The Adventure Starts Here: Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Our trip to Miami was our first real vacation with Noah.  We had stayed in a hotel with him before, but this was the first time we took him on a plane and were away for more than one night.  When preparing for this trip, I loved looking at blogs with advice for traveling with a toddler.  I found a lot of helpful tips.  As with anything though, nothing can help you more than actual experience.  So after traveling with Noah, I learned a few things…

1.  Be prepared for everything.  Some people will tell you that there is an ideal time to fly with a kid.  Some think it's best to go first thing in the morning, others say do it when your child is most likely to nap.  Maybe this is more important with a longer flight, but since ours was only 2.5 hours long, we didn't find it made much of a difference.  Our flight there left at 9am.  At home, Noah doesn't nap until 1 pm, so I really didn't have any expectations of him sleeping.  But after an hour of playing, he wanted a bottle and fell asleep quickly.  On the way home, our flight left at 6pm and got in at 9.  If anything, I expected him to fall asleep for the last part of the flight.  I never could have planned that he wouldn't nap much that day and instead fall asleep before we took off and sleep the whole flight!  My point is, that you really can't plan too much in regards to a child (on a plane or not).   Instead, I would just be prepared.  Be prepared that your child will sleep the whole time and your arms will start to hurt and fall asleep and you might want something to do to make the time go faster.  While on the other hand, your child might be awake and need to be entertained the entire flight.  We brought his iPad, board books, little figurines, tons of snacks, and his little book bag (since he likes zippers and taking things out and putting them back in things).  And as for me, I have the kindle app on my phone, and when Noah fell asleep I did some reading.  You'll have your phone on you anyway, so you can use your carry-on for all their stuff.  This is getting a little long, but in regards to being prepared, we also brought a change of clothes for ALL of us.  Thankfully none of us needed them, but in the event that he threw up or even just spilled a drink on us, we wanted to have a change of clothes just in case.  

2.  Pack light and get what you can there.  We contemplated bringing our own car seat and even ordered the travel bag off Amazon.  In the end though, we decided to rent one through our car rental company.  It was the best decision.  Lugging that through Miami airport and on the shuttle to go pick up our car (at an offsite location) would have been torture for Chris (who already had to carry all the bags).  Yes, our car seat at home is nicer and better for Noah to snooze in the car in, but it was 4 days, we dealt.  And I have to say that the car seat was really clean and seemed new.  I was impressed.  

We also only packed enough diapers and wipes to get us through one day.  We then stopped at Target when we first got there and stocked up on supplies.  We also bought milk, water, soda, and some food for the hotel room.  We called ahead and asked for a fridge for a room… another tip that we've been doing even before Noah.  Instead of packing toys for the beach and pool, Chris picked up a few cheaper toys at Target as well.  It saved us a lot of space!  

3.  Try to make sleeping easier.  My tip for sleeping in a hotel, is to try your best to recreate how they sleep at home.  For us, we didn't even bother asking for a crib.  At home, while Noah starts off in his crib, he always ends up coming in our bed.  So we figured, why waste the limited space in the room with a crib.  We made sure we got a room with a king bed and he just slept in the middle.  However, if your child is a great crib sleeper, I would suggest getting one for the room.  If they can only sleep with a sound machine, bring it or download an app for your phone.  If they have any books, stuffed animals, or blankets they must have, then indeed bring those with you as well.  Kids love routine, so try your best to keep as much the same as possible.  

4.  Be prepared to clean.  Kids travel with a lot of stuff.  We brought down bottles, sippy cups, bowls/plates, and some spoons and forks with us.  As a result, we had things to clean each night.  So we also made sure to bring a bottle brush and a travel size container of dish soap with us to clean his things each night in the hotel sink.  I would imagine this would be a simple thing to forget, so you could always just pick some up when you hit Target for all the other supplies.  

5.  Avoid conflicting schedules.  Hotels have their own schedules, and so do kids.  We found they don't often mix well.  Hotels (at least ours did) assume that you will be out of your room all day, and clean the rooms in the afternoon.  We learned this when we came up for Noah's nap at 1pm and the room was still not cleaned.  The maids then came when Noah was sleeping and we had to turn them away.  Our hotel did turndown service, but since we went to early dinners so we could be back in time for Noah's bed time, sometimes this was not done by the time we got back.  This is not me complaining about hotels, but rather that if you have specific needs that are different from the norm, it's best to let them know.  My suggestion would be to call housekeeping when you leave and ask that they come clean the room before you get back for nap.  Or request they do turndown service a little earlier for you. 

6.  Wear comfortable shoes!  I really need to do better with this one!  Since we were going for a beach vacation, I brought loafers for the plane, flip flops for the beach and pool, and flat sandals to wear to dinner.  I forgot that we would want to walk the board walk in the mornings and that we planned to go to the zoo on the Friday.  I really wish I had also packed some sneakers, or wore them instead of the loafers.  Live and learn.  

There you have it!  Do you have any tips for traveling with a kid (or even without one)???  I'd love to hear them!


  1. It is always an adventure traveling with little ones but I find if you go into it without expectations of a normal schedule, it goes pretty well. Great tips!

  2. These are super helpful tips! We've yet to bring Mason on an airplane so I will have to book mark this for our first time!

  3. These are really great tips. I never really thought about the hotel timing issue. Good to remember. And we also try to buy things (toys and diapers) once we get there instead of wasting valuable luggage space on those items. Thanks so much for linking up with us!

  4. These are wonderful tips! I've heard other mamas say how they always buy their diapers once they get there - I might start doing that, we always end up going to the store anyhow. We got an umbrella stroller for our upcoming trip too, I'm so glad we'll have one that doesn't take up half of the car space we have! I'm so glad I found your blog!

  5. We always call down and tell them when we are leaving so that they will get the room cleaned in time!
    I love the idea to take the minimum and buy what we can once we reach our destination! I feel like we can't ever get out the door because I'm packing up our whole house! Sheesh!


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