The holiday season has officially begun, ushering in the most hectic and exciting time of the year. This is especially true for parents of babies and toddlers, who not only have to face the usual stress of holiday shopping and traveling but do it all with a toddler to tow. If you’re traveling this holiday season, you’re going to want to know how to make the experience as stress-free as possible and allow your toddler to have a wonderful holiday season. Here are our top 8 tips for holiday traveling with a toddler.
1: Avoid Busy Travel Days
If you’re new to traveling with a toddler, you may be planning to head to the airport the day before Christmas or Thanksgiving. But while it may not be the most convenient for your work schedule, avoiding busy travel days can massively cut down on stress. Toddlers are easily overstimulated by large crowds and unfamiliar situations, so traveling on the busiest days of the year is a recipe for a cranky toddler and a stress-filled holiday.
2: Choose Flight Times that Work
Though airlines are still offering fewer options for flights due to understaffing, you still have some control over when you fly, and choosing a flight time for when your toddler is at their happiest will save you a world of stress. Morning flights will catch your toddler when they’re well-rested and at their happiest. If you know that you have a toddler who is able to sleep anywhere, an overnight or afternoon flight might work as well, since your toddler will give you a break by sleeping.
3: Pack Only Essentials
With a toddler to entertain and keep an eye on, you’ll have enough to worry about. Try to keep your luggage down to carry on bags or, if necessary, a carry-on and a checked bag. If you’re staying with family or friends, check with them beforehand to see if you can leave the playpen, stroller, or car seat at home. Also, keep in mind what you will easily be able to purchase once you get to your destination - you’ll probably only need a few diapers, not an entire box.
4: Travel by Car if Possible
Airplane travel, with its long wait times, lines, and layovers, is far from ideal for most toddlers. Avoiding the airport altogether is probably the ideal situation. Not only will your toddler be more comfortable in a car with a car seat headrest such as NapUp, traveling by car gives you more flexibility for rest stops and will ensure that you don’t have to worry about baggage allowances.
5: Pack Your Snow Clothes
No toddler will want to be cooped up in a house with people who may be unfamiliar to them. Pack for this eventuality by adding snow pants and boots to your luggage if possible. Making sure that your toddler will be able to escape the house and get their energy out will make the holidays much less stressful for everyone involved.
6: Stick to Sleep Schedules
Toddlers are balls of energy at the best of times, and being in an unfamiliar, exciting place with fun new people may make it difficult to keep to napping and bedtime schedules. Make an effort to stick to your toddler’s established routine, even if they’re having difficulty calming down and sleeping in an unfamiliar place.
7: Baby Proof if Needed
Not every place is as tailored to toddlers as your house has probably become. When you get to your hotel or the house you’ll be staying at, do a quick survey to make sure that some basic baby proofing is in place. Are all cleaning fluids out of reach or in locked cabinets? If there are stairs, is a baby gate available? Once you’ve determined this, baby proof where you can and keep an extra careful eye on your toddler.
8: Find Ways to Include Your Toddler
If there aren’t any cousins or other children around, your toddler may become bored or feel left out from the festivities. Make sure that you’re finding ways to include your toddler in the holidays. Have that catch-up conversation while playing with your toddler or get the uncles involved in a game of hide and seek. It doesn’t have to be complicated - most toddlers just want some playtime and attention from the adults around.