Travel tips

5 Things you should do before you travel with a toddler

In all the excitement of planning a trip, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a long to do list… so here are my top 5 things to do before you leave the house on your next trip!

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1. Consolidate your luggage

When you’re packing for a few days (or weeks!) away with a child, my tendency is to overpack….  Then you get home and have to wash all those things you dragged around but never used…. So when you think you have everything set out and ready to pack, take another look and see if there’s anything you can leave at home to lighten the load (and buy when you’re on your travels if you really miss it!).

Equally, once you have a baby most of us probably have to accept that it won’t be ‘hand luggage only’ for a while… and that’s ok too. If you’re in a foreign country, or just even a foreign hotel bedroom, there’s something comforting about having your own tried and tested ‘stuff’ with you. So don’t feel any pressure to underpack either!

2. Plan the first few days at your destination

Travel with children is exhausting, and it’s extremely tempting to just fall in a heap when you get to your destination. Add in jet lag, grumpy kids (and parents!) and before you know it you’ve lost a couple of days of your weeklong vacation just recovering.

While there is a lot to be said for taking it easy, I’m a big fan of planning a few low-key activities to distract everyone from their travel misery and feel like you’re making the most of your time on vacation.  It also means your need to think up fun things to do when you’re not at your best, is kept to a minimum!

3. Get good travel and medical insurance

Anyone else bought travel insurance at the airport? No? Just me then…. While everyone should have travel insurance, it’s even more important to make sure you have the right coverage when you’re pregnant, traveling with children, or traveling with a child with special medical needs.  When our daughter was diagnosed with a serious peanut allergy, we realised that we had to be very clear on our insurance coverage and entitlements in case she had a reaction.

4. Check out local facilities and activities ahead of time

Linked to the above point, it’s so helpful to get to your accommodation and have some idea where your closest supermarket/convenience store, family-friendly restaurant, medical clinic and playground are. We try to remember to do a quick Google search and screen shot the map so we have a starting point anyway if there is no phone reception or wifi.

If you’re staying at a hotel, there’s something nice and old school about getting a map from the concierge on arrival – a simple souvenir too 🙂

5. Work out how you’re going to involve your child

In my observation, an involved child is a happy child! So think if there’s anything your little one can do as their job on a trip. Our daughter ‘helps’ to carry a little bag with her toys and snacks, and is so proud of her efforts. Being involved keeps her engaged in the trip and not so focused on how tired she is or how bored of being on the plane….

We also try and prepare for our destination by talking about where we are going, the process (taxi, train, aeroplane etc), and what we plan to see there. A good way to do this is by reading books about the destination from our local library, or trying new foods from there. There is something so great about seeing a child’s face light up when they see something they’re expecting – whether that’s the beach, Legoland rides, or pizza!

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How do you get ready for a trip? Do you mostly just wing it or are you a big planner? I’d love to hear!

XX

Mariaan

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