How do you travel with a toddler?!Caroline Fenton
How do you travel with a toddler?! Looking back on 2016… I think we were bonkers. I know we were, and still are to be honest!!
In just two short months we had two overseas trips planned… not just quick sneaky trips either. Two biggies. One all the way to France, and the other to Portugal. One in June. One in August. Both for weddings. Both unmissable ‘wedding of the year’ type weddings. One for Ben’s sister, and one for my best friend (Hi Han!).
We toyed with the idea of taking a big three-month break. Maybe to ease the travelling burden a bit, and the finances also. But it still didn’t quite make sense. So we did it, we booked two separate trips, and had committed ourselves to over 50 hours of flying with a toddler!! A never sit still, wiggle pants kind of 19 month old!
The benefits of spending time with family, celebrating with friends, being there for these big life moments would
surely outweigh the hours in flight, all the lost sleep and the inevitable jetlag?! That’s how we convinced ourselves anyway…!
What to take?
I packed a whole holdall solely dedicated to toys (and snacks!)… I’d scoured the shops for anything that could keep little hands busy (quietly). This included a slinky, a pencil case with goodies in, sticky dinosaurs, playdough, a sticker book, a wallet with play money, small toy cars… to name a few! At 19 months, Alfie was still not able to be entertained by a film. The most exciting part of this was the headphones, the headphone wire, and the headphone sockets :) I think he spent more time putting the plug in and out of the socket than anything else!
Other popular activities were playing with the fold up table, pressing buttons on the screen and/or remote. Oh, and standing on the arm rest and falling backwards, playing peekaboo and hiding under the seat in front!! To be honest all of these kept him more entertained than any toys I brought with us! This pic was taken on the plane… check out that sleep deprived stare (and my crazy manic grin!!)…!
…standing on the arm rest and falling backwards…
What about the food?
I thought the food would be a great distraction and while away a few minutes at least… how wrong I could be! Food time was the most difficult to manage. Being a fussy eater he really didn’t want the pasta that was served to him (although actually tasted pretty good)! It was more of a battle trying to get a busy toddler to sit down, with legs down underneath a flapping moving table… in his eyes, much more fun to play with that and tip the food all over the floor!
Trying to beat jetlag?
We flew to into Paris via Dubai and booked ourselves a hotel to crash in for the night, before a TGV to Avignon and a drive to the wedding venue the next morning (yep, it was an epic journey!). We were determined to get ourselves and little boy onto the right time zone. Once we landed, we popped him down for a nap (around 2pm Paris time) but being 8pm WST, poor little man thought it was bedtime! We (completely exhausted) enjoyed a moment of peace and quiet with a much needed wine.
Alfie’s usually a short napper, waking up grumpy and needing more sleep. For once we couldn’t do anything to rouse him! Open curtains, rubbing back, singing, he really did just want to be asleep. He’s usually a pitch black and white noise sleeper only! We got him up (the look on his face!) and went in search of ‘dinner’… found Maccas and decided that was about all we could manage, being desperate to just be asleep too! Alfie was wondering why his crazy parents were forcing him to eat chips and nuggets in the middle of the night…!?
Oh my, and that was only one snippet of part of the journeys on the way out… we still had the jetlag, and return journey, and return jetlag to deal with!
Was it worth it?
In hindsight, it was pretty great for Alfie to spend such good quality time with his relatives and our friends. He learned so much, he became more confident, he really was a different little boy bringing him back to Aus! So the adventure and experience really does have to outweigh the lack of sleep (SERIOUS LACK OF SLEEP!) and impossibility of dealing with a cranky child for a continuous 24 hours plus!
It certainly isn’t easy, but it sure is worth it!
Being more prepared?
To be honest, they always rule the roost hey?! No amount of toys or snacks would have changed his behaviour, there was no magic toy (or medicine!)… he just dictated what he wanted and when! It’s just an age thing I am sure, but my advice would be to just go with the flow. Prepare with the usual heaps of wipes, changes of clothes, books, baby clips, toys, snacks etc… but at the end of the day they will do what they will do. No amount of planning will change that!
How do you travel with a toddler?
This could have been a list of all the advice I would give. Of everything I packed. Of what worked and what didn’t. But in short, nothing truly worked as a fail safe, must have, guaranteed to do! Every flight was different. Every one of his moods and experiences were different. We took a hell of a lot of stuff and it wasn’t easy (AT ALL) but we got through it, and the memories that we brought back with us are more than worth it! :)
We’d love to hear your travelling stories… have you travelled with your little ones? What age were they, and how was it?! xx
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