toddler travel tips

With the airline costs going up and up, traveling with kiddos under two can be a bargain! Little ones fly free as a “lap child” or “infant in arms” if they are under two years old. For international flights you have to pay the taxes for a lap child’s “ticket,” but depending on where you’re traveling that’s pennies compared to a full priced plane ticket.

A good hiking carrier makes navigating the airports a breeze.

A good hiking carrier makes navigating the airports a breeze.

Last March we escaped the Midwest cold and took a family vacation to sunny Mexico, paying under $20 my son’s “ticket.” Before boarding we asked if there were any sections with an open seat and my son ended up with his own seat between his daddy and I on most of our flights… perfect!

Still, many parents are intimidated by the idea of traveling with a baby or toddler and that’s no surprise. Traveling can be trying regardless of one’s age, but I argue that watching your child experience new things and making family memories is well worth the airport grind.

For help surviving the travel portion of your vacation check out my post, “Tips For Traveling with Little Ones.” With some planning and the right attitude vacation with a toddler can be fun for everyone. Here are some things to consider when planning your family getaway.

1. Location, location, location! First you want to be sure that you’re headed somewhere that will reward your traveling efforts. Pick a place that appeals to you and your family. Be sure its somewhere you all can enjoy without a rigid schedule of outings.

2. Home Away From Home Look for comfortable accommodations that allow you to make a little home away from home. Bring your little one’s essential comfort items. For us we always travel with my son’s blankie, a couple of his books and small toys, some of his favorite snacks, and his sound machine. “Extended stay” hotels are great for traveling with a little one because they typically have a separate bedroom (great for nap time) and a kitchenette. Another comfortable and very affordable option would be staying with friends or family, just remember to bring a nice hostess gift.

travel destination3. Flexibility When vacationing with a toddler you have to manage your personal expectations and be flexible. On our Mexico trip with our 20 month old we could fit in one planned outing before lunch / nap time. In the afternoon we played things by ear. Some days we hung out by the pool or went back to the beach, other times we stayed in. Make quality family time the priority over a myriad of activities and everyone will be happier in the end.

4. Sense of Adventure The right attitude is key to enjoying yourself on vacation. Embracing a sense of adventure serves both kids and adults well. Just remember parents set the tone so try to be a good example for your little ones. If you hit a bump in the road, literally or figuratively, remind yourself it’ll be a funny story to tell someday. If your little one has a tantrum on the plane, remind yourself it’ll pass and you all will get through it. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of travel hiccups over the years. I’ve been the parent of the screaming kid on the plane and still I say go for it parents. Take your little ones and go explore the world. In the end the surprises we face while traveling can be the most rewarding and memorable parts of your trip. Be brave and dare to vacation with your little ones!

toddler travel tips

Wife, work at home mom, and bassoonist, Laura Ankrum lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to the arrival of her two children Laura taught elementary music and band in the Boston area. Now her home is her classroom and music studio. Laura is passionate about education, encouraging other moms, and eco-friendly living. She is the social media coordinator at Thirsties Inc and regularly contributes to First Time Mom.