Long Distance Travel With Toddlers: What You Need

Taking kids across the country or abroad can be daunting. It can also be life changing. Tot Mama of two and American expat, Summer Land, shares her tips for traveling and exploring the world with toddlers.

long-distance-travel

As an American living in Australia with two kids under five, I’ve had A LOT of practice traveling internationally with babies and toddlers.

Being able to see my friends and family and watching my kids explore the world around them makes the 36 hour door-to-door adventure totally necessary. In an effort to pay it forward, I’m here to share what I’ve learned along the way.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • Mentally preparing for long distance travel with toddlers
  • Advice for long distance travel with toddlers
  • The best products for long distance travel with toddlers
  • Materials and ingredients to avoid in kids products

Scroll down to learn more.

 

Mentally preparing for long distance travel with toddlers

 

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I think that one of the best ways to prepare for traveling with a baby and/or toddler is to set expectations from the start.

  • Accept that their may be tears. (From both you and your child.)
  • Accept that you might get a dirty look from a grumpy traveler. (It’s not personal.)
  • Accept that their will be sticky hands, poo explosions, and VERY dirty clothing.
  • Accept that it’s going to be hard and prepare to work your butt off. You’re going to be singing songs, playing “Ride A Little Horsey” and naming inanimate objects for HOURS.
  • Accept that it’s going to probably take you longer than usual to get where you want to go.

 

Advice for long distance travel with toddlers

 

summer-family-travel

 

Flying?

 

I may be a worrywart, but I always arrive for an international flight at least 3 hours early.

With the airlines we fly, we’re not always guaranteed a bassinet seat until check-in and even though your baby may not want to be in it – you’re going to want the extra storage space and to be near the other moms and dads. These people are your tribe. So are the flight attendants. They want your baby to be quiet as much as you do so don’t be afraid to ask for a bottle to be warmed up or if they have a banana left over from first class. (Unless you’re in first class and then may I suggest gifting your banana to the toddler in Row 59C?)

When it comes to boarding – I never rush to get on and settled. I use this time to let my kids run off some energy. I also like to talk about what to expect on the plane. If you’re potty training – getting up can be difficult so I’m going to go ahead and just own that I put my toddlers in pull-ups throughout the flight. However, I still ask them if they need to go and encourage them to try.

If your kids are a bit older, they may have an attention span for the inflight entertainment or a tablet. Some parents may worry about the screen light keeping them awake, buy my kids seem to sleep okay. (This also gives me a solid hour to eat my meal in peace!) However, I do know of some pretty awesome screen-free options! (They’re listed below!)

I also recommend bringing more outfits than you think you’ll need.

When my daughter, Daisy, was 11 months old we had an unexpected 10 hour layover at LAX and she wanted to do nothing but CRAWL. The knees of her special travel outfit were black from all the grime on the floor! On that note – also bring a bag for dirty clothes, a bag for garbage, wet wipes, natural hand sanitizer and be sure to wash everyone’s hands at every opportunity. There’s nothing worse than sick kids while traveling.

 

#TotTip

Before you go – make sure you’re all up to date on your immunizations and everyone is healthy. It’s helpful to pack a thermometer and any other first aid items you might use for a rough night at home.

 

Driving?

 

If you’re planning on hitting the open road, try to work your drive times around your toddler’s sleep schedule. I also suggest breaking up the trip.

For example, my mom and I went on a multi-state two week road trip when my kids were 1 and 3. We always tried to leave after dinner and bath and would drive until about 10 or 11pm at night. From there, we’d simply transfer my kids into a hotel room. Note: I would NEVER recommend driving so late alone, but felt safe with my mom driving. By doing the bulk of the driving during their sleep, our days were much more peaceful.

Just like with flying, you’re going to make sure you have plenty of extra clothing, wet wipes, snacks, diapers/pull-ups and entertainment!

 

The best products for long distance travel with toddlers

While I know you don’t want to add even more to your packing list, I promise that the below products are total life-savers when it comes to traveling with toddlers.

  • Travel stroller
  • Carrier
  • Diaper bag backpack
  • Extra outfits, PJs & blanket
  • Wipes & diapers/training pants
  • Food storage & water bottles
  • Toys & activities
  • Travel car seat
  • Pack N Play (for when you get where you’re going)

Scroll down to see my picks for each!

