5 ways to stay sane when you travel on a summer holiday with toddlers

Mr. Jerry Seinfeld couldn’t have been more right when he said, “Having a 2-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.” Now imagine you carrying this running, lidless blender on vacation. Sounds nightmarish? Well, that’s how vacationing with toddlers can turn into.

I always feel travelling with the kids in their toddler years is challenging. They have unsteady feet, limited vocabulary, a mind of their own and an uncanny ability to have a meltdown when you least expect it. This deadly combination could well throw a wet blanket on your holiday plans but if you’re prepared enough, vacationing with toddlers can be a smooth experience. Here’s how you can enjoy your summer holiday with the tiny tots and not lose your sanity.

Preemptive packing, preemptive planning

When packing, always think forward. Refrain from wondering, ‘I won’t need an extra diaper in the bag if he finishes potty before the flight’, or ‘she won’t throw up in the car, I’ll carry the exact number of clothes.’ Toddlers have impeccable levels of timing and unpredictability while on holiday. They key is to assume the worst and be prepared. If you’re travelling to a remote place, carrying things like medicines and toiletries are a must even if you may not end up using them. Having a checklist plus a reserves list always helped me. Then you’re rest assured you’ve packed the extras as tick off the items.

While planning, preferably chose a travel time when your toddler naps (though I cannot guarantee he will). If you’re booking a hotel, one having some play/running space usually helps them let off steam and you retain yours.

The entertainment package

Keeping your bub engaged during holiday is important if you do not want her to keep whining away in boredom. Carry along a mix of old favourites and few new handy toys for entertainment. Wooden toys, puzzles, board books, crayons & paper and sticker books can give you ten-minute breathers, especially on flights. Toys can be pulled out during your stay too. Sometimes toys just don’t work, then go creative with things like the air sickness bag, the tray table etc. in the flight. I pads or phones could also work, but I would keep that as a last resort. You could also try talking to your kid or singing. On one such flight, the only thing that calmed my screaming toddler was a song that I made up. It was called, “This too shall pass.” Funnily, I liked it more than him.

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Food, food more food

Travelling with a hungry toddler is plain dangerous. Even if your toddler is well fed before any commute, carry snacks such as biscuits, fruits, bread sticks, water, raisins, tea cakes etc. on you. Domestic flights should allow you these and more if you make a, ‘I-have-a-monster-toddler-to-feed’ face. You could also pack small tetra packs of milk (if available) and some cereal (homemade or otherwise) into your check in bags. Depending on room service is a wrong thing to do, especially if you’re camping in a sleepy town where hotel staff comes to work at 11am. In restaurants, avoid raw food and stick to simply cooked familiar ingredients to feed your fussy eater. Don’t force your little one to eat beyond a point, just remember, we’re trying to preserve sanity here.

Que sera sera

What will be, will be. Schedules are rarely maintained on holiday, so it’s ok not to stress on them. A new place may unsettle your toddler’s schedule and this will get back to normalcy. As long as your child has had enough sleep and a reasonable amount of food, let him be and enjoy your vacation. Do not attempt hazardous stunts like trying to potty train him on holiday, they usually don’t work. If he wakes you up more often at night, then you have all the more reason to wake up late and pull the husband into babysitting.

Be Zen

You can’t really predict a toddlers meltdown times like you can’t predict delays, weather or unpleasant incidents on holidays. Just try to laugh it off and go with the flow, is what I can suggest. If your kiddo is screaming in the train or flight, smile and apologize to your staring passengers. If he’s completely been on the unbalanced diet during the trip, so be it, it’s not permanent. You never know, sometimes even the most difficult toddlers could turn angelic when on holiday! So relax and let the summer vacation Gods be with you.

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