Ella and I took her first international trip when she was just one year old, so I’ve learned a thing or two about traveling with toddlers – but, just to be safe, I reached out to some of my fellow travel moms for their best Mom Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and today I’m sharing the best with you!
Tips For Traveling with a Toddler
As if being a mom doesn’t have its challenges on an ordinary day, adding travelling to the mix can be a headache if unprepared.
There are already tons of helpful (and hope-filled) tips out there to help send you and your bear cubs off on your grand adventure, but I thought these unique hacks were worth adding to your repertoire. Let’s hope they alleviate some of your anxiety about travelling with your littles. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be fine!
(And who knows, you might even want to travel more after incorporating some of these babies!)
I’ve been travelling with my daughter since she was a baby so I want to assure you that it gets easier as both you and the kids have more experience under your belts. My daughter knows our airport routine, I’ve learned what things make travelling easier and which just take up space in our suitcase (we actually only travel with a single carry-on now!).
BUY A SPORTS WATER BOTTLE
Yup, you read it right. Buy a sports water bottle, girlfriend!
If you’re flying with an infant, buying a sports bottle of water after you’ve passed through the airport security check will help you make bottles much more efficiently during your flight, and easily refill a sippy cup too. (And if you’re not formula feeding, that water bottle will be perfect for restoring your own hydration levels.)
If you don’t want to buy one, pack an empty one to fill up later – our favorite are these O2 Cool Mist waterbottles, especially if you’re heading somewhere hot!
Without ever having to put the airplane seat tray down in front of you, you can just squeeze the water in a baby bottle, add formula and shake. When the flight attendant asks if you’d like a drink, you can refill the bottle with a couple of the cups they offer.
As a bonus, letting kids sip on a bottle (or nurse) during take-off can help relieve the pressure that causes that uncomfortable “ear pop.”
WEAR A METAL-LESS BABY CARRIER
Using a baby carrier in the airport is awesome for keeping your hands-free while in transit. Using a baby carrier without metal clips, however, is a total game changer! Because we’re required to remove all external metal accessories during the airport security check, wearing a baby carrier that doesn’t have metal is such a relief.
My ERGO is my favorite carrier – it’s super comfy for both baby and parent, and I was able to use it for hiking with my daughter until she was almost five!
You can forget about unstrapping, juggling baby, and re-strapping (although it really depends on the agent you get). It’s worth the splurge before your trip and you’ll probably get a lot of use out of it at your final destination, as well. Walk through with your head held high. No metal, no problem!
BOOK WITH AIRBNB
Whether you have one, two, or 3+ kids, and are travelling via plane, train, or automobile, Airbnb is a hack that will save you money and likely make for a much more enjoyable trip!
Skip the costly hotels and browse homes that best meet the needs of your family. They even have some kid-friendly abodes that are really cool too!
The kiddos can enjoy the introduction of new toys at no additional cost to you. You can stop by your destination’s local grocer, create a fun travel meal plan, save on dining out by cooking meals away from home. These savings will allow your family to spend more on exploring your destination. Need I say more?
(At the very least, trying to find hotels with kitchenettes is smart.)
MARK BAGS AS “FRAGILE”
Now this hack is for any and all – but let’s just hope any and all don’t use it, lest the TSA catch on to us!
To assure your precious cargo is handled with care, mark your bags as “FRAGILE” so that they are loaded on top in the plane’s storage compartment, which serves the double bonus of also expediting your wait at baggage claim. Woot Woot!
You and the kiddies will be off to enjoy your vacation in no time! Sure, marking all the bags is one more thing to do amongst your long list of things to do, but we’re delaying gratification here. Can you say VIP? Every mama has got time for that!
FREEZE YOUR DRINKS
You are going to love the savings that come with this one! So apparently, according to TSA, as long as your drink is solid as a rock and hasn’t started melting when you go through airport security, it’s all good to take on your flight in your carry on! Say whaaaat?! Yup! This hack works especially well for longer flights and layovers, but it also helps keep drinks cool on the road as well.
If you or the kids get thirsty and can’t wait to chug a lug, just run your bottle under hot water in the bathroom or order a cup of free hot water at one of the airport restaurants to jumpstart the melting process. Now your only problem is trying to remember to take the drinks out of the freezer before heading out the door! Good luck with that one!
MAKE EDIBLE NECKLACES
The night before your trip, delegate a fun task to the kids that they’ll love!
Have them create edible necklaces to wear while travelling. Not only is it a fun craft to keep them occupied while you try to get everything else done, but it gives them some responsibility in the preparation process. Some great options are cheerios, pretzels, fruit loops, and if you dare, gummy life savers!
(Older kids can also help pick 2-3 things to pack to entertain themselves in the airport, on the plane, and at the hotel.)
When planning your trip and browsing for flights, hotels, and rental cars, clear your browsing data and go incognito for private searching to prevent travel sites from tracking your whereabouts, and obtaining your search history to rig pricing.
No wonder all the flights were the same price regardless of what site you searched! This way, you’re one step ahead of the game and have a better chance of finding the best legitimate rate, and I’m not talking Spirit Airlines.
RESEARCH CREDIT CARD INSURANCE
Many reward credit cards offer varying rental car insurance coverage. Who knew?! They work in conjunction with your primary auto insurance, picking up any slack if needed in the event of a collision or damage to your rental. Depending on which card you pay with when renting, you could potentially save little or lots (and lets you turn down the rental company’s pricey insurance).
Also, I found out that booking flights and travel excursions with my credit card gave me cancellation insurance over and above what the airlines offered – and since my credit card is through my bank, they gave me a great rate on travel health insurance.
It pays to do a little research on your card policies before your trip to see which is the best choice. Let’s hope you don’t need any of that insurance at all. But if you do, this hack could be a life saver!
ROLL YOUR CLOTHES
This one is pretty well known, but I’ll say it any way juuust in case.
If you’re still folding your clothes and not rolling with the rest of us, it’s time for you to get with the times! You can save much more space in your bag, and even take a smaller one by using this handy packing technique. If travelling is something you and your family plan to do often, learning how to efficiently roll your outfits and prevent wrinkles is a must!
(And for more packing tips, check out my post on how we travel with just a carry-on!)
A BACKPACK OF PRESENTS!
Ever since my daughter’s first 6 hour train ride (that turned into 8 hours…) I have used some variation of this hack and it has worked wonders.
I fill a small backpack with mostly new books and activities for my daughter. When she was younger it would be new board books, stickers and a sticker book, a couple fun snacks, a tub of play dough, etc. Now that she’s older, I usually add something like silly putty or a small (self-contained) craft kit. One thing that I’ve always included and it’s still such a hit is pipecleaners! She has always loved making little bracelets, sculptures, etc, and they are super compact.
When she was younger I would wrap each “present” to help build the excitement (and also prevent her from seeing what the other items in the bag were) but now that she’s older I don’t wrap them yet they still offer the same excitement.
AND BONUS TIP: STROLLER CADDY
Whenever people see me doing this hack they comment on how brilliant it is – and I’ve stopped to show many families how to do it to make their airport walks a bit easier.
If you need to bring your stroller through the airport, have it work double time by placing your child in the seat and then hooking the handles of your carry-on on the stroller handles and then adjusting the suitcases to roll smoothly (whether straight up or at an angle).
Then, gate check the stroller so it’s ready and waiting for you the minute you get off your flight.