 

 

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Travel Stroller

 

Babyzen Yoyo Bag in Grey

 

While you may be all sorts of obsessed with your current stroller because it can quite literally hold a case of wine in the under seat basket, chances are it’s not compact enough to easily hop on a plane, in a taxi or on the subway with.

That’s why I’m ALL ABOUT the YOYO 2 travel stroller. Offering the same durability, maneuverability and comfort as a full size stroller, this tiny but mighty option folds into a parcel sized package complete with a carrying strap. Celebrated for fitting in most airline overhead storage compartments, it’s also beloved because it’s car seat compatible, making it suitable for use from birth until 48.5 lbs. Adaptors and accessories sold separately.

 

Babyzen Yoyo2 Grey Stroller with Black Frame

 

Babyzen Yoyo 2 Stroller in Grey with White Frame

 

Babyzen YOYO 2 Stroller

 

$549.98

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Babyzen Yoyo Bag in Grey

 

Babyzen YOYO+ Bag

 

$89.99

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Baby Carrier

 

I think the #1 item I used the most with my kids was our Ergobaby Baby Carrier.

This thing is so comfortable, easy to clean and can help you soothe a fussy baby or tote a tired toddler! I love it because it can be adjusted to fit parents of all shapes and sizes and offers front, back and side wearing options.

 

Ergobaby 360 Cool Air Carrier in Pearl Grey

 

Ergobaby Omni 360 All-in-One Cool Air Mesh Baby Carrier

 

$180

BUY NOW

 

 

 

Diaper Bag Backpack

 

Once you have a toddler, you need to be able to have your hands free. That’s why I swear by backpack diaper bags.

Currently, we are LOVING this eco option from Jem & Bea. Complete with a travel change pad, wristlet and internal pockets to keep you organized, it’s also super stylish.

 

 

Jem and Bea Eco Backpack

 

Jem & Bea Jamie Eco Backpack 

 

$245

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Extra outfits, PJs & blanket

 

I don’t know why or how, but toddlers become even messier when on the road! I always advise having plenty of back up outfits. In fact, have an outfit for getting to the airport, being at the airport, sleeping on the plane (x 2) and one for getting off the plane!

The other thing to consider is WHAT the clothing is made of. Because cars and planes can be quite stuffy, it’s best to dress your tot in breathable and moisture wicking fabrics like organic cotton or bamboo rayon.

Does your toddler get cold? Same. Always travel with at least two swaddles and a blanket. They’re fantastic for keeping kids warm and snuggly when they finally do drift off to sleep.

HART + LAND long sleeve bamboo shirt

 

HART + LAND Baby/Toddler/Big Kid Bamboo Long Sleeve Crew Tee

 

$20

EXCLUSIVE

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Hart + land bamboo leggings

 

HART + LAND Baby/Toddler/Big Kid Bamboo Leggings

 

$20

EXCLUSIVE

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

 

Kyte Baby Pajama Set in Slate

 

Kyte BABY Toddler Bamboo PJ Set

 

$32.99

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

hart + land toddler/big kid pima cotton pj set - banana leaves

 

HART + LAND Toddler/Big Kid Pima Cotton PJ Set

 

$50

EXCLUSIVE

BUY NOW

 

 

 

LouLou Lollipop Odessa Swaddle rolled up

 

Loulou Lollipop Odessa Swaddle

 

$25

BUY NOW

 

 

 

Loulou Lollipop Swaddle in Tacos

 

Loulou Lollipop Bamboo Muslin Taco Swaddle 

 

$25

BUY NOW

 

 

HART + LAND Organic Cotton Heather Grey Solid Baby Blanket

 

HART + LAND Organic Solid Blanket

 

$40

EXCLUSIVE

BUY NOW

 

 

Wipes & Diapers/Training Pants

 

My daughter stopped using diapers around 2, but when we traveled, I always convinced her to wear training pants JUST IN CASE. I would explain that I trusted her to know when she needed to go, but that she might not have the opportunity.

At the same time, my son was still in diapers. It’s incredible how many more you seem to go through! I don’t know if he was drinking more liquids or what, but pack more than you think! Oh and WIPES. Your need ALL the wipes.

 

Nest Diaper Size 4

 

nest diapers 

 

Ranging from $57 to $65

Available in more sizes

BUY NOW

 

 

Nest Training Pants Size 4

 

nest training pants

 

Ranging from $52 to $54

Available in more sizes

BUY NOW

 

 

Coterie Baby 8-Pack Wipes

 

Coterie 8 Pack of Wipes (56 in each)

 

$47.95

BUY NOW

 

 

Food storage & water bottles

 

Is there anything worse than an overly tired kid? Yes. An overly hungry kid!

