Traveling with kids is much more fun when everyone is well-prepared for the adventure; this means packing the right items, making sure there are enough activities to keep the kids busy, and keeping everyone's safety in mind. Whether you're planning a short weekend getaway or a few weeks on a family vacation, here are some simple tips for traveling with a toddler:
1. Car seats, baby carriers, strollers, and booster seats. Making sure you have a safe car seat, a stroller and booster seats available, will make it much easier to travel to different venues with your toddler. Car seats can ensure a safe drive, while your own collapsible stroller will make it simple to tour and visit different areas without having to rent equipment. Leave room in your car to pack the stroller easily, and take along a booster seat if you have some extra space. You may also want to bring a sling or baby carrier to reduce the amount of gear to pack if your child is not too heavy for you to carry. Most slings can support a child up to 35 lbs. Check with your sling's/carrier's manufacturer for details.
2. Comfortable clothing. The right outfit for the day of traveling is important, since you want your toddler to be comfortable and enjoy the experience. Light-colored clothing works best, especially if you're traveling to a warmer climate. You'll want to pack at least two outfits for the days you'll be traveling on the road or in an airplane, as your toddler may spill food and drinks on their clothes and that will require an outfit change.
3. Diaper bags and accessories. You'll need a place to store those extra diaper bags, toys, videos, snacks, and clothing, so that everything is within easy reach. If you are traveling by car or van, pick up an organizer bag that you can just hang over the car seat, or a tote-style box/organizer that you can slip into the trunk of the car.
4. Puzzles and games. Puzzles and games will keep your toddler and kids busy during those very long travel times, so make sure you're taking along a tote bag of their favorite toys, coloring books, and games. Games don't have to contain lots of pieces when you're on the road - think about simple activities such as coloring books with crayons, picture books, and activity books that will keep them occupied. You also may want to create a surprise bag of little games/treats for each hour/certain number of miles passed. This keeps them entertained and wondering what will come next.
5. DVDs and media activities. A portable DVD player, an iPod, or just a simple CD player are other activities that can keep your toddler and kids occupied on a long trip. Rent some of their favorite movies for the DVD player, or just pick up some fun books on tape for them to listen to. These activities can keep kids busy for a few hours, and are especially valuable for those extra-long trips.
6. Snacks and food. Taking along enough snacks is essential when traveling with kids, especially since you don't want to waste lots of money on food and snacks along the way. Packing your own snacks and food will also ensure that your kids can eat healthy when traveling, so think of simple and tasty snacks the whole family can enjoy. Fruit wedges, granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, and even homemade trail mix are great foods for traveling, and can make long hours of traveling much more fun.
7. Immunizations and medical records. If you're traveling out of the country, you'll need to have your kids immunized against various diseases and conditions, but you'll also want to have everyone get a health checkup before leaving and upon your return. Make an appointment with the doctor or physician at least two to three weeks before your travel dates, so that everyone can enjoy the trip in the best of health.
8. Passports, visas, and identity cards. Make sure you have all of the paperwork and materials you will need for your travel plans well ahead of time, and pack all of these in a separate case for easy access. All of your personal records need to be in an easily accessible place in case of emergency, so be sure to make a place for these and keep them on close-at-hand during your trip.
Whether you're traveling on a long road trip or taking an airplane ride with your kids, making sure they are comfortable, safe, and enjoying the experience should be a top priority. Stay organized and plan ahead, using all of these simple strategies, so that you can deliver a fun vacation the whole family will enjoy!