7 tips for travelling with toddlers

Holidays with babies and toddlers are very different to the trips you took while child-free. At 10am, when you previously might have been stirring from sleep or quietly reading newspapers over the breakfast buffet, you’ll now be at the local playground, having already been up for four hours. At 7pm, where you previously might have been considering an aperitif before heading for a sumptuous dinner, you’ll now be wielding your phone torch trying to navigate round a hotel room and find the balcony without waking your kid up.

However, that’s not to say holidays with little kids can’t be fun! Not relaxing, of course, but enjoyable, as you get to explore new places through their eyes and spend time with your child without everyday responsibilities to worry about. Plus, there are plenty of ways you can make travelling with toddlers and young kids much easier, as we’ve discovered. Read on for our top tips for holidaying with little ones.

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Tips for travelling with toddlers

Consider timings carefully

Let’s talk travel times. In the olden days, getting a super early or late flight to save a few quid was probably worth it, but once you add in the extra stress of grumpy kids, it might not be. Also, it’s a good idea to choose a flight that incorporates some of their nap or sleep time – we can but dream of 20 minutes peace to read a magazine, right? Whether it’s a hire car or specific train, make sure you have a plan for when you arrive at your destination, because flapping around wondering how to get to your hotel with a boisterous toddler in tow will not be fun.

Plan, plan, plan

Forget the old days where you could just fling a bikini and some sun cream in your suitcase ten minutes before leaving for the airport – travelling with babies or toddlers requires some military-style planning. Make a list of everything you’ll need with plenty of time to spare, and physically tick things off as you put them in the suitcase. You will probably find that after spending days packing for your children you suddenly remember yourself and end up with one pair of shorts and an old T-shirt for the entire holiday – que sera, sera.

Get a lightweight buggy

A huge recommendation for this one, particularly if you are flying. There are some absolutely brilliant buggies these days that are super lightweight and fold down into neat little packages that you can slot into the overhead lockers on a plane (which means you don’t have to leave your buggy outside the doors to be shoved in with all the other luggage). The BABYZEN YOYO is a popular choice, but less than half the price and equally as effective is the Micralite Profold, which also has ample storage underneath for all your towels, sun cream etc. as well as a good shade over the top for little ones who need a nap in the sun.

Think through the entertainment

Did you know a toddler’s attention span is so small it’s actually invisible to the human eye? Okay, we joke, but you know what we mean. Always pack more entertainment options than you think you might need (the same goes for plane snacks – think about what seems a reasonable amount, then double it). Good options for a plane include story books, colouring, these magic water books and pop it sensory toys. Unless you are completely anti-screens, this is also a good time to crack out the cartoons – we rate the Amazon Fire kids’ tablet and JBL wireless headphones.

Invest in the right gear

Right from babyhood, there’s a seemingly endless supply of ‘must-have’ gear that comes with kids, and a high percentage of it you can actually do without. However, a few products have actually turned out to be very useful for us when travelling with toddlers. These include a portable black-out blind so you can block out blazing sunshine at bedtime, and for kids still sliding off a normal seat, this pack-away high chair. Also, remember that little kids will want to stay in the swimming pool or sea forever, no matter how freezing, so a mini wetsuit can be a good shout (Jojo Maman Bebe have a good range). These anti-slip pool shoes are also genius, and may reduce your heart palpitations while shouting ‘No running by the pool!’ for the eight hundredth time.

Image: Jojo Maman Bebe

Don’t forget Calpol

Learnt this one the hard way.

Forget perfection

We’re constantly bombarded these days with images of perfect parenthood – Instagram snaps of grinning families cavorting around the beach or perfectly-dressed mothers clutching a toddler as they look out into the sunset. Remember, that’s only a snapshot of most people’s holidays – they’ve probably got just as many tantrums, arguments and nap-refusing monsters to deal with as you have. Holidaying with little ones is not going to be perfect, but if you can embrace the joyful moments and let yourself move on quickly from any tension, you’ll have a fabulous time and plenty of brilliant memories to look back on.

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