Travel tips: how to travel with your toddler and still have fun

It is no big secret that my husband and I bring our little toddler with us everywhere we go. We’ve never left him home alone, not just because we are a clingy family, but because I still breastfeed Tristan (I stopped pumping awhile ago and just direct latch). We’ve traveled to Europe (twice), the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and all around the Philippines with him (Baguio, Boracay, Batangas, Misibis Bay, Cebu, Bohol, and Camiguin), which makes our little boy incredibly well-travelled. Looking back, it has been quite a wild ride and to be honest, it is hard to believe we traveled that many times with our son.

No doubt, we have collected more than a few amazing family photos. But to be honest, these only tell 1% of the story (don’t believe everything you see on Instagram or Facebook), as bringing your baby/toddler with you can be tiring, both physically, mentally and emotionally (especially after a meltdown). Traveling with a baby is much different from what I was used to: you just cant pack in five minutes (you’re bound to leave something when you’re in a hurry), you cant be spontaneous and just fly to a new place on a whim (you have to do your research), and little things like having your baby’s favorite snacks and toys with you can make all the difference. Yes, being a parent really forces you to grow up and be responsible (struggling responsible parent here), because your baby’s mood, health and well-being is at stake here. I mean, of course, it is a vacation but as a parent you have to think 10 steps ahead (something my husband ALWAYS tells me) to ensure your little one is happy and healthy.

Now, the best way to ensure you have fun on a vacation with your toddler is to have everything covered. You have to be prepared and think way ahead, so you can curb any potential disasters. This will spell the difference between a good day and a bad day, and yes, when you’re on vacation you want all days to be good days!

So, here are my travel tips (based on experience), which I think can be applied to both short and long-haul trips. Oh, and if you can, bring someone with you on the trip—it can be your husband, mom, sister, MIL, or yaya. Because believe me, you will appreciate that extra hand especially when your flight has been delayed, it starts raining or snowing, or if you’re simply lost. Also, its nice to have someone to talk to, or take your photo haha.

Before anything, please remember that each baby is different, and what works for some may not work for all. I hope that these tips work for you and that you have a happy vacation with your little one!

