Tips and Must-Haves for Traveling with Toddlers

We are back! We took a long weekend road trip to Sedona, Arizona and got home late last night. It was so great to getaway as a family for a few days. As I mentioned on the blog before, my husband was gone for work for almost two months not too long ago, and then he returned only to work more long hours but at least he was home! So needless to say, we all really needed the family time away!

The weather was pure perfection in Arizona, 80s and not a cloud in the sky. We enjoyed three days of hikes, trolley rides, biking, and many hours spent at the pool. It was so fun to see how much the boys enjoyed the pool now that they are getting older. After four hours straight in the pool our last day, we had to drag our 3 1/2 year old out. He was shriveled like a prune, eyes all red, and looked at my husband and I and said “This was the best time ever! Thank you mom and dad!”. We both instantly knew that all the work that goes into a vacation with two toddlers was so worth it for that reaction. We really did have the nicest vacation, and believe it or not my husband and I feel rested. The pool is just such a great way to tire out two toddlers fast! I don’t think I have ever seen them so tired at the end of the day! It was a success in every way.

Now, traveling with two toddlers is a whole different thing. The 12 hour car drive with the boys posed the biggest challenge for us! We knew by air or road, the travel would be the trickiest part. While 12 hours has been the longest road trip we’ve attempted, we do an 8 hour road trip every summer. So we knew what we were up against, and tried to be as prepared as possible. I wanted to share some tips with you all on how to survive traveling with toddlers. And honestly like everything with kiddos it all comes down to preparation.

Tip #1 Schedule around naps/quiet time – Try to schedule your flights/road trip around nap/sleep schedules. Especially for flights, if you can get even an hour of shut-eye during a flight, it will make things so much easier. Of course, neither of my boys have ever even dreamed of sleeping on an airplane. Even on our almost four hour flights! But, we still schedule our flights so the boys are tired and that bouncing boy energy is at a minimum. For road trips, especially long ones, we have found it best to wake the boys up around 4/5 am and keep them in there pajamas and shuttle them to the car. They both go right back to bed for two or three hours and we are able to get a good bit of driving down while there is no traffic on the roads and the kids are quiet.

Tip #2 Be prepared – I know this one may seem obvious, but I have to admit I learned the hard way. Be prepared for anything! Like your toddler needing a complete clothing change just after you changed him into his spare set of clothes. It happened to us on our first flight with Brooks, and we literally had to find a shop in the Denver airport to grab him a new onesie. I thought bringing one would do the trick, but he proved me wrong. Especially for plane travel, it’s best to be prepared for delays. Be sure to bring extra  items that won’t be easy to track down in the airport or a rest stop along the way. Extra clothes, diapers, and wipes are our essentials. We went through two packs of wipes on this recent road trip. Between snack crumbs, spilled drinks, and diaper changes it was no joke! Think of what you really could not do without for 24 hours and bring those items… and extras.

Tip #3 Bring blankets – Not only to keep your toddlers warm in the car or airplane, but to set down in the bathroom for changing diapers. If you have a portable changing pad, that is ideal. Just make sure that whatever blanket you use to change your kiddo that you then stick it out of the way so it doesn’t mistakenly get used as the cuddle blanket!

Tip #4 Snacks, snacks, snacks – Talk to any mom who has recently traveled with toddlers, and they’ll tell you the one thing they couldn’t go without is snacks! There is nothing worse than a hungry toddler and no signs of a rest stop for 128 miles. Four hours into our road trip to Sedona my husband and I were saying thank goodness we brought a cooler with snacks and drinks. There were no places for stop for almost 6 hours! That would have gotten ugly fast had we not had snacks. Also, don’t forget about drinks! I throw in a few extra straw cups and big jug of water to refill their cups for the car. Fruit and veggie pouches are one of our absolute favorites for traveling both in the plane and the car. They don’t make a mess, are healthy, and fill our boys up every time. I bring a few thousand of them with us when we travel (seriously!). For more ideas on healthy on the go snacks for kids, see my post here.

Tip #5 Keep them busy – I have no guilt handing the boys a show to watch while we travel. I have an old suburban but we got lucky and for whatever reason it has a tv in it! It has been the best for long road trips. We grabbed a few new DVD’s for our recent road trip and the boys were mesmerized. For the airplane we always download new shows, and don’t forget your chargers! I also always bring stickers, coloring books, and a few random things I find in the $1 section at Target. This time I found a pack of mini-trucks for the boys to share and they kept the boys’ busy for hours! Pipe cleaners are also a good thing to throw in a bag for the plane. You can make bracelets, shapes, swords, and it is a quiet activity! And for fun, here are some more of my favorite things to keep our boys’ busy when traveling by plane or car.

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We always grab a few of these coloring books for trips. They are great for the airplane because they won’t make a mess and they are a quiet activity! I love these headphones for the car. By hour six, my husband and I were about to jump out the window if we heard “Oh toddles!” one more time. The boys put on their headphones, and we were all happy! I found these sticker books, when I was nursing Brody and trying to keep my 18 month old preoccupied. Two years later, and they both play with these all the time. They are reusable and great for imaginative play. These snack cups are a must for any road trip, just add snacks when your little one is ready! I always bring a book whether on the airplane or car for easy entertainment. What are your tips for traveling with toddlers? I would love to hear your tricks for smooth travel! As always, thanks for stopping by the blog today!

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Hi, I'm Jess. Soon to be mom of three and lover of all things decor and design. Follow along as we renovate our newly bought farmhouse one room at at time, and welcome baby #3. So happy you are here!


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