So, you have a toddler and you’re thinking of going on a holiday? There are plenty of people who’ll tell you not to bother: wait until they’re a bit older and easier to reason with; a holiday with a toddler isn’t really a holiday at all.
We’ve all heard about that one mum whose newly potty-trained two-year-old daughter briefly forgot her training and did a poo in the top tier of a cascading swimming pool at a well-known holiday park.
And another poor parent whose three-year-old son went walkabout but was brought safely back to her 30 minutes later by the local police. She was, understandably, in pieces, while he was having a great time in the police car, with the sirens on full blast.
But we’re here to tell you that staycationing with a toddler can be a pleasure. While you may not get to spend hours dozing by the pool with the latest holiday bonkbuster, you can still enjoy a break from the daily grind and spend quality time with your family.
As with many things in life, the key to successful travelling with toddlers is to be prepared. Here are a few things you need to know: –
KEEP IT SHORT!
Unless you’ve managed to raise the world’s only toddler who enjoys sitting still and being quiet for several hours at a time, you’ll probably want to stay in the UK (and indeed, in 2021, you probably won’t have much choice on this matter). Regardless, keeping your journey time as low possible is one of the best ways to get your holiday off to a positive start.
Travel or motion sickness is very common in young children. It can affect them sometimes and not others, and it can be worse according to the type of motion. You probably won’t ever escape travel sickness completely, but there are a few things you can try to make it less likely to happen:
Positioning: place your child’s car seat in the middle of the backseat so they have a clear view of the front window. If they’re feeling disoriented, looking straight ahead at the horizon will help. (Giving the brain a heads-up on what motion to anticipate helps the sensory overload. It’s why drivers rarely feel sick.)
Avoid books and screens: while both can be extremely helpful on long journeys, children with travel sickness can find them excessively stimulating. Looking at something stationery while also moving can cause a sensory disagreement, as a child’s eyes are fixed while their ears detect the motion. Audio books, music, and traditional games such as I Spy are your friends.
Travel at night: this makes everyone’s life easier, (apart from yours – sorry!)
Toddlers aren’t known for their adventurous eating habits and being in a new place, can often make things worse. If you’re self-catering, pack some familiar favourites. Knowing you have the back-up of a faithful Marmite sandwich is very re-assuring. Try to stick to your usual routine. It’s easy to lose track of time on holiday and this can throw eating habits out of whack. Have a reward chart or similar for trying new foods on holiday.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Leave your parental guilt at home when you’re on holiday and don’t stress too much about what they eat. It’s a few days in the grand scheme of things, and having a relaxing time is more important than fighting over the broccoli.
RAIN RAIN GO AWAY
If you’re heading somewhere where there’s likely to be rain and cold with your toddler, you’ll want to think about protective clothing. Here are some tips for buying a waterproof:
- Go for something light that can easily be stuffed into your suitcase or under the buggy (try Hippychick’s all in one Packasuits)
- Bright colours appeal to young eyes and can help them to stand out on a cloudy day, or in a crowd if they get lost
- It’s worth buying something that fits them now, rather than something they can grow into, the less grizzling because something doesn’t fit properly, the better
There are no easy answers when it comes to your toddler’s sleep on holiday. Many parents stick rigidly to their routines while others prefer to let go of schedules on holiday. Whatever you choose to do, if you’re staycationing with a toddler here are some tips that might help ease the journey to a sound night’s sleep:
- If you have to choose between a missed morning nap or missed afternoon nap, opt for the former and an early bedtime. The morning nap usually sets the mood for the rest of the day and an overtired toddler in the morning doesn’t usually improve during the rest of the day or night.
- If they fall asleep easily in the car, try to coincide nap times with car journeys so they’re not having too much daytime rest.
- Hot, sunny evenings can throw sleep patterns. Invest in travel blackout curtains to help create the sense of nighttime.
- If you’re taking a travel cot, let them sleep in it for a few nights before you go away to familiarise them.
- Plenty of exercise and fresh air will always help.
- Take a siesta yourself – if you’re well rested you can cope more easily with wakeful children.
And finally, in a post Covid era, do your best to avoid public loos wherever possible. A travel potty is a must when travelling with small children and the best we’ve seen on the market is Tron, a disposable eco potty that is sturdy enough to support children with weighing up to 50kg and simply goes in the bin once used. Don’t leave home without one.