Traveling with Kids Week: Toddler Travel

Traveling kids week continues. Yesterday was baby travel tips and today is about toddlers travel, perhaps the most challenging stage of all!

Amy Whitley of Pit Stops for Kids

When it comes to this age category, less is never more. In other words, the more distractions you have at your fingertips, the better your trip will be. We always pack a large canvas bag full of cheap thrills: dollar store stickers and toys, coloring books, Wikki Stix, plastic animals and bugs, and snacks. If these inexpensive toys drop under the seat or get left behind at a restaurant, no worries (you have another stash for the return trip!). And don’t forget to make frequent pit stops to keep your little one from getting too squirmy!

Jody of Family Rambling

Always bring along an extra outfit or two. Kids clothes don’t take up much room and you’ll be glad you did! Also, if our trip involves an overnight stay in a hotel I pack a “hotel suitcase” that contains what we need for that night so I don’t have to unpack all our trip clothes and repack the next morning.

Jen of The Vacation Gals

The Vacation Gals recommend that families who travel by air buy or rent a CARES airplane child harness for their toddlers. Significantly less bulky than a car seat, the CARES (it stands for Child Aviation Restraint System) child harness is easy to pack and unpack from carry on luggage. It weighs less than a pound and is really easy to use.

It’s also a safe alternative to the potential dangers of turbulence for a lap child.For families that need to bring a car seat for their trip, consider checking it at the airport (to save the annoyance of lugging it from check in counter to gate) or renting one at the vacation destination. No one likes to ruminate on the things that can go wrong in-flight during a vacation. Investing in a airplane child harness like CARES assures one less thing to worry about.

Garima of Mommy in Making

Eat smaller meals, snacks, are okay. They will not be on a schedule on vacation so just ensure to keep them well fed! Try flights and drives around nap times – this will result in less cranky time.

Tésa of 2 Wired 2 Tired

We always bring our Leapfrog Tag pens for our road trips. My two preschoolers love listening to the stories and playing games provided in the Leapfrog books and pens. Not only are they having fun, but it’s educational too!

When traveling on the road with preschoolers I stop at the local library before we leave. I try to make this stop alone, so the books I pick out for the kids will be a surprise on the road and help them pass the time.

When our road trip seems to be dragging and my two preschoolers are getting restless, I will swing into McDonald’s to pick up some Apple Dippers. The change of pace and scenery, as well as having something new to munch on always seems to help us get through the last leg of our trip.

Adriana, Mom of Dorian age 2

My secret weapon is a portable DVD player with his favorite movie. Even if I forget his favorite toy, with the DVD player everything is right in the world.

Carin, Mom of Rex age 4

Pack a back pack with activities and toys (dollar store) and snacks. Wrap things individually so they spend time opening too. Do not open until you are on the plane.

Eunice of Random Walk Down Mommy Street

– Pack a new book or activity book that they can get into on the plane.

– Consider traveling in pajamas for long plane rides for their comfort.

– DVD player/laptop/ipod with their favorite shows or maybe even a new DVD.

– For road trips-take a portable potty with you since you don’t know when they will have to go and the nearest exit might be 40 miles away.

Relevant Links:

Toddlers travel tips – plane activity suggestions and ideas

Traveling with kids week: baby travel tips

Tips for flying overseas with babies

Ciao Bambino family travel destinations

Things to know about the best hotel and resort kids’ clubs

Start a Discussion

  • @Rachel. We posted your note on our Facebook page ( and we’re crossing our fingers that an experienced parent has some great advice for you! Please check there for responses. We also traveled from LA to Paris this summer with a 5 y/o and the best advice (and it was painful for all of us) we got was to not let her nap or go to bed early on the first couple of days. It did work but she was still grumpy on day 4. Running the kids around in the park helped alot as well. -kristi

  • We are in Berlin for the next three months on business. We are residents of Los Angeles and are dealing with a nine hour time difference. We have traveled with our wonderful 4 year old son and here we are, on day 7, and he is STILL not sleeping. He doesn’t seem to get tired until about 3am. I really don’t know what to do. He isn’t napping for more then an hour and a half and has been getting up at around 11am. Any advice for helping us get over the time difference? I am sleep deprived and out of ideas.
    Rachel : )

  • @bas. In the US we call the “fences” bed rails – these attach to a regular bed and that is what many people use on vacation. carries the most common type of bed rails that we use here. However, I have not heard of the camping bed you are talking about but it is possible that a baby equipment rental company in the Yellowstone area has something similiar or can rent you the bed rails. We have a list of baby equipment rental companies under Family Travel Services – you could email one of them or call your Yellowstone hotel and ask for a baby equipment rental referral. Enjoy your vacation – Yellowstone is a gorgeous place to visit.

  • Hi,
    In september we’re visiting the US (Yellowstone). Our son (20 months) is too tall for a crib but needs an bed with “fences”. Hope you know what I mean. In Holland you can buy a so called camping bed. A bed that’s about 4feet long, with fences and you can easely take with you. We don’t want to take our camping bed from Holland but buy one in the US but can’t find it. Where do kids sleep when caming or on vacation? Doe you have something like a “camping bed” en where can I find it? Hope you can help me.

  • We travel in jammies for long plane rides too. Usually we take them with us in the carry on if we have room that way when we are trying to get the kids to calm down, we can start an abbreviated routine similar to bedtime at home!

  • Some great suggestions here! I like ‘travelling in pj’s’ – great tip!
    We’ve found that travel with our 2 & 4 year old is great fun if you don’t over plan or over program your time away. Just go with the flow. It’s a great time to just simply be together so don’t make plans to visit lots of attractions, museums or shops.
    We travel by car quite often and have never used a dvd player for the girls. We sing songs, read stories, make lots of stops, listen to music and we talk and talk and talk. And pack loads of healthy snacks that don’t make big messes!

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