes and extra pacifier, any medication and proof of birth (like birth certificate or passport) if traveling with a lap child.  Other things that are handy to have- disposable placemats for restaurants, a stain stick (I always forget this one), and a pacifier clip. 

Travel bag
Yikes! Looks like a mess, but I packed a lot in this tote bag!

 

Tip #5- Relax!

Even though traveling with a toddler is daunting, if you bring along the mindset that while things might not go as planned, or the way they used to go when you traveled, you are making great memories!  They might be so young they don’t remember it, but enjoy the time you are spending with them, and know they are learning new sounds, words and having experiences they might not have at home.  It can be a challenge but is so worth it!

I’m hoping to put together a Charleston/Savannah Guide soon!  I can’t wait to share some great places we discovered while on our trip!

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