How To Travel With A Toddler

Planning on traveling with kids in the near future? Early Childhood Development Specialist, Anastasia Moloney, shares her advice and product picks to make your journey a breeze!

Little toddler at the airport

As travel slowly begins to resume, the idea of being able to catch up with family and friends gives us so much joy!

However, if you’re traveling with a toddler, it can also bring quite a bit of anxiety.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • How to mentally prepare your child (and self) for travel
  • Tips & tricks for traveling with kids
  • The best suitcase for kids travel
  • The best car seat and stroller for kids travel
  • Must-have travel toys for toddlers
  • How to make snack/mealtime easier while traveling
  • How to manage meltdowns while traveling with kids

Scroll down to learn more.


Mentally preparing your toddler (and self) for travel:


#1 Stay calm


The main thing to remember is that children feed off of our energy; so try as much as possible to stay calm throughout your trip.

#2 Focus on the destination


While we know how easy it is to spiral at the thought of a delayed plane or traffic jam with an over-tired toddler, it’s important to focus on the WHY of your trip. We know people love the quote, ‘It’s about the journey, not the destination…” but when you’re traveling with kids, that quote needs to be very much reversed. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and you need to constantly remind you and your toddler WHY you’re traveling for so long.

#3 Describe what your toddler will see and do


It’s helpful if you can really set the scene. If you’re spending the day in the car, try explaining that you’re going to leave before the sun rises. Describe getting to watch the sky go from dark to light. Use and excited voice and tell your tot that they’re going to eat breakfast on the road! Tell them that they’re going to get to play at a playground for 10 minutes in a completely new town! Be honest about the fact that they’ll be sitting A LOT. By setting expectations from the start, you’ll get a whole lot less, “Are we there yet?!’



Tips to make traveling with kids easier:


#1 Over-budget your time.


From meltdowns to bathroom accidents, you never know what’s going to cause you to have to pull the car over. Give yourself at least an hour of extra travel time so you don’t feel stressed if you hit a literal or figurative road block.


#2 Plan your travel itinerary around sleep times


As someone who has traveled quite a lot with a baby and toddler, I’ve found that it’s helpful to drive during nap times or even after dinner. This isn’t always ideal for everyone (some kids don’t sleep well in the car,) but it can be really helpful. Alternatively, try to make sure your tot has a good sleep before getting in the car so they’re not over-tired.


#3 Don’t forget to have snack and meal breaks


Is there anything worse than being hangry? Yes – being hangry and also having a hangry toddler. Pack snacks, take breaks. Both you and your tot need fuel! (More on travel snack tips below!)


#4 Plan your potty breaks/revert to a pull-up


One of the trickiest things about traveling with a toddler is potty-training. While it’s important to stay consistent, it’s okay if you put a pull-up on them “just in case.” Sometimes accessing a toilet just isn’t possible.


#5 Bring plenty of comfort toys and entertainment


Our favorite parenting hack is redirection and nothing helps more than a bag full of comfort toys and games to turn a frown upside down!



The best suitcase for kids travel:


When we discovered the JetKids BedBox by Stokke, we knew we had a game-changer on our hands. This versatile little box can be ridden, used as a coloring or toy space, as a foot rest, a bed and of course – for storage!

Scroll down to see it in action!


Stokke Ride Box Green


Stokke Ride Box Pink Lemonade


Stokke Bed Box in Blue with boy


Stokke Bed Box in Mint Green with boy



Stokke Bed Box Green


JETKIDS by Stokke BedBox



Available in more colors




The best car seat & stroller for kids travel


When choosing a car seat and stroller, you’re going to want to focus on two very important things: lightweight and compact! Thanks to WAYB and Babyzen, we have options that can fit in airplane overhead compartments and ride on our carry-on luggage.


WAYB Pico Car Seat Jet


WAYB Pico Car Seat Jet


WAYB Pico Car Seat in Jet


WAYB Pico Car Seat



Available in more colors




Babyzen Taupe YOYO + Stroller - White Frame


Babyzen Taupe YOYO + Stroller - White Frame


Babyzen Taupe YOYO 2 Stroller – White Frame



Available in more colors




Must-have travel toys for toddlers


It is helpful to be equipped with the right tools so you don’t add ‘boredom’ to the list of possible reasons for a meltdown. Traveling is one of these times that it’s ok to pull out the stops and bring out some exciting and portable toys /activities.  But, don’t think that you need to buy a new toy EACH time they travel.

