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10 Truths About Traveling with Toddlers

Traveling with toddlers is not exactly one of life’s super fun activities. I can think of a slew of things I’d much rather do. (Cleaning toilets anyone?!) But it’s just a part of life and if you can go into it prepared about what you might expect, then you will probably fare much better. This isn’t one of those posts about tips and tricks for traveling with toddlers, though I have written such posts before. This is a post that lays out what traveling with a toddler is really like and why all of your well-laid plans will likely be chucked out the window. Learn to accepts these truths and you just might enjoy toddler travel a tiny bit more.

  • 10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers 1 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    You know all those blog posts about tips for traveling with toddlers? Well, this isn't one of them. This is the real deal... what really happens when you travel with a toddler despite all your best and well-planned efforts.

  • 1. Your timing will usually be off. 2 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    I remember the first time I ever flew, reading every single forum in the known world about tips and tricks for flying with kids and one of the most common tips was to pick a flight time that was during nap time. I followed this advice and it sucked. Worst advice ever. My kid refuses to sleep while in my lap, so the next time I planned a flight during her happiest "awake time" of day and for some reason she happened to be grumpy that day. So basically, I'm pretty certain that whatever time of day you strategically pick to fly will be the wrong time that day on that particular day. So don't stress and just pick whatever time will give you the cheapest flight. I swear there's no rhyme or reason, aside from not flying super late at night (i.e 1:00 AM or something). Since my child refuses to sleep not in a bed, it's basically a recipe for inflight disaster.

    Photo via iStockphoto

  • 2. All your toys will suck. 3 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    Of all the toys you painstakingly and thoughtfully plan to bring, the barf bag and in-flight magazine will inevitably be the fan favorite. Honestly, I don't even bother bringing more than a couple of toy distractions anymore, because they mostly just end up getting thrown under the seat anyway and all my daughter wants is my iPhone or the absolute dirtiest thing on the plane: the inflight magazine and safety card. Recently I've realized that the barf bag is a great distraction though. On our last flight she spent an hour placing two small rubber duckies in and out of a barf bag. Best "toy" ever and it didn't even take up space in my carryon! 

    Photo via Alaska Airlines

  • 3. Your kid owns your suitcase. 4 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    Remember when you used to be able to travel with only a carry-on? Yeah. Those days are over. Now your kid pretty much owns your suitcase and after all the diapers, food, clothing you pack for them, you will be allotted approximately 1/16th of the space that is leftover. I suggest using that meager space for clean underwear, but to each their own.

    Photo via iStockphoto

  • 4. You will always overpack. 5 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    Everyone always gives me a bad time about packing so much when I travel, but it never fails that the one time I pack "only the essentials" I end up needing the non-essentials. So basically, I just overpack and don't end up using some stuff, but it's worth it for peace of mind.

    Photo via iStockphoto

  • 5. It takes a village. 6 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    Traveling by yourself with a toddler kind of sucks. It can be done for sure, but it's not nearly as pleasant. Traveling with family is a godsend—an extra pair of hands can make all the difference. But, if you don't have the option, try to make friends with someone who looks nice on your flight. I did this during my last solo flight and it was great when we had a two hour layover for our connecting flight, because she helped me out by watching my stuff while I ran my daughter so she would be tired for the flight. I never could've managed on my own, since you can't leave bags unattended at airports these days.

    Photo via iStockphoto

  • 6. Nap time? What’s that? 7 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    When you're traveling, basically just say goodbye to your regularly scheduled nap times. Vacations are all about relaxing and enjoying yourself and sticking to a super regimented schedule, just doesn't always work. Over time, I've realized that nap times aren't always going to happen and it's OK. My daughter will just sleep for a half hour here or there en route to our various destinations and if she doesn't, then she'll just sleep better at night. If she's particularly exhausted on some days though, I will put in the effort to ensure she gets a proper nap, but overall I try to be flexible with it and just let the naps fall where they may.

    Photo via iStockphoto

  • 7. Never underestimate the power of food. 8 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    I'm not saying you should bribe your kid with food or anything, but I am saying, that sometimes a snack can solve a case of the grumpies like nothing else. I know I get pretty irate when I'm extra hungry (also known as "hangry"—hungry + angry), so I've no doubt that it is similar for toddlers. Packing plenty of on-the-go snacks is a must.

  • 8. Airport escalators will be your BFF. 9 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    Apparently those moving airport escalators are the best thing since sliced bread in the eyes of a toddler, so use it to your advantage and ride those things non-stop 'til your flight to help your little one run off some energy. Sure other people might think it's a little weird or annoying, but you know what they won't think is weird or annoying? A kid who's not screaming and kicking their seat on the flight.

    Photo via iStockphoto

  • 9. All of your plans will be for naught. 10 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    OK. This isn't completely true. Some of the things you carefully and meticulously plan for your trip will actually work out, but traveling with a toddler is so unpredictable, that you'll just need to accept that not everything will go according to plan. This is your truth  now.

  • 10. Right when you get your groove it’ll be over. 11 of 11
    10 Truths About Traveling With Toddlers

    It's pretty much a rule or something that once you get settled into your routine while traveling, it will be time to head home and that means trying to get back into your regular routine again. It's never-ending, really.

 

Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on TwitterFacebookPinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble. More from Lauren:

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