Traveling with a toddler can be one of the most memorable experiences as a parent or one of the most stressful. Toddlers are often creatures of comfort and security, accustomed to their daily surroundings in the safety of their own homes. From long airplane rides or weekend, car trips to visit the grandparents, traveling with a toddler requires patience, understanding and a different approach to parenting skills.
Toddlers have a very short attention span. Focusing on one subject or item for more than five minutes is rare. Keeping your toddler comfortable and busy may well be the key to a successful trip while discovering new parenting skills that you never knew you had. Always remember that your toddler is the most critical part of any trip, local or abroad.
Depending on your preferred method of travel and your final destination, traveling with a toddler can be either rewarding or an eye-opening experience.
Planning for a trip with a toddler should be made well in advance of the actual departure date. Making every attempt to travel that coincides with your toddler’s daily routine will result in less stress on you and your toddler. Depending on age, toddlers usually travel best at night, especially on airplanes with less noise and confusion at airports. Parents are more relaxed and able to sleep during the flight as well.
Traveling by car at night is harder on the parents than the toddler. The natural swaying and rocking motion of a vehicle is more relaxing and comforting to the toddler. Traveling at night via car has distinct advantages which include covering more distances with less stopping and less traffic. Depending on the length of the trip and final destination, motels allow everyone to stretch out, relax and prepare for another long day behind the wheel.
Airplanes vs. Car
Traveling via airplane or by car, each presents a different set of challenges when traveling with a toddler. Toddlers are most often startled by loud noises and the multitude of airport passenger strangers. Removing a toddler from their natural, daily, secured environment is opening a new world for them, one of which they may or may or not be accustomed.
Flying to your destination is undoubtedly the preferred method of travel. Arriving at the airport and boarding early will acquaint your toddler with some of the noises and movements not typically experienced. Bringing a car seat that your toddler generally uses is another good idea to reassure him or her of some form of security.
All aircraft are pressurized for passenger comfort. Pressurization is often hard on a toddler’s ears and may cause immediate frustration resulting in loud outbursts. Pacifiers are a great way to relieve this pressure and have been proven to be very useful to normalize the difference in aircraft cabin pressure.
Traveling via Car
Traveling via car with a toddler is usually for shorter trips however presents its own unique set of challenges. Confined to a car seat for hours on end will lead to a fussy and uncomfortable toddler. Plan on frequent breaks when traveling with a toddler by car during daylight hours. It may take you longer to reach your destination but the extra time spent will be well worth the extra effort.
Taking advantage of the latest in technology is another great way to keep your toddler busy and happy. Traveling by airplane or car the latest in technology familiarizes your toddler with daily routines. Watching favorite toddler internet sites on mobile devices or in-car movies places a feeling of security and normalization of daily activities.
Battery operated mobile movie players are readily available and can serve many useful purposes.
Bring along items that are part of your toddler’s daily activities. From a favorite stuffed animal to a favorite toy, toddlers feel more at ease when relating to things that are seen or played with daily. Proper, comfortable clothing are also closely related to a happy or fussy toddler. From loose fitting clothes to comfortable shoes, toddlers easily recognize the feel of daily familiarity.
Favorite foods are also an important part when traveling with toddlers. Favorite snacks often turn a fussy toddler into the smiling face that warms your heart. Depending on the age of your toddler, bottled baby food beyond permitted amounts are now allowed when going through TSA pre-boarding screening.
Toddler Ground Transportation
Strollers are always recommended for ground transportation when traveling by airplane or car. Strollers enable your toddler to remain in a comfortable upright position while taking in all the sight of his or her new surroundings while freeing up parent’s hands. Always ask for gate check ticket for your toddler’s stroller before boarding if flying. A waiting stroller upon arrival at your destination is a great way to navigate through an unfamiliar airport.
Safety of your toddler should always be a primary concern while traveling. At no time should your toddler be left alone under any circumstance. Fussing or tired toddlers may require some additional comforting, holding or nurturing. Depending on the size of your toddler, slings often referred to as reverse backpacks, allow a parent to place their child in a forward-facing position while securely fastened to the parent’s shoulders. Slings are readily available.
More parents continue to recognize the importance of family unity. Traveling together by aircraft or automobile, being together and sharing experiences strengthens the family bond that will endure a lifetime. Traveling with toddlers often presents many unforeseen challenges with other obstacles to overcome.
Working together as a family unit in resolution to all challenges while traveling with a toddler, unites parents making their marriage stronger with each passing year. Reliving experiences traveling with a toddler for the first time are memories that will be cherished forever and passed on to generations yet to come. Families that travel together, regardless of age, stay together.