Every day your child needs to be entertained, fed, and get plenty of sleep. When you throw in a long journey, such as when you go on holiday, this routine becomes even more challenging! Here, we have put together some useful tips for travelling with a toddler to make the process easier and keep your little one happy and well rested.
When travelling with a toddler, you need to keep them entertained, keep them relaxed and stress-free, ensure they are well-fed and have a comfortable place to sleep. All easier said than done! However, taking adequate time to prepare beforehand can make the process a lot smoother.
Be sure to prepare and pack for the journey to take longer than expected, as journeys often suffer unexpected holdups.
It is a good idea to make a checklist before you start packing and check it again before you depart. Your travel checklist will be specific to your journey length, method of transportation and your child’s needs, but some general items you should include are:
Be sure to pack more than enough drinks for the expected journey length to keep your little one hydrated if there are holdups.
Meals and/or snacks
If your journey will be interfering with your child’s usual meal time, try to prepare their food beforehand so that they don’t have to eat only snacks. Picking something that doesn’t need heating up will also save you another potential stress during the journey.
You can’t bring all your toddler’s toys, but a few of their favourites to keep them entertained, as well as a teddy for comfort is a good place to start.
Nappies, wipes and a changing mat
Your journey will almost certainly involve a nappy change so make sure you are prepared, especially as changing facilities might not be easily accessible.
Change of clothes
It’s not unusual for toddlers to go through more than one outfit in a day, so make sure you pack some spares in case of any spills or accidents!
Travel cot and blanket
A big part of how well your toddler deals with travel is how well they can sleep, so make sure they have a comfortable, breathable place to take a nap.
A big part of how well your toddler deals with travel is how well they can sleep, so make sure they have a comfortable place to take a nap, such as a durable travel cot paired with a firm and breathable travel cot mattress.
Be sure to keep all of the above easily accessible so that you can avoid tantrums and act quickly if there is an emergency!
Types of travel
Each method of transportation will come with its own challenges when travelling with a toddler:
If travelling by car you will be in control of your schedule and what you can bring, but you do also have to worry about the driving! Allowing time for plenty of pit stops for your toddler to go to the toilet and stretch their legs will prevent them from getting too restless.
If you are travelling by train, your toddler has a little more freedom (no seatbelts), but you need to keep them close and be aware of other passengers. If possible, try to book a train outside of rush hour so that the carriage is not as busy and choose the most direct route to avoid the stress of changing trains halfway. Be sure to familiarise yourself with which train stations have lifts for pushchairs too!
On a plane you will have the most limitations on what and how much you can bring on board for your toddler, so be sure to familiarise yourself with your allowances well in advance and keep everything you need for the journey easily accessible within your hand luggage. Try to book an easily accessible seat on the plane for trips to the toilet, and try to distract your little one from the changing cabin pressure with well-timed snack breaks!
Top Sleep Tips For Travelling With Toddlers
Getting little ones to sleep on nights away from home and holidays can be a challenge. Our Sleep Expert, Christabel Majendie, gives her top 5 travel tips for babies and toddlers.
1) Maintain the same bedtime routine as you do at home so your child knows it is time for sleep. A good routine could include having a bath (or shower if no bath), a bedtime story, cuddles and lights off.
2) Take a few familiar things from home to help settle your child in the unfamiliar sleeping environment. Examples could be teddies, blankets, and a small pillow.
3) If there is a change in time zone, think how you will manage this. If only for a few days you might want to keep your child on the same time as back home.
For a longer period, adjusting to the time zone will take a few days but you can start adjusting a few days before you leave by putting your child to bed and waking them up 15 minutes early/later (depending on the time zone) each day until you depart.
4) To help with adjusting to time zones, set meal times fixed around the new time zones rather than having irregular eating patterns.
5) In addition, get your child out in the natural daylight for at least an hour in the morning to help the brain adjust to the new day/night cycle.
And remember it is normal for your child’s sleep to be unsettled with changes of environment and changes in time zones so allow them time to adjust.
Travelling with a toddler is always a challenge, but by following these tips you can make sure that the process is much smoother. Prepare well in advance and make sure that your child has everything they need, and if making sure they sleep well on the journey is a major concern for you, you can also try adding a comfortable, natural mattress topper to your child’s travel cot with the Naturalmat Travelmat that's filled with temperature regulating organic lambswool in a quilted cotton cover.