Traveling With Toddlers While Maintaining Your Sanity (It Can be Done!)

Julie Ryan Evans

boy with airplaneTraveling with toddlers ... does that mere phrase strike panic in your heart?

Most anyone who has or had a toddler has a terrible travel tale to tell ... or one to come.

They are brutal because all you want to do is get over the river and through the damn woods to grandmother's house or wherever else it is you are going. But there you are, trapped in a car, plane, train, or boat with a wailing, tantruming toddler and few options for escape.

Some scenarios are inevitable no matter what you do, but there are plenty of preparations you can make to address and attack most issues as (and hopefully before) they arise.

Here are five tips for traveling with toddlers:

1. Snacks

Keep the majority healthy if you can -- a sugar-filled child is NOT going to make for better travel by any means. But keep a couple of emergency treats stashed somewhere.

If there's ever a time to bribe a child into behaving, it's when you're feeling the glaring eyes of hundreds of your fellow passengers.

2. Entertainment

Even if you believe TV and video games aren't appropriate for children, I'd highly recommend bending your rule to include a portable DVD player and perhaps at least one handheld video game. There are plenty of educational versions of both, and it will allow you a brief respite.

Other non-electronic ideas include:

  • Stickers and paper (easier than crayons and markers that tend to roll away)
  • Window clings
  • Books
  • A whole bag of crap from your local party store that you can unveil piece by piece and not care if any of it gets lost
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Toilet paper from the bathroom if you get desperate

3. A Change of Clothes for All Family Members

You think you won't need them, but just when you don't pack them, you will. Nothing says grumpy child or grumpy parent  more than spilled upon/peed upon/puked upon clothing that can't be removed.

4. Patience

Whether you're traveling by land, air, or sea, the best laid plans are often thwarted. Getting angry and tense are only going to make matters worse, so before you even start out, start practicing your patience. It's very likely going to be tried.

Try inviting your toddler's entire preschool class over for a playdate the day before you leave -- anything that happens during your travels will seem easy compared to that.

5. Soothers

Think sound-cancelling earphones, booze, homemade baked goods ... to offer the passengers around you in case it all goes to hell. Perhaps save a little of the booze for you too if you're not driving.

What are your tips for surviving travel with toddlers?

Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr

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