Julia is 3,5 years and she started traveling when she was one month old. In these years we have learned to love these three things and we can assure you they will save your life if you’re traveling with toddlers. They have made our lives that much easier and we couldn’t imagine traveling without them.
I need to make a disclaimer here so you understand just how basic and awesome these three things have been. I like simple, I like basics, and I like only what is really necessary, yet I need these things whenever we travel.
A baby carrier or a sling
I traveled from Mexico to Sweden with Julia with 2 stopovers and around 22+ hours in the air when she was around 5 months old, do you realise that I was by myself with Julia? You get the picture – Baby wearing was a lifesaver! I could even go to the toilet while she continued to sleep, and fly through passport control with just my carry-on bag to think of. A baby carrier or a sling is one of THE main things to bring if you’re traveling with toddlers.
Julia wanted be fed every waking minute of her life for like 3 to 5 months? Yep, you can also do that while wearing your baby. I became an expert at discreetly breastfeeding while wearing Julia and running through airports to make the flight. I still think of those days and laugh a lot. Baby wearing has a lot of benefits for the child, and the parent-child relationship but who are we kidding in day-to-day parenting the biggest benefit is that you get two hands to yourself and a happy baby, this applies to travel too!
We used a stretchy wrap from the day she was born until she was around 5 months old. Then we bought a Tula baby carrier that we used until she was around 2 years old when we had to upgrade to a Tula toddler baby carrier – yes you can wear a 2+ year old child without breaking your back. The main thing here is to make sure that you are using an ergonomic baby carrier – that is what they are made for. And how do you know whether your carrier is ergonomic? Easy peasy go to Wrap you in love’s – Where to start section. She has lots of tutorials and reviews about all sorts of wraps and carriers.
Traveling with toddlers is much easier if you have something that you can carry them with, because who are we kidding, kids this young don’t walk long distances and get tired quite easily. We’ve hiked to see the monarch butterflies and beautiful waterfalls. We have been able to walk up and down the streets of Venice with all it’s stairs without having to carry around a stroller and without having to force Julia to walk (and ending up carrying her in our arms). Baby wearing for me was survival which then became something that I loved to do.
Airplane carry-on stroller
We use the Baby Jogger City Tour stroller. This type of stroller is not recommended for babies younger than 6 months old and if your younger than 6 months is a bit like mine chances are they won’t let you put them on their stroller for two minutes and you end up using your stroller as a push-cart that carries all your bags and things (also not bad, I guess strollers can multi-task too).
We had an umbrella type stroller before this one and we sold it after 2 or 3 trips. The number one thing that sucked was having to check the stroller in the hold because not all airlines treat them well and before you know it you have a stuck wheel or a lock that doesn’t work, you get the picture.
Then I found this great stroller that we have been using for a bit over two years, it is one of the things that we always bring and we recommend you should have for traveling with toddlers anytime! It comes with a backpack type bag where you can put it in before boarding, we rarely use the bag though, but the beauty of it is how easy it is to fold and unfold.
Keep in mind that not everywhere you go you can take a stroller with you (or should take a stroller). For instance I wouldn’t go hiking with a kid in a stroller or Venice, Venice with a stroller sucks! You carry it up and down the stairs more than you push it around. For the last six months or so Julia refuses to be carried in our Tula baby carrier so the stroller has been a life saver for tired little feet.
Julia potty trained herself. One day she woke up and said “mommy diaper yuck” and went ahead and took it right off. I wasn’t ready – I hadn’t even bought underwear for her! And she refused to put a diaper on. I had to wait for the stores to open so that I could run and buy some undies. Of course there were some accidents along the way but she was pretty much self-potty trained.
Maybe I was lucky because I read about EC (elimination communication – you can learn more and see the travel potty in action in this blog post written by Heidi Avelino) before Julia was born and I thought it was something I wanted to try. It turned out it was an amazing way of communicating with my child and soon after 6-7 months she was never going number 2 in the diaper, only in the toilet or potty.
That made me find my beloved Potette on the internet and buy it. We bought the silicone insert and had a portable potty that took barely any space, we carry it everywhere. They sell biodegradable liners (Amazon sells a generic type that you can buy for a fraction of the price) that you can put in the potty and simply tie and throw away.
My dear Potette has been with us in the most random times where we simply couldn’t get to the toilet. Like an airplane during taxi (ok she was not supposed to even get up but who are we kidding, no one would have liked it if she peed on the airplane seat), inside the car when it was pouring rain outside, and even when we were in South Africa and had just spotted the huge elephants during our game drive, that was obviously the perfect time to say “Mommy I gotta pee”.
I am a huge believer that you need very little things to make it through the younger years, and that less is more. But still there are things that are just basic if you are a family that loves traveling with toddlers, these three things are THE most important things to never forget. They will just make your life much easier and help everyone enjoy the ride. And in case you are thinking of ways to entertain your toddler when you are traveling we also have some great ideas for you.