I recalled having a lot of anxiety before any traveling we did when our kids were toddlers. A long car ride or a long flight can be a nightmare if you are not well prepared. I figured I would offer some tips to surviving the trip:
For car rides:
1) Schedule the ride around nap time if you can. Kids will sleep in the car. If you have a long car ride ahead, know if your child is more cranky before or after their nap and time the ride accordingly.
2) Pack snacks – Then pack more snacks. Nothing generates hunger like boredom. But use them when you absolutely need it. Bring water, fruit, crackers (of course any that don’t make too much of a mess).
3) Plan to stop – Even if nobody requests to stop, do it anyway. Take a bathroom break. Even if it’s 5 or 10 minutes. Get them to walk around, stretch, etc. Ok this one may be even more for me but it’s important for them too.
4) Play seeing or verbal games – We used to play alphabet all of the time as kids and still play with ours. If they are old enough, you look for signs that contain the letter and go through the alphabet.
5) Bring entertainment – Books to read coloring books, stuffed animal or action figured. While I’m not a big fan of occupying a child’s time with electronics, a long road trip may be the one time where rules go out the window. For short rides I don’t think it’s a good idea as they then don’t have the ability to entertain themselves. But for long trips, it may be an ipad or a movie that can pass some of the time. You will still want to limit too much screen time.
Audio stories – Instead of a movie, I really liked the idea of an audio book or story. This may they get to use more of their imagination. You can use a phone or even an mp3 player to find stories.
6) Rotate Seats – If you have more than one child, put them in different places halfway through the trip.
A plane requires primarily the same things with a few small differences
1) Schedule when they are their happiest. Unlike the car ride which is best scheduled around naps, I have found they don’t sleep on the plane. It’s too exciting. So we scheduled the trips in the early morning because my kids were always at their best in the mornings.
2) Give yourself some extra time – Airlines already require you to be there so early but with kids, it makes sense. Everything just takes a little longer.
3) While you can’t stop the plane, do still get up and walk around. You may even want to schedule this once an hour so you don’t get to the point when you have to do it.
4) Go nonstop – The least amount of travel time is preferred and their is only one takeoff for hurting ears. You’ll get to know your child. If you have to break it up into stops, then ok, but it was never my preference.
5) Bring lollipops or gum – They usually have problems with their ears so bring them something to suck on which will help their ears pop. This can be painful.
6) Have them sit near the window – The aisle can be a little dangerous with carts and people walking by.
7) Bring snacks that last – Raisins, goldfish, pretzels, grapes. Anything that can be eating one at a time and can take a long time to eat.
For you, meditate and get a good night’s sleep if you can/ Traveling with a toddler is not easy. You’ll want to be refreshed and ready to take it on so you are not stressed.