Keep your tot cool, calm, collected and well-fed with ample snacks. Try opting for things like fresh cut veggies, rice crackers, or granola. Definitely steer clear of overly sugary processed foods that may result in a meltdown! Also – don’t forget about yourself! You”ll be working HARD so be sure to fill up a water bottle for yourself as well!

 

 

The Tot On The Go Feeding

 

The Tot Feeding Sets: On-The-Go 

 

$119

EXCLUSIVE

BUY NOW

Zip Top Baby Snack Container Set

 

Zip Top Silicone Snack Container Set of 4

 

$34.99

BUY NOW

 

 

Thinkbaby Sippy of steel

 

Thinkbaby Sippy of Steel

 

$13.99

BUY NOW

 

 

PlanetBox Shuttle Lunch Box

 

PlanetBox Shuttle Stainless Steel Lunchbox

 

$39.95

BUY NOW

 

 

 

PlanetBox Stainless Steel Water Bottle

 

PlanetBox Stainless Steel Water Bottle (18.8 oz)

 

$24.95

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Toys & activities

 

I guarantee that 2 minutes into your journey, you’ll hear a groan of boredom. Don’t worry – the below toys and activities can help.

All perfect for helping to redirect your tot, they also offer an element of educational fun!

 

Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards - Selfie Boards

 

Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards – Selfie Boards

 

$29.99

Includes pack of dustless chalk

BUY NOW

 

 

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

 

Habbi Habbi Starter Set + Reading Wand – Spanish

 

$99

EXCLUSIVE

Includes headphone jack

BUY NOW

 

 

HabbiHabbiFullStarterSetChinese

 

Habbi Habbi Starter Set + Reading Wand – Chinese

 

$99

EXCLUSIVE

Includes headphone jack

BUY NOW

 

 

Petit Collage Magic Drawing Board

 

Petit Collage Doodle + Draw Elephant

 

$35

BUY NOW

 

 

Olli Ella Play N Pack Forest AW19

Olli Ella Play’N Pack – Forest

 

$29.95

BUY NOW

 

 

Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller

 

Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller

 

$79.90

Includes headphone jack

BUY NOW

 

 

Petit Collage Superheroes Magnetic Dress Up Play Set

 

Petit Collage Magnetic Dress Up – Superheroes

 

$24

BUY NOW

 

 

Petit Collage Best Friends Magnetic Dress Up Play Set

 

Petit Collage Magnetic Dress Up – Best Friends

 

$24

BUY NOW

 

 

Travel Car Seat

 

Depending on what type of trip you’re going on, you may need a car seat once you get where you’re going.

The WAYB Pico is a total game-changer and you need to know about it. Incredible safe and comfortable, this wonder chair folds into an easy to carry package!

 

WAYB Pico Car Seat Earth

 

WAYB Pico Car Seat

 

$320

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

WAYB Pico Travel Bag

 

WAYB Pico Travel Bag

 

$50

BUY NOW

 

Pack N Play

 

Again, depending on where you’re going (and the age of your toddler), it might be wise to bring a travel crib. We love the Nuna Sena Aire because it’s so easy to open and fold and actually provides comfort!

 

Nuna Sena Aire Graphite Pack N Play

Nuna Sena Aire Travel Crib

 

$349.95

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Materials and ingredients to avoid in kids products

When shopping for any type of kids product (shoes, strollers, toys…) selling points like ‘water-resistant fabrics’ and adjustable toy bar may sound dreamy, but the reality could be much darker. It could mean that they’re sprayed with a PFAS chemical and potentially harboring BPA, BPS or harmful phthalates.

At The Tot, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use with our own family. That’s why we created The Tot Safety Test. Every singly product we have on the site has been reviewed by our Green Living Expert. This means we’ve reviewed third-party testing and certifications.

Here are the main ingredients/materials to watch out for in kids products:

  • PVC

  • BPA + BPS

  • Harmful phthalates

  • PFAS chemicals

  • Lead and other heavy metals

  • Flame retardants

  • VOCS

  • Toxic dyes + inks

You can learn more about the ingredients we avoid and WHY by clicking here.

 

 

Continue exploring