Tips for Travel with Toddlers & Preschoolers

We have done our fare share of car traveling with kids, but transatlantic travel with kids is MUCH DIFFERENT than a long car ride. Here are some of the things I learned along the way about traveling with a 2 and 4 year old. 

A pull up on the plane is always a good idea. Just to be safe, I threw a pull up on Isla before we boarded the plane. I was SO GLAD I did. When we were taxiing out, she said she had to go the bathroom and we couldn't get up. Before you knew it, she was in hysterics. I was telling her to pee in the pull up (which she isn't used to wearing) and she was crying, "I want to use the potty!" Finally, she just went in the pull up and all was well again. 

Ditch the car seat. I brought a car seat along with us for Isla to use on the plane because I thought since she is such a good car traveler, it would help on the plane. Not only was that theory NOT TRUE, one airliner flat out refused to let us use it on the plane. It was also a pain in the butt lugging around with us. 

Just say yes to a stroller...and a carrier. The more the merrier, I say. We ended up using the stroller as a luggage trolly in train stations and airport and I would wear Isla. Also, on heavy walking days, Connor could sit in the stroller while I would wear Isla. Lastly, with the time change, the kids were all messed up. Isla (even at almost 3 years old) took naps easily in the carrier, but resisted them in the stroller. 

Less is more. I know I just said to bring more, but this time I am referring to entertainment for kids. I packed both the kids backpacks for the plane with toys and a change of clothes. Really, those toys weren't used much on the trip and more became another thing to lug around in our travels. If I were to do it all over again, I would pack one backpack for the two of them. Long haul airplanes have built in tvs, which was all the entertainment my kids needed. And, on trains and other travel days, one carefully selected toy, a favorite book and an iphone was all they needed. 

Headphones for kids! I bought the kids special kid headphones for the trip. Not only are they cute, but they have volume limiters for their sensitive ears. The stayed on the kids heads well and they both loved them. Also, they could use their own headphones on the plane rather than the garbage ones the airlines provide. 

Always have a change of clothes handy. Peeing in a airplane bathroom with some turbulence can be hard for a kid. So can not spilling your drink...not just from turbulence, but from general kid-ness. A change of clothes on an airplane is ALWAYS a good idea. 

Pack in zip lock bags. I packed both the kids outfits for the plane and the ones in normal luggage in zip lock bags. It made it so easy having everything for one outfit (top, bottom, undies, socks) in one place. Plus, if soiled clothes are involved, the bag pulls double duty as an instant wet bag. 

Snacks, snacks and more snacks. The child's meals provided on airplanes are laughable. They have no nutrition and really, for a 10+ hour flight, were not enough food for my kids. We brought tons of snacks - apples, bananas, fruit leathers, granola bars, etc. - on the plane with us and it all was eaten. If you bring produce on, just remember it all has to be gone or will end up in the trash when you arrive in your next country, as it can't go through customs. 

People kept telling us we were so brave for taking the kids on a trip like this. Honestly, there were some stressful times. All involved airplane travel and a toddler freaking out. But really, she freaks out on a daily basis...but being trapped in cramped quarters with 100's of people makes it much more stressful! That being said, we had an awesome trip and I would do it all over again. 

Ok traveling mamas, what are your best traveling tips?

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