For many parents, the thought of travelling with toddlers is out of the question. Kids can be hard work and, if they’re also away from familiar surroundings, won’t it just be too difficult? Plus they probably won’t remember it, little Freddie will be teething and isn’t the money better spent elsewhere?
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We travelled extensively with our boys across Asia and Africa when our boys were toddlers, so I thought I’d share with you our top tips for travelling with a toddler. We actually think it’s one of the best ages to travel with kids.
We’re not here to tell you it will be easy but travelling with toddlers is possible and can even be better than travelling on your own! Spending quality time together bonds the family as you explore places outside your comfort zone and create precious memories to last a lifetime. As you can probably guess, we absolutely love travelling with our boys and every trip we do together leaves us wanting more.
There are so many tips for travelling with a toddler we’ve picked up along the way. Most of these aren’t really anything new, but if we had to whittle it down to our ultimate top 5, this would be it:
1. Change expectations from your travels pre-kids
Try to get out of your head any images of long afternoons lounging by the pool sipping cocktails. As a parent travelling with kids you still have to be ‘on’. Kids are just as demanding and unpredictable away from home. But, travelling provides you with a constantly changing backdrop to take on those daily parent chores and with new adventures to experience together, daily life becomes all the more rewarding. Plan your daily activities around the kids and if the kids are happy, the parents are happy.
However, even Supermums and Superdads need a break from childcare, so plan this into your travels and give each parent a few hours off now and then. Also, try and stay somewhere with a balcony, roof top, or even a spare room; anything to avoid spending your evenings in a darkened room on your phone whilst your darlings sleep. If all else fails, there’s always bathroom beers.
2. Talk to them about the travels
Show them where they are travelling to in an atlas, find photographs and watch YouTube videos. Print out pictures of things they will see on their travels and make a collage. Collect items on your travels to bring home to talk about on your return. By involving them as much as possible, they too will get excited and their little minds will be prepared for what they are about to experience. Although try to keep it vaguely realistic, our boys are rather disappointed they haven’t seen any tigers walking down the streets of Bangalore yet.
3. Don’t do too much
New places, people and cultures can be a sensory overload for little minds. Don’t try and cram too much into your day. Otherwise you may end up with grouchy, stroppy, overtired kids… and parents. You know your own kids, don’t push them too far.
Similarly, make sure there are things to keep them entertained at your accommodation. Even if there’s a pool (they can’t be swimming all the time), pack some books, stickers and craft activities to keep them busy. Try and avoid packing loads of toys. We all know the majority have a novelty value of two minutes.
4. Try and stick to their routine as much as possible
With so much change, the familiarity of routine is comforting. Try to keep nap times the same and also consider they may need to sleep for longer. If you have kids that don’t usually nap, it’s still best if they get some downtime in the middle of the day. If it’s a few hours journey to the next destination, we often time this with naptime/downtime. Also, read their favourite books before bedtime and pack the comforter (and it’s twin!).
5. Pack the kids’ tablet
Our boys each have the Amazon kids’ tablet in blue. I know, I know… screen time is bad. But for long flights, delayed trains and when the kids wake at 5:30am and there’s no TV in your hotel… it’s Paw Patrol to the rescue! Load it up with their favourite shows, films and apps (although you’ll probably find that the 5000+ games, apps, videos and books with the 1 year of Fire for Kids Unlimited is more than enough). Also, there’s a 2-year worry-free guarantee: if it breaks, just return it and Amazon will replace it for free. No questions asked.
So there you go. Our ultimate sanity saving tips for travelling with a toddler. Or perhaps you’re looking for tips for travelling with a newborn?