10 Travel Tips for Babies and Toddlers

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By Colleen Lanin

My preschooler daughter and toddler son have logged many hours miles on airplanes and road trips and have spent many nights in hotels during their short lives. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to keep little ones happy while away from home.

Here are 10 key tips I think they would have told me as babies if they could:

1. I need time to crawl or run around every day. I don’t mind being pushed in a stroller through a museum or two, but afterwards I need to be free!

2. Healthy snacks, educational toys, and books will entertain me for awhile but I may start to go bananas toward the end of a long trip car trip or flight. I will not be scarred for life if you give me a few “forbidden snacks” or if you let me watch a baby-friendly movie on a travel DVD player.

3. Long drives in the car might make me queasy. Bring along a bucket on road trips and keep it within arms reach to avoid icky messes.

4. I will probably not sleep as well on vacation as I do at home. It’s your job to keep my bedtime routine intact. Bring along my beloved stuffed rabbit, read me my favorite stories, and give me a nighttime bath just like we do at home.

5. I don’t want to wait to eat a sit-down breakfast at a restaurant in the morning. By the time you are done primping and we are out the door, I will be in the midst of a serious hunger-induced meltdown. Stock up on my favorite breakfast items so we can eat in the room instead!

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6. There’s a good chance I’ll get sick while traveling because we’re going to visit a lot of germy places where I’ll want to touch everything and then suck on my fingers. Pack a thermometer and any medicines I might need. If I wake up in the middle of the night with a raging fever, I need to cared for right away.

7. I make friends easier than you do. Take me to a local park and let me introduce you to some local children and their parents.

8. There are just so many new sites, sounds, and smells I can take in before I get totally overwhelmed and freak out. I need downtime. Let’s do something mellow after a crazy day of site-seeing.

9. Go ahead and make all of your plans for our vacation but know this: I have my own plans and I am a stubborn little sucker. You will need to adjust to meet my needs!

10. I want to take time to explore every little thing in my path. Rather than trying to hurry me along and cram fun into our vacation, slow down to enjoy seeing the world anew through my eyes.

Colleen Lanin is the creator and editor of TravelMamas.com, a site for parents who want to travel with children…and stay sane! She is a freelance writer and author of the upcoming book, The Travel Mamas’ Guide. She has written articles for such magazines as Babytalk, San Diego Family, and 101 Things To Do San Diego. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two children. You can follow her on Twitter at @TravelMamas.

What one mom figured out through trial and error.

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