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1.) Plan meticulously.
Being on top of everything, from the flight to the hotel/Airbnb to your everyday itinerary will ultimately make your life easier. Before any trip, I usually go on Google Earth and look at the neighborhood where we’re staying. I check the nearest restaurants, groceries, shopping malls and landmarks to familiarize myself with the area, and even research about local transportation like subways, trams, buses, etc. It is important for me to know all these so that I wont look like a lost tourist and so its easier to navigate and explore the city (a must when you’re with a toddler). Though it can be tedious to plan every little detail before the trip, it is worth all the trouble in the end because you are leaving nothing to chance.
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2.) Manage expectations.
Planning a trip is always exciting, which is why we all tend to go a little overboard when filling up our itinerary. That’s okay when you’re traveling alone, but when you are with your baby you may end up doing 30% of what you initially planned, if you’re lucky. Moving around with a baby can slow you down significantly, especially when you have feeding/sleep schedules, playtime and moods to consider. Not to mention all the things you need to carry–a stroller, baby carrier, diaper bag, toys, snacks, etc. My rule of thumb was when planning our daily itinerary for Europe was to only do two nearby destinations per day. The rest of the time was spent lounging in parks with our little guy. Plan as much as you can, but also be flexible with your schedule.
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3.) Delegate and ask for help.
Personally, this is something I struggle with as I always want to do everything myself. But after several breakdowns in a span of two years, I’ve learned to delegate to my husband and nanny, and yes, I now know how to ask for help. Moms, remember that it takes a village to raise a child, and that we really cannot do it all alone. I mean, we can, but we might end up a little coo-coo after haha. This is why I suggested in the beginning that you travel with someone!
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4.) Bring your baby’s favorite toys/activities.
Doing this will save you from potential meltdowns and added expenses from buying toys to appease a crying child. My husband and I always carry around Tristan’s little cars in case of emergencies, and it always puts him in a good mood. This is especially important during those “boring moments”, like when the family is in transit, while waiting for your orders in a restaurant, or exploring a museum. If you can, try incorporating park or playground time into your daily schedule!
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5.) Pack familiar snacks and munchies.
Never leave these things up to chance! I took this risk when we went to Europe, and Tristan did not like any of the local snacks I bought him. None! So after that, I made sure to bring enough of his favorite snacks. This allows us extra waiting time between meals, and it keeps him busy! His favorites are non-GMO chips and crackers, and low sugar cereals, which are apparently hard to find when traveling. Oh, and don’t forget to bring hand sanitizer so you and your baby always have clean hands–we love the one from Belo Baby!
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6.) If possible, stick to the old routine.
This is particularly hard to do, especially when dealing with different time zones. But something you have to implement if you want a sense of order in your day. Your child will also benefit from this, as he/she wont be so disoriented or confused with what’s happening. So, wake up a certain time everyday, and follow your usual naptime and eating times, and schedule everything around it. For us, this includes bath time and massage-time before bed, using our favorite Belo Baby bath products and lotion.
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7.) Have your stroller and baby carrier ready. Also comfy shoes!
Carlos and I never leave home without our trusty stroller and baby carrier from Aprica. They are super lightweight, sturdy and well-designed–really ideal for traveling. We have brought these with us all over the world and have never looked at another brand! Oh, and yes to comfy shoes! I always just pack white sneakers as they go with all my outfits. My favorite brands are Tretorn (from Res Toe Run), Ecco, Adidas, and Bata!
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8.) Be ready to play, run and amuse.
As early as now you have to accept that you will be your son or daughter’s personal clown/entertainer. So reserve the energy, patience, love and understanding for these moments, which will pepper your entire trip from start to finish. I think the earlier you accept this role, the easier it will be for you to just do it. The last thing you want is to snap or turn into scary mommy when your kid just wants to play. This is your chance to be a kid again–and, perfect timing, you’re on vacation! Also, don’t forget to bring Belo Baby powder when you’re going to a hot destination, and cologne so your active toddler smells good all day!
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9.) Capture as many amazing moments as you can.
My husband and I have one camera each so we can efficiently capture all the happy moments. What I like to do is immediately set my camera to the perfect setting when we arrive at a certain place/landmark so I just click away! You can also set your camera on Automatic Mode or Sports Mode–there’s no shame in that! We are busy traveling parents, after all!
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10.) Spend more time per place than you usually would.
My first Europe trip was when I turned 18, and I did one of those ‘visit 10 countries in 7 days’ tours. It was all a blur, and though I have photos to prove I had visited these places, I barely remember being there! That’s why Carlos and I made it a point to spend at least five days per city so we can really take our time to explore and enjoy the city with our little one. It might cost a little more, but believe me, it is so worth it!
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I hope I helped you plan your trip! Remember to have FUN, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Leave a comment if you have any questions!

  1. Tinka Reply

    How informative! I always travel with my 2 year old too, and I find it helpful that I pack a new toy (something he hasn’t seen before) when we get on a plane. It keeps him busy and quiet for a while. Haha. Thanks for the tips, supermom!

    1. Kelly Misa Reply

      Ah! That’s a good idea! I’ll try that as well. My son remembers his toy cars kasi and we feel it is like his security blanket (though he always ends up throwing them hahaha). Will try this for our next trip. Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂

  2. Cherie Reply

    Love the article! I have 4 yrs old son and been travelling with us before he turns 1 and I must say, its been a roller coaster but it was so much fun 🙂 they say, babies or toddlers won’t remember the trips but for me, I have the memories that I always remember 🙂

    1. Kelly Misa Reply

      Yes! That really stuck with me–when people say the trip is sayang kasi babies dont remember, but actually WE REMEMBER! Hehehe. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

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