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tips for travel with toddler

Wherever you’re going, our handy tips will help keep you and your toddler happy on the way.

What to pack

  • Clothes: definitely one and possibly two outfits a day.
  • Nappies: regular and swim nappies, nappy sacks, wipes, antibacterial hand gel.
  • Favourite snacks: to prevent toddler meltdown if you can’t find them locally!
  • Medical kit: plasters, children’s paracetamol, rehydration sachets, antiseptic and antihistamine creams, thermometer, any regular medication.
  • Feeding kit: beakers, bowls, cutlery, bibs.
  • Toiletries: keep it simple with two-in-one products.
  • Gadgets: plug adaptors, nightlight, socket covers, camera and memory cards. Check if you can use your baby monitor abroad – some baby monitors may affect other devices using the same frequency and this could be illegal.
  • Car seat: if you’re flying and have booked a seat for your child, ask if you can use your car seat on board.
  • Buggy: a lightweight, folding model – and a favourite blanket too.

If you’re going on a self-catering stay

Check whether linen and towels are provided. If not, can you hire them? Maybe they can provide a high-chair, otherwise you’ll have to bring a booster seat. Will there be laundry facilities? If not, you’ll need more clothes and a laundry bag. Once that’s sorted, make a list – and take it with you to make sure you bring everything home again!

Are we there yet?

Thank goodness for distractions! The best are the usual car games and fun story books. But no matter how you’re travelling, a portable DVD player or laptop/tablet/smartphone is also loaded with entertainment. A few new small toys and books (or old but forgotten ones!) will also keep them busy, along with a supply of snacks and drinks.

Travelling by car

As well as all the car safety checks, fill up with fuel before you head off, so when you finally drive away from home you’re really setting out. Leave at a less busy time and try to tie it in with nap time. New EU safety protection laws have recently come into force, so it’s worth double-checking that your baby still has the correct car seat for their age and height. A car seat that reclines may make it easier for them to sleep. Regular pit stops for fresh air and a change of scenery help prevent tantrums, and take a potty for those who are toilet-trained. Games such as I Spy, or looking out for cars of a particular colour, are usually a big hit with little ones.

Travelling by plane

Before you book, check with your airline what their policy is on safely seating your toddler (some airlines allow small forward facing car seats for under threes, others booster seats or just ask that your toddler uses the existing lap belt). Some airlines may allow families to board first (or charge for priority boarding) so you can get your child settled. However, if you have seats booked, boarding last minimises the time they have to spend strapped into a seat. Quiet toys – colouring books, stickers and so on – will keep them busy and are less likely to annoy other passengers! A small pillow will help your toddler to get comfy or raise her up to see out of the window. Swallowing helps reduce ear pressure, so take a beaker of water for your little one to sip. An extra set of clothes and a well-equipped change bag are essential – flying can disrupt your toddler’s rhythms.

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