It has to be said that if you’ve got kids that are able to walk and talk but are still under five years of age then you’ll certainly going to know about it as, from a ransacked home to sleepless nights, this can be one of the most trying times in a parent’s life.
Sometimes the thought of leaving the house is far too horrific to contemplate so imagine how it feels when you’re faced with travelling further afield than just the local shops?
Take it from me, I’ve flown to Australia, Malaysia and America with my kids who are both still under four and if you’re looking for a few helpful tips and some advice on travelling with toddlers then read on and keep smiling!
As most parents have no doubt experienced at one stage or another, kids and cars can be a match made in heaven especially when it comes to getting them off to sleep however, on many other occasions, car travel and toddlers is the best means of undertaking the highway to hell. Best advice is to always have a few essentials to hand i.e. snacks, wipes and water as you never know when silence will be interrupted with screaming. Ensuring favourite toys, snack pots and other desired objects are attached to toddler car seat is a great means of making sure they can’t be thrown, dropped or lost which would inevitably lead to an ‘I want’ tantrum. Long journeys – break them up with toilet, snack and stretch your legs breaks if it not particularity needed.
In the air
This is definitely one of those modes of transport that is viewed with the most fear by first-time toddler travellers. The reality probably couldn’t be further from the truth as you can get up and walk down aisles as well as having a fair bit of space for making a nest, reading and playing games. Best advice for long haul is to ration out treats on an hourly basis to break up the journey. Better yet is to wrap each treat (food, game, toy) so as to elongate the experience and tick off a few minutes of air time. If your young one does manage to get some sleep then make sure you do too as this is a key ingredient to managing your patience levels and rebuilding your body’s much needed energy supplies. Top tip: There are so many things to look out for when at the airport and ensuring your child gets plenty of exercise by running around in a controlled manner is often the key to helping them get sleepy on the plane.
Walking with toddlers can be an absolutely wonderful affair but only if you’re prepared to take it at their pace or ensure you have sufficient transport at your disposal when they need to be picked up and carried. Back pack carriers are excellent if your child’s not to wriggly and can fit down quite small so as to stow away if you’re planning on doing some walking during family adventure holidays abroad. Strollers or buggies are obviously great chariots when it comes to road or path walking but when met with a style or muddy bog, they can turn into more of a hindrance than a help. If you’re prepared to get muddy yourself and build up your muscles then carry whenever asked as it won’t be long before your kid will be all grown up and carry me daddy moments will no longer exist. Best advice: start off small and build up the miles. National Trust properties are great for following path ways so ideal for prams but just remember that little legs get tired quickly so don’t chastise too much if they can’t keep up.
Easier than in a car but nonetheless problematic as fellow passengers may not be best pleased with your toddler’s attempts at scaling the seat or smashing the shared table. Go in big and go in bold is definitely the best way to fend off the fidgets and filling a bag with all manner of snacks, drinks, books, games and favourite toys is always going to be your best bet. Kids love stickers and if you can keep them occupied with a few new books then half the battle will be won, at least for about 5 minutes. I-Spy, window watch and counting in the carriage are all tried and tested classic games to play on a train and if they fancy a little explore then why not, just don’t forget where you put your bags and make sure you have enough time to return to your seat prior to pulling into your destination.
In many ways this is the ultimate in travelling with toddlers nightmare scenarios as there’s nowhere for them to run and very little in the way of things to do in such a confined space whilst surrounded by angst-ridden fellow passengers. If you have to take the coach then try to prepare for comfort by bringing as many familiar and cosy objects from home as possible. Build a nest and keep them awake until they clamber on-board as getting them off to sleep for as much of the journey as possible is the key to success. If you have a phone or hand-held device that plays games then use it ahead of books as reading can often cause motion sickness for you and for your ward. Look out the window, get some peel on peel off stickers and make a tick off crib sheet for what you’d expect to find en-route to your destination.
Chris has just returned from a weekend of walking with his two toddlers in East Sussex. Next time he will listen to his wife and take the ‘over the shoulder toddler holder’.