So I’ve been meaning to write this toddler holiday tips post for two months but haven’t got chance too. We set off on our travels in July, just me, Tom and Harley (and bump) for a week in sunny Spain.
Harley’s been lucky enough to travel abroad three times now, once at 5 months and last year when he was 17 months, and each time the experience has been so different. Travelling with a baby seems daunting but actually it’s probably the easiest holiday you’re going to get for another 15 years (take a read of my tips for travelling with a baby here) as they sleep ALOT, don’t need chasing around the pool and are perfectly content with watching you eat your dinner.
Travelling with a 17 month old (read my tips here) is very different. Odds are they’re walking and kind of talking, and have a mind of their own. But travelling with a 2 and 1/2 year old is a completely different ball game. I need to start off by saying we are very lucky, Harley has his moments but is co-operative 90% of the time. Having said that he’s also ultra stubborn and is going to do what he wants to do.
First big difference is the plane. Once toddlers turn two they need their own seat and I know this is going to open up a debate but I think it’s so unfair that you pay the same price for you as you do for the toddler who will spend approx. 12 1/2 minutes in their seat the whole plain journey.
Tip no.1: Ignore the calls to board families first.
First on the plane? Big mistake. You’ve just added at least 20 minutes of extra time of trying to get toddler to stay in the same place. Instead ignore the calls and be one of the last to board. It goes against everything I’ve ever been taught by my mum (soz mum) but it also meant we could allow Harley 20 minutes more of running around to burn off some energy.
Tip no.2: Buy toys. Lots of them.
Bribery always works. My mum told me that when we used to go away she’d give me and my sister a new toy (only something small) every 30 minutes or so during the flight. Works a treat. I raided Tiger and spent a small fortune but stocked up on water pens and pads, a travel fishing game and colouring books that keep Harley happy the whole flight. They were also super handy for meals out during the holiday too.
We were really luck on the flight, Harley was happy and content, although when it came to landing his ears really hurt so we were trying to get him to drink or suck his dummy. Landing is rubbish, especially when they’re supposed to stay in their own seat but just desperately want a cuddle.
After the plane, the holiday.
Tip no.3: Book a transfer to guarantee the car seat.
If you don’t have a transfer included with your holiday I’d definitely recommend booking your own to guarantee that you have a car seat suitable for toddler. It saves on the hassle of trying to find a taxi which has a suitable car seat and also super helpfully the driver will meet you at arrivals and help carry your luggage – big help! We booked ours direct with the apartments we were staying at but have also used Holiday Taxis in the past.
Tip no 4: Take your own portable highchair.
I have raved about this product so much in the past and it’s still serving us well – the Chicco Pocket Snack Chair. We used it both in the apartment and when going out for meals – it rather helpfully fits underneath our pushchair so we don’t need to carry it – FYI we use the Silver Cross Pop Stroller for holidays. And when I say ‘we use’ I mean mainly for storage as I don’t think Harley has sat in a pushchair since the start of the year. The chair takes stress out of mealtimes in restaurants because some places can have really flimsy highchairs that make you worry throughout or if you’re visiting during the busy periods they might not have any available.
Tip no. 5: Max out your storage on the iPad.
When it comes to dining out I always make sure we have enough snacks and toys/activities but it’s always worth having the iPad too. Favourite apps include the cBeebies iPlayer app, where you can download a number of programmes to watch offline, and the cBeebies Playtime app. I always save the iPad for worst-case scenarios – i.e. meals arrive and Harley doesn’t want his food instead wanting to explore.
Tip no 6. Throw out the routine.
It works for us. We have quite the routine at home for both naptime and bedtime but when it comes to holidays we find that getting rid of the routine works for us and usually equals more sleep too. Winner. At home Harley usually goes to bed at 7pm whereas on holiday it’s more like 11pm but he’ll sleep right through until 9am-ish, if not later, followed by a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. Harley’s a proper little social butterfly so doesn’t like to miss anything so trying to get him to eat and sleep before we go out during the night would never work for us.
Holidays are so different in Toddlerville but they’re also so much more fun as you now get to see it through somebody else’s eyes who is so excited to be seeing new things and exploring. My weeks of lying in the sunshine for eight hours a day and having Tom on the sunbed next to me to chat to might be long gone for 15 years or so but it’s so totally worth it.
Other things to consider:
- Handy snacks: Still a big fan of Ella’s Kitchen Smoothie Pouches over here. Always worth having a few in the bag.
- DVDs: Our apartment had a DVD player so I took along lots of Harley’s favourite DVDs, which was a God send. Definitely made getting ready of an evening much easier!
- Anti-bacterial wipes: I’ve always got a pack in my bag, just in case. In Spain they are not easy to find at all.
- Home comforts: Because I like to take everything and the kitchen sink, I took all of Harley’s home comforts including his plug-in nightlight – might sound extreme but definitely helped him to settle in a new bedroom.
If you’re heading off on your holidays, enjoy! Not jealous at all*.
The Aspiring Yummy Mummy. x