Getting the right toys /activities and limiting their use except for travel is a great way to attract (and hopefully keep) your child’s attention and focus.

Here are my picks from The Tot:


#1 A Comforting Object


Be sure to bring a comforting object, travel—especially flying—can be an overwhelming experience and your kiddo’s reassurance item (e.g., a plush toy, a blanket) is a must-have when you need to quickly soothe an upset child.


Albetta Cotton Velvet Midi Leo Lion Toy


Albetta Cotton Velvet Leo Lion






Maileg Medium Hippo


Maileg Medium Hippo







HART + LAND Organic Cotton Tiny Galaxy Blanket









#2 Books


Books are a great travel item.  Find new ways to read them, such as talking about the pictures or playing “I spy.” You can also opt for an interactive book like the language books from Habbi Habbi or the musical books from The Story Orchestra!


The Story Orchestra Swan Lake


The Story Orchestra – Swan Lake





Habbi Habbi Book of Careers, Volume 1 + Reading Wand - Spanish


Habbi Habbi Starter Set + Reading Wand – Spanish









Habbi Habbi Starter Set + Reading Wand – Chinese







#3 Magnetic Toys


As I have learned, searching for parts and pieces of toy sets is NOT an ideal activity on a plane. To avoid this, I LOVE magnetic toys /activities like these magnetic game boards from Floss & Rock and magnetic dolls from Petit Collage.



Floss & Rock Mermaid Magnetic Fun & Games


Floss & Rock Mermaid Magnetic Fun & Games 






Petit Collage Best Friends Magnetic Dress Up Play Set

Petite Collage Magnetic Dress Up – Best Friends






Petit Collage Superheroes Magnetic Dress Up Play Set


Petite Collage Magnetic Dress Up – Superheroes






#4 Mess-Free Arts & Crafts


Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards - Selfie Boards Lifestyle


The good news is: crayon does come off an airplane wall. Markers? Probably not! Here are our picks for mess-free arts & crafts!


Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards - Selfie Boards

Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards – Selfie Boards






Janod Emotions Magnet Game

Janod Toys Emotions Magnetic Game






Olli Ella Play N Pack Forest AW19


Olli Ella Play’N Pack – Forest







#5 Tablet


Personally, I like to try and exhaust my other options before pulling out the tablet. However, I must admit, a tablet can be a great travel buddy for a toddler. You can explore a new app together; let them listen to some favorite songs, etc.  There are so many great apps now that are fun and can promote a child’s development—so try to focus on these instead of cartoons /movies.

Alternatively, you can try something like the Lunii! Complete with a headphone jack, kids get to choose the hero, setting, second character and object of their story and then voile: story time!


Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller


Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller






How to make snack/mealtime easier while traveling:

Snack or mealtime can be a great activity on a plane, but it is not the time to try a new food or load kids up with sugary treats.

Be conscious not bring food that is loaded with sugar which will induce a sugar high followed by the inevitable crash. This can lead to challenging behaviors and let’s be honest, it’s not good for their little systems. Some great snack ideas include pre-cut fruit or vegetables, crackers, dips etc. However, I do think it’s always helpful to have some type of special treat on hand just in case you need it – but this is up to you.

Here are my favorite non-toxic travel food storage containers and drink bottles:


The Tot Feeding Sets: On-The-Go (1 year +)


The Tot Feeding Sets: On-The-Go Travel







PlanetBox Shuttle Lunch Box


PlanetBox Shuttle Stainless Steel Lunchbox






Zip Top Baby Snack Container Set


Zip Top Silicone Snack Container – Set of 4






PlanetBox Stainless Steel Water Bottle


PlanetBox Stainless Steel Water Bottle (18.8 oz)



Available in more colors





How to manage meltdowns while traveling with kids:

If your child has a meltdown, don’t feel embarrassed; most people have been in the same situation.

You need to remember to stay calm, do what you do at home, do not yell or threaten, focus on your child, and try to redirect them.  Most likely they are tantruming from the change in schedule or the unfamiliar situation, which can be reasons for fight or flight behaviors.  To help calm your toddler try things like walking, singing, playing with an item, offering a snack, and giving lots of cuddles and kisses.

Learn more in: Seeing Red: How To Deal With Toddler Tantrums



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