Since uploading my last post on ‘Our First Holiday to Turkey‘ I’ve had a fair few people message me asking if I can do a ‘Travel Tips’ post when travelling with a Toddler. Clearly I’m no expert on this topic area but I’ll share what worked for us whilst travelling to Turkey. I think one of the main reasons I put off travelling with Leila sooner was due to the nightmare stories I either heard or read about.
I also kept telling myself she was too young to go abroad and it might be best to wait until she’s older. But I took the plunge and realised with careful planning and preparation most dilemmas could be avoided and in turn it should be a fun and exciting experience. To make the idea a little less daunting, I’ve compiled a list of top tips for travelling with a toddler.
Company: If you are a single parent and you’re planning a trip abroad for the first time I would recommend taking someone with you (if possible) for the added support. Taking my mum away with me really helped, I’m not the greatest of travellers as I get motion sickness so I was a little anxious so having her there meant if I was feeling slightly bleurgh she could help with Leila.
Plan Ahead: Give yourself plenty of time when travelling with a toddler, if they’ve never been away before they’ll be pretty excited and want to stop at every opportunity to stare or explore the whole new world of the airport. Leaving in good time also eliminates that feeling of ‘OMG we’re going to miss our flight’ and buys time for unexpected eventualities such as traffic, service stop for a nappy change etc
On Line Check-In: Most airlines will allow you to check in 24 hours before departure and this is a brilliant way of ditching those long check-in queues. We travelled with Thomas Cook from East Midlands Airport and they had a priority check-in for all passengers who had already checked in online and just needed to check their bags though. It took 5 minutes to do and we were on our way! When I saw the actual check-in queue it was incredibly long and I know standing in that with Leila would have been a nightmare!
Baggage: I kept my baggage to an absolute minimum as I also had a pushchair which meant that either myself or my mum would be pushing Leila or pulling the luggage. The only hand luggage I had was a changing bag and that was packed with all the essentials needed for the both of us, all other baggage was checked in. Even though Leila had a luggage allowance I didn’t pack a separate suitcase for her, I combined it with mine which meant on arrival we only had two suitcases which made it so much easier to make quick exit on arrival to get our transfer.
Snacks: Pack plenty of snacks, nobody wants to have to deal with a hangry toddler! I would also advise to make them as healthy as possible as the last thing you want is a hyperactive toddler in a confined space. Also by packing snacks from home you avoid paying ridiculous airport prices! On a side note if your child still drinks milk (formula or dairy) you can take this through security, it is tested separately and doesn’t have to comply with the 100ml liquid policy!
Medication: I don’t go anywhere without Calpol or Nurofen. You never know when your toddler may start to feel unwell and being prepared to ease their discomforts is essential in my opinion.
Comforter: Leila has had a bunny comforter (Bung as she likes to call it) since she was born which she can’t do without, I had to guard this with my life whilst on holiday! I would advise taking whatever helps your little one to settle to sleep e.g. cuddly toy, comforter, dummy etc. Also take a small pillow (if possible) to give them added comfort when/if they do fall asleep, just a familiar scent of ‘home’ can be comforting in itself.
iPad/Tablet: Keeping a toddler entertained is hard enough let alone in a confined space so if they do have a tablet I would load it with all their favourite TV shows. BBC iPlayer is great as it allows you to download programmes which can be watched without the internet.
Entertainment: As brilliant as an iPad/Tablet is for keeping toddlers entertained I would also suggest packing in-flight entertainment such as a books, colouring books, flash cards and smaller toys (dolls, cars etc). This not only adds variety but gives their eye a much needed rest from the screen!
I hope this list has been helpful and given you the added re-assurance of travelling with your toddler. I would recommend everyone to just take the plunge, Leila was brilliant on the flight and got plenty of attention from other travellers too! She did stay awake all the way there but she was so excited so I can’t blame her but on the way back she slept the entire way!
I’ve certainly caught the travelling bug and will most definitely be planning some more trips abroad with her.
Let me know in the comments section below what your ‘Top Tips’ are for travelling with a Toddler.