Tips for traveling with a toddler.

We just got back from a quick weekend jaunt to Washington, D.C. My husband had some interviews, we caught up with some good friends, & we enjoyed sightseeing around the Capitol. It was a blast! So I thought I’d share some must-have items for traveling with small kids.

Item 1: Her own bedding & a white noise machine (if you use one at home). We’ve been traveling this way since our first family trip when The Munchkin was 6 weeks old. The more the hotel room smells, feels, & sounds like home, the better they’ll sleep. This bedding is from IKEA.

Item 2: A place to sleep. This one was tricky for us this time. We had always used her pack-n-play, but she’s long since outgrown it. We needed someplace she wouldn’t fall out of, since she still sleeps in a crib, but that she could actually fit into. I asked friends & family members for advice, & everyone had a different solution that had worked for them, so your solution may be different from what we ended up going with. Our original thought was to put some thick blankets on the floor & hem her into a corner by moving some furniture around, but then my brilliant husband got the brilliant idea to just turn the sofa around to face the wall. The Munchkin never climbed out, & she slept better than she does here at home! I wonder if they would’ve missed that couch if I’d snuck it down the hall & strapped it to the top of the car when we checked out…

Item 3: Portable DVD player. Great for long car rides or flights… & for times when you’re trying to get ready in a hurry in the hotel room & the hotel doesn’t have Disney or PBS. (Seriously? How could an Embassy Suites not have PBS? It’s a travesty. But we survived, as you can see.) We have a bottom-of-the-line one — the brand is COBY written in the SONY font, & I’m not even kidding — that my husband got for free with his Westlaw research points, & it works great, so you don’t need to spend a ton for your sanity.

Item 4: Stroller. In case anyone was wondering, the Maclaren Triumph does just as well on the streets & Metros of D.C. as it does on the streets & subways of New York. But any stroller will do as long as you can lug it around.

Item 5: Disposable bibs & eating utensils. I’ve always got one of these bibs in the diaper bag in case we decide to stop somewhere for lunch or something, but I packed a ton for our trip. There’s nothing grosser than having to pack around a sticky, soggy bib after a meal. These disposable ones by Pampers (Babies R Us makes them too, but I don’t like them quite as much) are cheap & make post-meal cleanup SO much happier. As for utensils, often restaurants don’t have kid-sized forks or spoons, so we bring a Take-&-Toss one or ask for plastic. Now, whether or not she uses it is another matter entirely…

Item 6: Stuff to do & great people to do it with. Even if the purpose of your trip is more grown-up (like my husband’s job interviews), your kid will be much happier if you find ways to make it fun for her too. We got to spend the morning before we left seeing the sights as a family. It was a real treat!

Of course, a giant elephant doesn’t hurt either…

What are your must-haves for traveling with your kids?



Filed under Activities, Adventures in Mommydom

3 responses to “Tips for traveling with a toddler.

  1. Brook Gotberg

    My tip for outings:

    Minimize the baggage. I got stuck for a long time in the newborn mentality, where you should pack an extra change of clothes, lots of diapers and wipes, yada yada yada for everytime you go anywhere or do anything. No longer. Now that Alice is not likely to poop through her clothes at a moment’s notice and can go two hours or more without eating, and now that I’m much less mobile myself, we’ve ditched the “be prepared for everything” mentality.

    Now my motto is sleek and speedy. We only pack what we think we will need, and if possible, leave most of that in the car. I.e., a walk around the block? Keys, phone, stroller, possibly water bottle. A quick run to Jo-Anns? Keys, phone, wallet. A trip to the beach? Keys, phone, quarters, beach towel, hat, extra diaper, wipes, sunscreen, snacks. And maybe Alice’s swimming suit. Maybe.

    Ahhh. Freedom.

  2. Maureen

    We always take blankets from home and I never wash them right before the trip. I used to want everything to start out clean for a trip, but if the “home” smell is gone from the blankets, they don’t help as much!

    I will second the maclaren stroller recommendation. I love ours! It is the best stroller for every situation we’ve encountered, especially when traveling!

  3. Great shots! Nothing compares to a happy child.

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