We have been traveling a lot with our kids, and both my husband and I find that traveling with a toddler age child is the trickiest. Here are some simple things I would like to share that makes traveling with a toddler less stressful for us.
1.Timing: we try to make sure to time our flights or road trips either early morning when Kai is still fresh and rested, or mid day during nap time to avoid melt downs. The same is true during your vacation, plan a schedule and try to stick to it. Make sure to leave early for touristy day trips, or outings when you will be in crowded areas, and schedule a rest stop for mid day. For example while in Hawaii we made a trip down to Honolulu to do some touristy sight seeing and we were bright and early at our first stop, and Kai took his mid day nap in the car between the first and second location.
2. Food: Meals are so important! If you are still nursing (like I was during our last trip), you will always have a snack "handy" to both distract and feed your toddler. However having lots of options for snacks are so helpful either way. I love to have things that take time to eat like a small box of raisins, or trail mix, dried fruit, or even some heathy chips or crackers. When we travel I also take some not so healthy options with me like chocolate, or vegan gummy bears that I keep for "emergency situations" like a meltdown in the middle of the airplane. During your vacation try to make sure to always have snacks on you as well, and plan for your meals because a "hangry" toddler is no joke!
3. Distractions: No matter if it's for the car, airplane or a restaurant, it's nice to have some small toys, books, paper and crayons etc. with you. I always have a small bag full of little items like toy cars, Peppa the pig characters, or a coloring kitready to go, no matter where we go. Also having an Ipad or iPod for longer trips could be very helpful. I some of the episodes of Peppa downloaded on an IPad and it saved us so many times. Though Kai is not very interested in movies or games yet but a few short episodes of Peppa will usually buy us some quiet time.
4. Schedule: Though you are on vacation, keeping to your normal routine and schedule as much as possible will help with jet leg and adjusting to a new place. Sleeping in a strange place could be very scary for a small child and the comfort of things from home like a favorite teddy or blanket could provide some relief in their anxiety. Again, plan your days as much as possible and try to stick to it. However you also have to learn to go with the flow as well since being in a new time zone will mess up things in the first few days.
5. Relax and let go: this one is the hardest one for me, but you have to learn to just let go of things. It's ok if you don't get to see and do everything you planned on, it's ok if your toddler cries a bit on the plane, it's ok if his clothes are messy and you don't have another set on you, it's ALL GOOd because you are on vacation. Also try to make sure to team up with your spouse, my husband is amazing at taking the children off my hand when he notices it that I am at my breaking point. You can take turns in walking up and down the isle of the airplane, or playing on the beach with the kids while the other one gets to shut their eyes and rest. Good team work makes for a more relaxing vacation for both parents, I am grateful for my hubby to be such a hands on Dad so I actually get to enjoy vacationing with my children.