Traveling with you toddler doesn’t have to be difficult. With some simple planning and a bit of ingenuity, taking your little one on a car, train, bus or plane can actually be an enjoyable experience. As someone who’s ever traveled with toddlers can tell you, it’s much interesting to discover the world with children. They’re curious, fun, and extremely enthusiastic. This little guide will hopefully help both of you enjoy your trip.
1. Pack your child’s favorite toys
Although it might be tempting to take the entire toy box just in case, this strategy will seriously weigh you down. Imagine running through a busy airport the day before Thanksgiving toting your toddler, a stroller, a few suitcases and a garbage bag sized sack of stuffies, building blocks, crayons, dolls and more.
Instead of taking it all, ask your child to choose a few favorites for your trip. If your child sleeps with the same stuffed bear every night, it’s an absolute must for soothing and transition times. Try to settle on toys that are engaging, have multiple uses and will not annoy other travelers. For example, your toddler may get hours of play out of her talking Dora doll or his favorite superhero, but the passengers around your child on a four-hour flight will not take as much pleasure in the constant noise.
Easy ideas for toys and play-things that travel well with toddler include:
- Interactive board books with textures, pop-ups or flaps
- Toy transportation items such as cars or plains that mimic the mode that you are taking
- Coloring book or pages and thick crayons
- Plush animals or dolls
2. Consider playing fun games
Make your trip entertaining by playing a variety of games on the way to and from your destination. Don’t look at a long bus ride as a simple means to get from point A to point B. Take control of your trip and plan out three or four fun games to try with your toddler. From time tested favorites to your own creations, these games can help to fill the time in an educational way:
Car color match: Your two-year-old may be just beginning to learn the color names at home or in a preschool program. Help your little one to improve their color recognition skills by looking for specific shades and hues passing by on a long car or bus trip. Choose a color such as red or blue and ask them to say the color word each time they see a new car that matches.
Counting games: Counting is one of the easiest ways to the pass the time. Create your own game on the spot based on whatever you see. If you are looking out the window of a train, ask your little one to count the trees that go by. Likewise, you can count items in the interior. Count how many people are in your row during an airplane trip or how many different colors are on the inside of a bus.
Movement games: Your toddler may not be able to get up and run around during a long plane ride, but they can still stretch their legs playing a few seated movement games. Ask your child to touch their toes, clap their hands or wave to the birds that they see outside of the window to release a little bit of pent up energy.
3. Create quiet time
Even the chattiest of toddlers needs some quiet time to settle down and rest. Getting your energetic two-year-old to sleep on an exciting plane or train trip may be more difficult than you bargained for. Before demanding that they nap simply so they won’t be grumpy when you get to grandma’s house may not be the best strategy. Create a relaxing environment (if possible) and encourage quiet time by using:
- Soft music
- Singing a quiet lullaby together
- Reading a book
- Cuddling with a favorite stuffed animal
- Telling your own story
Cut down on the challenges that traveling with your toddler presents by planning ahead. Pack only the toys that they will need, making sure to pick ones that are truly necessary. Create a few travel games to pass the time and be ready with some quiet time activities for calming and soothing your sleepy child.