The Modern Mom’s Guide to Mastering Toddler Travel Mayhem

Remember the good old days when traveling anywhere was easy?  For mothers with young children, travel takes on a whole new dimension of challenge, obstacles, and logistics that require a battle plan, well in advance of any trip (short or long) away from home.   To make it work, there has to be a strategy that minimizes frustration, while still getting a family from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’.

What does every experienced modern mother know about executing a flawless travel plan for toddlers?  Some tricks that are developed by trial and error.  Ready to master a method of traveling with infants and young children that does not make you crazy?  We share some battle plans that work.

1. Baby’s First Airplane Trip

How bad could a trip on a plane be to a toddler? It turns out that a busy airport, a crowd of strangers, large machines and loud noises are somewhat intimidating for tots.  Think about moving through security as a toddler; the airport security alone is enough to upset an adult, let alone a child (and you haven’t even boarded the plane yet).

  • Do not allow the child to eat less than one hour before take off.  The combination of a pressurized cabin and nervous emotions can add up to a big mess, or a lot of airplane sickness bags.  Mid-flight is a good time to break out some healthy snacks to avoid a drop in blood sugar, and grumpiness.
  • Avoid buying bulkhead seats when flying with toddlers.  While they are comfortable and offer plenty of leg room for adults, your child will want to play on the floor and leave his or her seat (which may not be permitted by flight attendants).  Additionally, there are no forward facing trays that offer ample space for playing and eating.
  • Buy and wrap a fascinating new toy.  The excitement of unwrapping something and exploring the toy can occupy a child for at least an hour.  On second thought, wrap two.  And pack two changes of clothing on children’s hangers in your carry-on suitcase in order to stay organised and ready, because accidents happen.
  • Consult with your doctor about ear drops and ear plugs, prior to your trip.  If your child has a history of ear infections or tubes, the cabin pressure may present a lot of pain, and a mild relaxant or infant pain medication may be required for your child’s comfort.

2. First Time on a Beach

If it is the first time that your child will be visiting a fresh water or ocean beach, there are a number of precautions you can take ahead of time, to make sure that all goes smoothly when you arrive.   There are many joys and also risks to swimming on public beaches that families should prepare for.

  • SPF 60 to SPF 100 for infants is mandatory.  Their skin burns faster than adult skin in most cases, and sunburns are excruciating to children while placing them at increased risk of skin cancer after serious burns.  
  • A wide brimmed hat and sunglasses not only look cute, but they will help protect your toddler from sunburns and eye damage.  Remember, they are much closer to the ground than you are and the sun reflects off both water and sand, which can damage their eyesight.  
  • Pack a portable sun tent.  Foldable sun tents offer both children and adults a break from the sun and provide a cool place to have a nap, or conduct a diaper change in a pinch.  Bring some toys that can be played within the sun shelter, and reduce UV exposure and burn risk.

3. Bring Home Food on Vacation

Toddlers and young children can be susceptible to foodborne illnesses, and allergic reactions to different herbs, spices, and vegetables in a foreign country.  If your child’s palate has been limited to formula or pre-prepared toddler foods, it is best to stick with what you know is safe for their sensitive digestion.

  • Pack a sufficient amount of regular toddler food in your carry-on to accommodate traveling to your hotel.
  • Pre-ship or mail a box to your resort or vacation home with food supplies for your toddler.  If done in advance, non-refrigerated foods can be packed and affordably mailed to your resort, where a concierge will happily hold your box until check-in once you explain the necessity of it.  Do not ship homemade food, or unpackaged loose foods, as they may be held in customs.
  • Rely on American or recognized international brands of bottled water.  Although premium priced, it is worth the investment by avoiding any water-borne allergies or reactions to local water sources. Avoid giving children ice on a resort as well, for the same concern.

4. Planning for Time Zones and Tired Tots

Toddlers on vacation are less able to keep up with their families, than they are at home.  Frequently the unfamiliar sights and sounds both stress and exhaust young children.  Plan and print a schedule that allows for ‘down time’ in the hotel, relaxed nap and bath times, and quiet meal times, away from the hustle and bustle of a busy resort.

  • Purchase or pack breakfast bars and formula, and enjoy breakfast in the hotel room, instead of a busy dining room.  This allows toddlers to ease into the day, have a quick nap after breakfast if required, and then be ready for adventure.  Don’t worry, you can always order room service or have a family member bring you something from the omelet bar.
  • Be mindful of your toddler’s schedule in relation to changes in time zone, because your son or daughter will be operating on an internal clock that isn’t going to change, even on a Caribbean vacation.  Figure out the equivalent time and stick to routines that emulate your schedule at home, wherever possible.

A family vacation can be an exciting, fun and memorable experience that is enhanced by sharing it with your toddler.   When planning your vacation, discuss your child’s needs and set out your strategy (and write it down) so that you have an organized plan of care.  That will make the vacation fun and manageable, for everyone.

About the Author

Nicola Reynor is a passionate blogger who loves to blog about fashion, beauty, travel, health, fitness, wedding and lifestyle trends. When in leisure time, she prefers to spend time in traveling with friends and family. You can find more about her at Nicola+.