Traveling with a Toddler: The Difference a Year Makes

At the beginning of June we took an awesome trip to California. There were several special family events happening within the same week, so we decided to make the journey to attend.  Last year, after a couple of flights with N, I wrote about 10 Tips for Toddler Travel. When I recently looked back at this post, I couldn’t believe how much traveling with a toddler had changed in a year. So, I wanted to give some updates to how traveling with a 2 ½ year old was different than last year’s travel with an 1 ½ year old.

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Purchased Airplane Seat for Toddler

Hands down, one of the biggest differences of this trip was N having his own space on the airplane. I talked about our decision to not do this last year and why I would buy a seat in the future. Let me tell you, IT WAS SO WORTH IT! (In full discretion, N is two and we were required to purchase him a seat, anyway.) Seano, N and I took up our own row so we weren’t trying to keep N’s feet off of a stranger and we had plenty of space below our feet for belongings we’d need in-flight. N got the window seat and watched in amazement as everything below got smaller during takeoff. When he fell asleep, he laid his head in my lap and body and legs in his seat for a comfy two-and-a-half hour nap.

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Diapers Vs. Potty Trained

We are done with diapers! So, instead of worrying about a blow out on the airplane I worried about him having an accident. Although he hasn’t had an accident in several months, I worried about the time during takeoff and landing when we are restricted to  our seats. N is very good about announcing he has to go potty but we don’t always have a lot of time to get to the restroom. To minimize this possibility, we headed to the bathroom about 10 minutes before boarding, took him to the potty before landing, and did our best to limit fluid right before and during the flight. We also brought a couple changes of clothes in our carry-on in case we ran into trouble. But, he did perfect. No accidents the whole trip! This also meant traveling without diapers or diaper changes. And, that didn’t break my heart at all!

More Independence & Understands Directions

N is more independent and understands directions now. These two things work in concert because the more he listens to directions, the more independence we can give him. He can walk by himself, feed himself, entertain himself for small amounts of time, carry small items, and many other things that ease the responsibility of caring for a toddler. These things also ease travel. Even if they are small tasks, it’s fewer needs that we have to meet.

Interest in TV and Movies

Let me first say, we let our son watch WAY too much TV on this trip. Because he has TV limits at home, it seemed like a treat to him and we figured, just for a week, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. I don’t know if you’re like us. But, during plane or car travel we often let things slide in order to make the trip more enjoyable for N, ourselves, and those around us. Because N will now sit down and watch at least a 30-minute chunk of a show or movie, we used the tablet on the plane, in the car driving from Sacramento to LA, and several nights while we were out to dinner. We’ve been traveling with him since he was born, so he’s a pretty good little traveler anyway, but TV and movies basically eliminated any restlessness or boredom that could have come up.

Daily Fun Breaks

Now that I’ve confessed how much TV my son watched, I will share one of the best things we did. We made sure to have at least one activity N would enjoy included in everyday. As I mentioned, we were visiting family, so there was a lot of visiting, eating and celebrating. While I could have done this for weeks without a break, I’m not sure the same is true for my two-year-old. For the first part of our trip, we stayed in a hotel. Every morning, N got to go swimming before we headed to any other activity. On the second part of our trip, we stayed with family. We very quickly learned N loved making mud cakes in their garden. So, we headed straight outside for pie making during any downtime. We also found playgrounds and activity areas in malls. Also, credit is owed to our family for being so flexible with us and making sure N had some really fun experiences, too!

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Other Differences:

  • No one tried to give my child food in the airport this time. I wondered if it was because my husband was with me or because N’s more of a boy than a baby now, but this was totally different than my last experience.
  • We didn’t board early this time and there wasn’t a problem with space or time, at all.
  • Since we didn’t board early, the waiting after we were on the plane was less painful. Also, since N had his own seat, I wasn’t worried about annoying our neighbors.

Check back Thursday for a sneak peek at our California trip.

If you liked this post, definitely check out these posts about traveling:

10 Tips for Toddler Travel

Why We Will Travel with Our Children

The Guilty Pleasures of a Traveling Mommy

An Unforgettable Girlfriends Anniversary

Build Your Blog Conference, Here We Come!

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