Toddlers are precious, lovable, frustrating, fascinating, and mostly (a mon avis) completely unpredictable. This is often what makes traveling with them most difficult. They can go from angel to baby devil (relatively speaking) in ½ a second. That’s why being overly prepared is key.
Here are a few of my tips for traveling with a toddler-in-tow:
First and foremost – SNACKS! (The healthy kind)
As it turns out, food is actually the way to Olive’s heart. I have found that keeping her set up with treats is crucial to keeping her happy. That said, I don’t want a sugar high 2-year old running the aisles of the plane, so I try to focus on healthy, lower sugar options, packaged in kid-friendly colors to keep her interested.
Specifically, I have luck with the following snacks (all from Whole Foods):
- Bare Apple Chips
- Earth’s Best Apple Snack Bars
- Gogo Squeeze Fruit & Veggie Pouches
- Brad’s Raw Broccoli Poppers (the super cheesy or pizza flavored)
- Oloves Snack Packs of Flavored Olives (fitting…right?)
- Living Raw Cacao Truffles (she thinks it’s legit cake)
- Cliff Bar Kids Organic Fruit Ropes (twizzler replacement)
- WOW Cup (no spills!)
Secondly – ENTERTAINMENT! (Don’t count on them snoozing – though a mama can dream)
At this stage of motherhood, I can only vouch for entertaining little girls – but there must be some crossover. I would never leave home without an iPad stocked with her favorite movies and a whimsy headset (with noise control to protect her little ears) but I reserve this for final meltdown moments or complete boredom. You have their full attention on a plane, so it is the perfect time to work on new skills. I always pack our alphabet flashcards. To be honest, I thought it was a total waist of time at first, but she really loves the challenge (and collecting the cards is like a game!)
Here is a full list of my entertainment kit:
- Melissa & Doug Paint with Water (ideal as all you need is water to make it work!)
- Crayola Color Magic Markers + Magic Paper (why risk marker stains on airplane or car seats)
- Imagine Ink Mess Free Game Books
- Mead Alphabet Flashcards
- iPad (fully loaded with apps & movies + subtitles ON…our driver in China learned English this way so I am giving it a GO!)
- Noise Control Headset (Angry Bird set from Wal-Mart is an Olive favorite)
- Glue Sticks and Paper Shapes (or cut up strips of old magazines work too)
SEE...They really work!
This is a BIG one – POTTY TRAINING must-haves-
The first thing you need to pack is your brain. I am amazed at how often I get distracted and forget to ask her if she needs to pee-pee. Remembering, this crucial part of potty trainer is the key to success. Other than that, it’s about having the tools to keep her dry and happy. Treats are a big part of this for Olive and, in sticking to the low sugar, I bring along a full box of tic-tacs. They’re tiny, low in calories, and it only takes 2 as a reward to get her to pee in the airplane potty. (I also bring a few suckers and a pack of m&m’s for moments of desperation.
The full list of "pee-pee in the potty" must-haves include:
- Extra Big Girl Panties
- Extra Panty Covers
- A Few Pull-Ups for Worse Case Scenarios
- Extra Set of Clothes
- Rewards (candy, suckers, whatever works!)
- Wet Ones
- Pack of Baby Wipes
- A Handy Clutch (I use a water resistant Kestrel wristlet to keep everything together)
Lastly, don’t forget the ESSENTIALS!
- Favorite Toy
- Lightweight Blanket (Aiden & Anais swaddles are a personal fav)
- Travel Pillow (makes for a higher probability of a nap)
- Pacifier (I know. I know. She’s almost 2 ½ but you do what you gotta do)
- MINI Back Pack (Olive loves being able to carry her own loot)
- Stroller (and bag for keeping it clean/dry at gate check)
- The Mommy Hook (basically a 3rd hand)
Other than the material things, it’s important to pack forgiveness and patience. And, I don’t mean forgiveness for your toddler – I mean for yourself. Being a mama is no joke and traveling with a toddler is seriously NO joke. There will be dirty looks (when they get up every 20 minutes to pee or make a shrill noise). But you know what – those people can suck it. Mostly likely they are not parents. And if they are, well then – they can really suck it! Being able to show your child different parts of the world is a wonderful gift. Real life experiences can far out way what they will learn in school or playing at home in the backyard (or Central Park for the true city folk). Rather that feeling guilty for possibly inconveniencing someone who doesn’t find your child utterly adorable (as no doubt they are) how about using a free drink coupon to order a beer or glass of wine and give yourself a pat on the back for being awesome.
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