We decided after the birth of our first child we wanted to spend more time together as a family. It made sense for us to downsize to make that happen. Why not live in an RV to do some traveling while we are it? We sold our house right after her first birthday and moved in our home on wheels to begin this family adventure.
What I realized very quickly was traveling with a toddler is HARD! You saw this coming didn’t you. They are bored, tired, or hungry two-thirds of the day making it difficult to be on the go. Believe me, I get it. I pretty much travel with a toddler for a living.
Here are some traveling tips to keep your toddler happy and travel ready:
1) Plan around their schedule as much as possible
If your toddler ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
I am not suggesting your whole travel plans revolve around your toddler (although sometimes they change the course of plans very quickly). What I am saying is that if you plan your itinerary according to the times they well most enjoy life, then try and make that happen for everyone’s sake involved. Does your toddler do better in the mornings or after naps?
Make sure to have meals planned out, because a hungry toddler means GAME OVER! Know how long things will take and have a plan of attacked formed. I am not a HUGE planner when it comes to travel, but I have had to map things out better to get a happy toddler in return.
Planning around her schedule has made a world of differences on how we travel. If we know it will be a long drive we plan the drive around nap time so she can sleep in the car or we plan the quiet part of the day such as a museum so she can get her nap in. Just be aware sometimes this backfires and you are in a quiet museum with a screaming sleepy child. That is just how it goes with toddler life.
You win some and you lose some, but most of the time this plan is very well executed from our personal experience.
Activities, activities, and more activities! Toddlers love to be stimulated. Whether it is in a car or stroller they love interaction and hands-on entertainment. I do think it is good for a child to learn to be still and content at times as well and not be overstimulated, but there is a balance to achieve. Every child is different and they enjoy a variety of activities.
My top place to look for age appropriate past times is Pinterest. One of our favorite car activities is a cookie sheet with letter magnets on it or chalk paint it as well so they can draw and color. Adding a tray to our stroller has also been a game changer, because our little one can use the tray for coloring, stickers, play with toys, or snacking.
2) Snacks and Emergency snacks.
We travel with tons of snacks because a hangry toddler is no joke and can be a hand full. I love our Bento Box because I can pack fruits and veggies she enjoys and take it on the go with no spills or leaking. This cute lunchbox fits it perfect.
If you are looking for healthy Emergency snacks I have loved these organic suckers. We can go on a hike and with out toddler in her carrier and with a sucker in hand we are good to go!
I also have discovered Emergency snacks. The stuff that is so yummy it will stop any tantrum in it’s tracks. These include and are not limited to (please no judgment here this is for emergency uses) chocolate, suckers, jelly beans you know the good stuff:) I’m just suggesting a carrot stick for my child is not going to stop her break downs. We keep on hand “the goods” so when she is over it and losing it we can push the reset button with this tip.
When you are in public with a toddler is having a melt down this break the glass in case of emergency tip has saved us many of times. It is more of a distraction method and a bandaid fix, but will patch up the situation until it can be solved. For us this has been a life saver….pun intended.
3) Comfortable stroller
If you have a comfy stroller your little one likes then stick with it! We have been the 3 Little Bears of strollers trying to find the right one. After much trial and error and research the BOB Revolution has been our favorite. It glides over any terrain so easily including sidewalks that would jar our little awake with our plastic wheel stroller. She can easily nap in this stroller due to the comfort, it has a large canopy shade, and we can use it for jogging. We added the tray and, as mentioned above, this has been an amazing feature. It is a little bulky, but we have decided it is totally worth it for all the amazing features it offers.
4) Plan out breaks for them to run and play
Planning days of activities that doesn’t involve toddler interaction is a ticking time bomb. The key for us as parents getting to do a few adult activities means planning play time for you little one. If there is something we want to check out and they will need to be sitting in the car or stroller for a bit, then make sure to plan out a park visit or play break for them.
This allows them to blow off some toddler steam and in return you as the parent get to enjoy time for something you enjoy as well. It is a compromise and win win. We have found many cities have some amazing parks located in very convenient spots so take advantage of the areas.
5) Have lighter days in between your busy days
We have discovered taking days off and allowing days of rest have been beneficial. Doing back to back busy or travel days has never worked out well for us. One day of stroller or car travel is doable, but by day two our little one is not happy. If you know you have a heavy travel day, then try and plan a rest day to allow them to reset and stay refreshed. We have discovered what our littles limits are and we listen to her.
Travel as a family is an amazing opportunity. Don’t let the fear of toddler drama hold you back from exploring. Some days are good days and some are bad days. All kids are different and every day is different.
Some days our little one will nap in her stroller and be the perfect traveler. The next day she has decided she is not willing to cooperate that day and that is okay. We adjust the schedule and learn to roll with it.
I think that has been the biggest piece of advice is to not get upset when everything does not go according to plan.
We have had to cut our days short multiple times, but we are making memories as a family. As long as we are spending time together that is a good day!