A holiday means time for the whole family to relax, bond and share new experiences together but travelling with toddlers comes with a special set of challenges and having done it quite frequently with my two, I think I’ve finally gotten it down to as fine an art as a recalcitrant toddler will allow. Here are some of my top tips for taming travelling toddlers.
Choose a destination where kids can get physical – make sure there’s plenty of space to run about and plenty of safe energy depleting activities to keep them busy. And remember that, while many resorts and hotels have fantastic facilities catering for older kids, it can be hard to find ones that provide for toddlers. The good news is that more resorts are realising that exhausted parents of babies and toddlers could use a bit of a break too and are offering more services geared towards their needs – from equipment, special meals and babysitting services through to designated toddler kids clubs that offer mum and dad time alone to reconnect, or simply catch up on some much needed sleep.
Once you’ve found the right destination you can begin the worrying about getting them there. And to be honest this is the trickiest bit with a toddler as even the most well behaved tot can struggle to sit still for extended periods. This can make transit grueling for everyone and given that strapping them to their seat with duct tape will likely be frowned upon, you’re going to need to arm yourself with other toddler taming tools.
I’ve watched on in horror on flights as parents offer candy and chocolates as bribes to their recalcitrant offspring, knowing full well the implosion is what usually follows as their sugar-hyped spawn spiral out of giddy control. Sweet treats are only going to make sitting still less likely and have a tendency to come hand in hand with a crash… swiftly followed by a dramatic public meltdown. This is something that, as a parent, I personally prefer to avoid. For your own sanity and peace, I’d suggest you just avoid the sugar trap in favour of healthy snacks!
Pack plenty of engaging items like books and puzzles. A portable DVD player with some favourite movies can be mum and dad’s best friend and keep busy toddlers still on holidays and in transit. For longer haul trips, pack a few little gift wrapped surprises that you can bring out at peak boredom points!
It seems pretty obvious but be sure to keep them safe! All toddlers are curious and keen to explore and new environments can create temptation. Keep them supervised and out of danger by child proofing rental cars and hotel rooms on arrival. Try to book a room on a ground floor or with an adequately fenced balcony. Make sure you keep balcony doors locked and move any furniture near railings.
Keep in mind on overseas journeys that local socket covers may not fit in international power points. If you’re concerned just pack some heavy duty tape to cover the socket. Rubber bands are an on-the-go baby proofer’s best-friend. Use them to tie up curtain and blind cords and to keep cupboards shut. Make sure windows are kept closed and use the deadbolt on external doors to avoid your toddler heading off on an adventure without you. Check for sharp edges on low furniture and either tape a wash cloth on the corners or ask the hotel if it can be temporarily removed, they won’t mind.
Plan your days well. Unlike their exhausted parents, you may surprised to discover that toddlers aren’t going to want to lay about a pool reading bestsellers or drinking cocktails. Make sure you get them out and about to age appropriate playgrounds and attractions to keep them entertained and wear them out so they’ll sleep well at night.
Finally put your little ones needs before your own – you might want to visit that vintage porcelain museum but your busy toddler (and the curator) would most likely prefer you didn’t.