For many parents of toddlers, traveling to the grocery store with them is enough to bring on a feeling of dread, let alone making the long journey to visit grandma and grandpa this holiday season. If you’re going to be traveling with your little one this year, try these tips to make the trip as pleasant as possible for all concerned.
Give Them Their ‘Space’
1. If it’s at all possible, buy your child his or her own seat on the plane. Although most airlines allow children under 2 to ride on a parents lap for a greatly reduced fee, buying your child a seat will cut down significantly on your stress. Seating is tight on a plane and trying to control a wriggly toddler in such cramped quarters can send your blood pressure through the roof (not to mention the stress of seeing the pained looks on the faces of those seated next to you.) Even if your child spends the whole trip on your lap, you’ll still benefit from the extra elbow room. Many parents also find that bringing an FAA approved car seat on the plane helps their child feel more secure and able to settle down.
Bring Along Some Familiarity
2. Bring familiar food and drinks along to make sure your child eats well. While some children will eagerly dig into new foods with relish, for others, their natural pickiness is exacerbated in unfamiliar surroundings, resulting in a hungry, cranky child. It can also help to have snacks on hand in case of travel delays or tight time-lines. Do remember to encourage your child to eat every few hours to avoid hunger related tantrums and meltdowns. On the same note, you’ll be much more patient and relaxed if you keep yourself fed and hydrated!
3. Pack a few favorite toys and a few surprises to keep your child occupied. Crayons, stickers and a sketch pad can provide hours of fun in a confined space. A skills board or doll with zips, laces and buckles can also keep little fingers and minds engrossed. Older toddlers will enjoy travel versions of bingo and memory to play with mom or dad.
4. Talk to your child about the trip so that they know what to expect. Going on a long journey via plane can be very exciting for a toddler – and scary too! Read books about traveling on a plane and show your child pictures of airplanes and airports. Let them know what will happen at the security checkpoints so that they aren’t alarmed by the guards and machines.
Plan for Contingencies
5. Pack a carry on for your child with extra clothes, diapers, wipes and any medications or medical supplies that they need. You want to be sure to have enough on hand for at least one or two nights should your luggage get lost. A fun choice is the Trunki rolling overnight bag for kids also doubles as a ride on and can be decorated with stickers. A lightweight stroller that can be gate-checked or a harness can come in handy for moving toddlers through a crowded airport quickly or for keeping a runner at your side.
6. Always remember that even if your toddler pitches a fit or cries the entire trip or blows through three changes of clothes that this is ultimately just a few hours out of your life. You will both get through this and in the long run it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things. Do your best to keep your child happy, quiet and occupied during the trip but if things don’t quite work out, know that it’s just a part of life and move on.