Travelling with a toddler is a daunting prospect… well, let’s face it. Leaving the house to do pretty much anything with a toddler can be a daunting prospect.
It reminds me a bit of taking an untrained puppy into a puppy training class – you never know what they’re going to do next and at what point their unruly behaviour is going to get you ejected!
However, by ensuring that you have these 3 simple things, you can be prepared to handle any situation. You might even find yourself enjoying your trip!
So, “what are these magic items?” I hear you ask… allow me to share the secret…
They key to successful toddler travels is the ability to remove them instantly from any situation – dangerous, embarrassing or simply gross.
Sometimes, the only way to get a toddler out of these situations is to simply grab them and haul them away, and that unfortunately requires good arm strength and back muscles.
It’s honestly worth putting in a few extra hours at the gym before you embark upon your trip as this will ensure, not only that your arms look great in your new swimsuit, but that you can use these strength reserves at those vital moments.
I’ll share a quick couple of examples from our recent trip to Greece:
1. Wandering the steep, stair filled streets of Santorini and Little Chubs decides he’s had enough walking. He also decides he doesn’t want to get in the pram. There is mummy, carrying all 13.5kgs of him and all 11kgs of his pram up the steep, cobbled steps of Santorini’s picturesque Caldera through hoards of tourists – one tourist even asking us to move out of his frame we stopped for a moment to catch a breath(!) Sigh…
2. Arriving at the base of the Acropolis in Athens and being told that there are no prams allowed and all toddlers must be carried to the top. I nearly cried. Then we get to the top and he decides it’s okay to take the opportunity while mummy’s taking a photo, to wander over to the roped-off area, duck the rope and experience the ancient ruins up close and personal. Mummy leaps, dives, whisks him up mingles back into the crowd as the lady with the radio comes charging up to investigate the breached line of defence…
3. Bowl on the reception desk of hotel on Paros Island, generously pitched at exactly toddler height. Mummy turns from relaxing on the nearby couch to see Little Chubs pulling very small rock from the bowl out of his nose before transferring gently towards his ear. For this one, mummy doesn’t just leap, she ejects from said comfy couch and leaps over the back of it before diving, grabbing small rock and whisking the bowl of rocks away (again to the shrieks of displeasure)
None of this activity could be achieved without a significant level of fitness, agility and muscle strength so believe me when I say; it’s worth the effort to avoid unpleasant holiday outings such as sitting in hospital emergency departments or lying in an exhausted, defeated heap at the base of ancient attractions.
2. The comforter
Now, I know that, to any seasoned toddler parent, this sounds way too obvious – bring the sleep comforter. For some it’s a teddy or toy, for some a blankie, others a favourite pillow.
Whatever that comforter is though, you simply MUST bring it on EVERY single outing.
One day, we thought we were heading out for breakfast then coming back to the hotel to change and head out for the afternoon. . As the day unfolded, we decided to catch a bus over to the other side of the island for lunch, calculating that the Little Chubs could have a snooze on the bus ride. We boarded the bus congratulating ourselves on our great ability to be spontaneous when the statement every parent dreads was uttered – “I want Charlie”.
All the blood drained from my face and I looked over at a pale, frightened looking hubby as we both came to the realisation at the exact same time that Charlie, the little scrap of cuddly fabric with a smiley face, was still back in the hotel room lying in the cot.
I don’t think I need to explain the scene that unfolded too much further – I’m sure we’ve all been in confined spaces with someone’s kid going completely crazy in the corner and secretly wishing you could put a sock in their mouth, while the parents slowly die of shame and wish they could crawl under a rock and die. Well, that was us and it could have all been avoided by simply checking off the checklist before leaving the house. Read it again – EVERY SINGLE OUTING. Learn from our mistakes!
3. A toy rotation schedule
It’s obvious that you need to bring toys for a toddler. What may not be quite so obvious is to bring a toy rotation schedule.
When you travel, you can’t bring an endless supply of toys and distractions the same as what you have a home. So, you need to be a little bit strategic about it.
We would always bring two kits:
The tiger backpack which had a particular selection of cars, dinosaurs and balls A bag in the suitcase with a different selection.
Over the course of each couple of days, ensure that these toy selections are rotated, so they think they are seeing new toys all the time. And always make sure that you split the favourites into different groups.
We would try and make sure that the much favoured white Audi car was never in the same toy rotation as the red Ferrari car. Nor that the travel soccer ball appeared with the etch-a-sketcher. That way, when things were really starting to go pear-shaped in any situation, we could pull out a trump card favourite and quickly diffuse things.
Of course, this plan is not foolproof… there will be occasions where even the most favourite of favourites is flung back at your head immediately but in those situations, there’s really nothing to do but duck, take a deep breath and resign yourself to the crying until the overtired exhaustion hits and they fall asleep.
So there you have it… a simple list but an essential one.
Having done a number of overseas trips this year, I feel confident in sharing this experience with you and indeed, I want to try and rescue as many people as possible from some of the situations we found ourselves in if I can. After all, these pint sized little people can take some effort to keep happy. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we’re all in it for?
Keep smiling, laughing – oh and working out! ;)
Till next time