Travel with toddlers can be fun? YES! For most new parents, the thought of traveling with tiny humans is intimidating. But starting a family is no reason to stop seeing the world.
Family travel can actually be a great experience for everyone. It opens up the world for adventure, gives parents a break from the daily grind, and provides everyone a chance to connect.
We caught up with Daniel Sherwin, a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other parents (single dads and otherwise) with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood. The following are his top three tips for travel with toddlers.
Traveling as a family is all about compromise. Parents, you might not get that wild night on the town — but you get a chance to see see the world from innocent eyes. Your toddler will want to explore everything and will see things we, as adults, would walk right past.
Travel with toddlers is also about planning ahead. No more flying by the seat of your pants — you have nap schedules and bedtimes to adhere to. As you prepare for your next family adventure, take these three planning tips into account.
Maintain Your Routines
During the week, you’re a pro at getting the kids bathed, dressed, entertained, and out the door. Keep that momentum going on vacation by sticking to your family’s normal schedule. Maintaining a predictable schedule on vacation keeps kids from getting cranky due to changes in their sleeping and eating schedules.
If you’re crossing time zones and will be gone more than a week, start changing your kids’ schedules a few days before you depart. That way, you can minimize jet lag on vacation. For more tips on changing time zones with kids, check out advice from Family Vacation Critic.
Have a Schedule — But Adjust Your Expectations
Don’t count on managing a family in a hotel room and planning a day’s activities at the same time. Plan your itinerary ahead of time so all you have to do is glance at your schedule and go. Keep in mind that traveling with kids means you won’t see as much as you did while traveling as a couple. Between planning for naps, snack breaks, and bathroom stops, there’s simply not as much time in the day.
To keep your schedule manageable, plan a max of two activities each day. Give yourself plenty of wiggle room so you’re not rushing around. Include big activities, like going to a festival or sports game, and low-key ones, like stopping by a park or exploring a historic neighborhood.
If you’re on-the-go with a child from one to about three, follow Condé Nast Traveler’s suggestion and find somewhere with plenty of activities, such as a water park.
Know Your Sleeping Arrangements
When kids get cranky, you won’t want to waste time getting back to your hotel room. Travel with toddlers means making sure you’re prepared for your arrangements ahead of time. Book accommodations with plenty of room for the whole family. Which is right for you? Some considerations here.
Most parents prefer hotel suites or vacation rentals so the kids can sleep in one area while the parents stay up. If you opt for a hotel, request a room at the end of a hallway so you have minimal outside noise. A travel crib or pack ‘n play is a perfect solution for this; portable and compact, travel cribs are easy to erect in tight spaces. Even if a hotel provides a crib, it’s better to have the peace of mind of knowing your crib is always clean, safe and available for your little one.
This is hardly all that goes into traveling successfully with the smallest members of your crew. However, when you follow these three tips, you’ll have a strong foundation for a trip the whole family will enjoy.
One last word of advice: Bring snacks. Lots of them. And not the melty kind.