I’m writing this while I am on a “tour de Czech” kind of holiday. Me and 14 months old @Derrys_Diary, 11 days, 6 different locations, 4 hotels, 2 planes, 7 trains, multiple buses… It’s loads of fun but hard work. I could write a few hundred pages on the topic of travelling with a toddler (or a baby) but will try to squeeze my top tips to this blog post:
The disorganised ones are doomed. You have to plan. Research. Is there a playground close to your hotel? A kids section on the train? A kids area at the airport? Can your hotel store your buggy? What time does the nearest grocery shop shut/open? You need to know. Screenshot it, write it down and thank me later.
Obviously it’s all about the snacks. When you think you have enough snacks packed, add the same amount again. You don’t want to risk anything. You think you know your toddler, but I guarantee you you’ll be surprised by the amount of rice crackers he can chew and spit out before asking for some more, by all the cheerios he will manage to throw onto fellow passengers on the plane and by his clumsiness when he “accidentally” drops his breadsticks onto the filthiest floor, demanding some more. Do not risk it! Stock up!
How do you keep a hyperactive creature sitting still for at least 15 minutes at a time? Entertain, entertain, entertain! Do whatever it takes. Learn that magic trick, bribe the passenger next to you to make funny faces, bring a clown nose, download a shedload of Teletubbies and twenty different versions of Baby Shark… I personally hide a couple of Derry’s favourite toys (how cruel) a week before planned trip and then produce them (one by one) in crisis situations during the journey. I also get a new toy and wrap it up (you can use multiple layers of different wrapping papers) which usually keeps him occupied from the aircraft pushback to take-off even at Heathrow where taxiing may take longer than the actual flight.
- Back up
Always have a back up plan and a spare one of everything. Your little angel hasn’t had an explosive poop for the past three months? I promise you it’ll happen just as you board your plane. One pair of shoes? Not enough! One dummy? Don’t be a dummy! You need spare everything. For instance, Derry lost his hat as soon as we got through the airport security. Be prepared!
Even if you are travelling alone with your toddler, there are always allies to be found wherever you go. You guessed it – the allies are other mums with kids. Firstly, your little treasures will likely entertain each other – whether it’s by shy but curious looks, a “conversation” in baby language, or an attempt to steal each other’s toys. Speaking of toys, any child enjoys getting their hands on “new” exciting stuff so whenever I meet a fellow mum on a public transport I suggest a temporary swap (of toys, not kids). Also, other mums (just like you) will be happy to share snacks, baby wipes or anything you are in a shortage of. And most importantly, if your child screams his head off, you won’t feel embarrassed because you’ll be in the company of someone who understands your pain and chances are the other kid will have a meltdown too, sooner or later.
I know there is a hundred million other points to cover but the ones I just described are essential to bare survival. Overall, travelling (alone) with a toddler is a military operation and a bit of rocket science: for instance, I have been trying to come up with an equation to determine my baby’s nap requirement and ideal timing, based on the amount of REM sleep the previous night, his wake-up time, steps taken, the number of times he bumped his head, ounces of milk consumed, the annoyance factor etc. So far no luck at calculating and predicting his nap; he always decides to fall asleep in the least convenient situation, for example just as we need to transfer from a train onto a bus… I mean travelling with a toddler is a bloody nightmare. Having said that, showing the world to a being who hasn’t got the foggiest and gets excited about the most ordinary and random things is exceptionally rewarding.