February 20, 2013

Toddler Travel Tips

As you may have read in previous posts, I am currently in Austria and Italy with the Mini Fashionista and my +1. While the Mini has been on about 15 airplane trips in her nearly two years of life (including Mexico), this was her first time traveling across the pond. Since I know C&C has a lot of mom readers (and aunts), and Katie just did a post on adult travel, I thought I would share some of my toddler travel tips.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

1) Bring snacks, lots and lots of snacks, that you know your little person loves, and bring way more than you think you will ever need. For the Mini that is Annie's cheddar bunnies and any type of fruit/veggie puree in the "squeezy pack". She calls it "juice". In our nearly 30 hours of travel to our destination in Austria these were pretty much the only things that she ate, despite being offered many other delicious choices.

Eating blueberries and mandarin oranges while wating for our car rental in the Munich Airport

2) Invest in some form of digital entertainment, dvd player, ipad, computer, etc. While it may not be something you let your child watch at home, you will be glad to have broken your rules. There is nothing better than a video to keep a toddler occupied on a long trip.

The Mini Fashionista "plugged in" while I wait in line to make a lost luggage claim for 2 of our bags

3) For long flights, get your child their own seat, even if they are under 2 years old. There is NO WAY I would have survived our 11 hour flight from LA to Paris with the Mini in my lap.

4) If you are bringing the carseat on the plane, invest in a Go-Go Babyz travelmate. It attaches to the back of the car seat making it into a "stroller".

The "Wagon" as the Mini calls it

This is probably the number one concern of all parents taking their children to far away places, I know it was mine, and I will be honest, it hasn't been easy. I did some "research" (a.k.a. google search) on toddler jet-lag before we departed, so at least I had some strategies going into it.

In 30 hours of travel, the Mini Fashionista only slept about 5 hours, 6 at the most. So we thought for sure she would crash hard upon our arrival, but that was wishful thinking. For the first 3 nights she woke up between the hours of 2:30 and 4:00 a.m. Following the advice of my "research", we kept the lights off, stayed in bed and eventually she fell back asleep within an hour or so. It was slightly painful, but we survived and by night 4 she was sleeping 10+ hours. We'll see how she adjusts once we are back home.

Here are my tips...some my own and others from my so called "research"! 

1) Say "au revoir" to your established, at-home schedule. A significant time change (9 hours in our case) is uncharted territory! Instead, identify a period of time, say 8-12, for bedtime and 5-10 for wakeup,  whatever suits your vacation schedule the best.

2) When your child wakes up in the middle of the night, keep the lights off (or on low) and don't allow her to use any sort of electronics. Light/motion stimulate the brain and will make it harder to catch those most needed zzzzzs.

3) Immediately adapt to the meal schedule of your new time zone. Hungry tummies often cause children to wake up during the night. If she does wake up in the middle of the night, a small snack, something without a lot of sugar (bagel, milk, yogurt, etc.) might help them go back to sleep.

5) Don't let your toddler nap too long during the day. It's just like having a newborn baby....if she sleeps too much during the day, chances are she won't sleep at night!

6) Give your child toys and books to play with as she falls asleep and possibly for in the middle of the night. This will mean less hands on time for you!

7) Allow yourself to break "the rules" you have at home. For us that meant the Mini Fashionista sleeping in our bed. Sometimes it was just easier for her to fall asleep cuddled up next to me, and if that meant I got to sleep faster, than so be it. It doesn't mean this will happen at home. It's back to her bed immediately upon our arrival.

8) Don't give up! It was super frustrating to go from a child that sleeps for 12 hours to a child that only slept for 5 or 6 hours at a time. I was exhausted from our travels and from being awake those first few nights. There were times when I thought "why did we do this?...we should have just stayed home", but eventually the Mini was able to sleep the whole night and I too got my sleep back.

I would love to hear if anyone else has great toddler travel tips! 

1 comment:

  1. I personally can't travel without my Kikko'pilo
    travel pad. It is great for napping and changing etc.