Many people ask how we travel so frequently with such small children and keep our sanity. Our response: Good Planning. Packing the right things will make your travel experiences so much more rich if you can get through the whole transportation routine avoiding tantrums.
The Kid Allergy Travel Family sticks to a few simple rules:
Contained & Compact activities only.
Traveling with toddlers is tough bc anything too small will fall off their work surface, potentially get lost and create frustration. See our 8 Must Haves for peaceful toddler travel below.
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Aren’t we the lucky generation that has handheld electronics to keep the wee ones entertained? We never leave home without a tablet plus a set of toddler sized headphones in fun colors. We also strongly recommend investing in a sturdy case like the Otterbox Defender iPad Case to resist the bumps and drops associated with kid travel. For headphones, we love Kidz Gear Wired Headphones because they are cost effective and just their size. We never want to make a significant investment in nice headphones at this stage. That will come later when they move in to the elementary school age bracket.
We load one new age appropriate app per trip to keep it exciting & fresh. Favorite toddler apps right now include anything by: Toca, Sago Mini, & Monkey Preschool. But don’t just stop there. Look to other small handheld electronic devices like those made by V-tech and LeapFrog: Phone, Laptop & electronic books. If you are on a long road trip, the need to change it up might be more necessary than you think.
Something to Read
Lift a Flap books will surprisingly keep them occupied on their own, as well as, give them some parent or older sibling attention just when they need it. We love the Spot the Dog Series as they are small in size and can come in paperback to make is easier to carry. Great travel topics too like Spot at the Museum, Spot Goes to the Park, Spot goes to the Farm. We also appreciate that they come in over 60 languages. You can choose a language appropriate book to get your toddler interested in your upcoming destination. Think French Spot the Dogs books for a Parisian Vacation or Spanish Spot the Dog when heading to visit Mayan Ruins, etc.
Something to Build
Do NOT make the rookie mistake of bringing Legos. The smaller the toy the greater the chance for tantrum. Even the Duplo variety require manipulation and small hands will drop them more times than you realize. Your back will thank you for not having to bend down 150 times over the course of that 4 hour flight to Puerto Rico. We recommend Bristle Blocks or Wikki Sticks instead. Also, minimize how many building toys you bring. My rule: it must fit in a sandwich sized ziplock bag or smaller. Anything greater will create more stress. You would be surprised at how long your kid can build contently with only 4-5 Bristle Blocks at his or her disposal.
Something to Color
Coloring books are a must. Our trick: bring triangle crayons only to lessen the rolling problem. Yes we love that Boogie Board too but remember the writing utensil is not attached. Better left at home for kids in this age group.
Something to Stick
We buy a new package of stickers every trip and a fun spiral notebook with empty pages. Make sure to order small flat sheet sets so they are easily portable. You will find that sticking instead of drawing is sometimes easier when small hands tire because of developing fine motor skills. Washi tape or colored Post It Notes work great here too.
Something to Nibble
Every parent knows to pack snacks that goes without question. But, what to do if you have multiple kids with different food restrictions or even preferences? Our tip: package in two different colored bags for easy identification during hurried travel. Choose one color per child and use it every time you travel. You can use the disposable colored plastic bags found at any grocery store or reusable snack bags if you are looking to conserve the environment and your hard earned dollar. Our favorite brands for reusable snack sacks are 1) Bumkins or 2) Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens. If you are going on a longer haul make sure to try one of our very favorite products, the bigger and sturdier Built Neoprene Flat Lunch Tote. Remember, if using public transportation like a plane, bus or train, be mindful of packing snacks with life threatening allergens like peanuts, almonds or cashews that could endanger others around you.
Something to Drink
Toddlers are very impulsive and always want to drink something when it isn’t convenient for mom or dad. I always bring a reusable sippy cup pre-filled halfway with a beverage of some sort. Our favorite portable toddler cups are Nuk Graduates Insulated Cup, CamelBak Kids Water Bottle, and Tomee Tippee Insulated Sipper Tumbler because they are lightweight, easy to clean and have gone through hundreds of dishwasher cycles and have yet to leak. This is very important when trying to keep colored liquid from leaking all over your favorite Tumi Women’s Voyageur Calais Backpack!
And yes, when airport traveling, I do dump before security if it is unconsumed. I just suck it up and spend $4 on that bottle of water once I clear security. Better to be prepared instead of having a toddler meltdown in the middle of shoving and pushing your way through the general boarding process at Southwest Airlines.
Interesting tip: if your child has a milk allergy, speak with security before dumping that prized soy, almond or cashew milk. My child refused to travel anywhere without soy milk in a sippy cup. I originally felt pressured to dump it but in desperation to avoid one of those tantrums I begged security for help. You know what? You can totally bring it through. They will test it similar to breast milk or formula in a bottle and will allow you to carry it in no problem.
Something to Wear
How many times have you been in an hour-long wait to get through the security line at an airport or clear customs in a foreign country only to hear “I need to go potty.” New toilet trainees have to go when they have to go and sometimes being en route they just can’t to hold it while you figure out what the Dutch word for male and female bathroom. I am a non Pull Up Parent and in doing so I have to live with the consequences. That means bring a change of clothes for BOTH you and your toddler. Many a time I have had my sweet toddler relieve himself mid run in my arms while trying to find the closest bathroom in a new environment. Do everyone a favor and just pack something just in case. Your future self will thank you so you won’t have to spend that 8 hour flight to Hawaii covered in pee. Tip: store soiled clothing in wet bags specially designed to hold moisture in. I lean on Bumkins again for my favorite brand in this wet bag space. Plus, you can always use them for wet swimsuits down the line!