Toddler Travel Tips


Last weekend we traveled up to Boston to visit family and had our first stress free travel morning. Some background. Since C. was born nearly four years ago, we’ve been learning how to travel with a young child – and a couple years later – two young children. You all know… it’s not easy. The “cost of entry” (as I like to call it) for an overnight is the same as for a two week vacation. You need a lot of gear. Without fail, we forget a crucial piece such as the monitor, crib sheet, white noise, or this time, C.’s winter jacket. Without fail, we manage to survive.

The hardest part of our stressful departure morning, however, is not gathering all the gear, per se. It’s that my husband and I are usually ready to kill each other by the time we leave (for this long awaited trip or vacation.) We know why it’s stressful to get out of the house with two young kids and all the gear, we laugh about it (later), but until this weekend, we couldn’t seem to make it go more smoothly.

So, here’s what worked this time. First, and I think most important, I packed for the kids and myself the day before and laid out our travel clothes. This gave me relaxed, adequate time to think about what we’d need (well, except the missing winter coat) and even made for a fun activity as the children got excited to visit their aunt and cousin. Next, I made a list of the gear we’d need to put in the car the next morning (this usually falls to my husband). This list also included last minute critical items such as “blankie.”

The next morning was so enjoyable we felt like we were already on vacation. I didn’t have to worry about what to pack for myself (which I usually leave until the last minute even if I pack the kids ahead of time) and could shower and get dressed in a much shorter period. And, to top it off, instead of trying to keep the kids from watching much TV since they would watch movies on the portable DVD during the long drive, I suggested they watch TV while we get ready. This was huge. It’s very difficult to take time out to pack or get ready, clean up and check lights, heat, etc. in the house when the kids are running around excited to leave. One of my smarter moves (you’ve probably been doing this all along…)

So, in summary, here are some tips for a less stressful departure on your next trip with young kids:

  1. Pack clothes for everyone ahead of time (at least Mom and the kids)
  2. Lay out clothes for travel
  3. Make a check list of what to put in the car the next morning including:
  • Blankies and loveys
  • Two types of coats for various weather
  • Hats and mittens, if necessary
  • Two types of boots/shoes for various weather
  • Baby Monitor
  • Pack and play with crib sheet
  • White noise machine or radio
  • Pampers and wipes (for travel and the trip)
  • Stroller
  • Booster seat
  • Sleeping bag, if necessary
  • Books for travel and bedtime
  • Snacks and drinks for travel

Longer trips (to condos, hotels, etc.)

  • Outlet covers
  • Nightlight
  • Small flashlight
  • Extra plastic grocery bags (for easy dirty diaper disposal)

Anything else? Submit a comment if you have more ideas.

Happy Travels!

Leave a Reply