Travelling with a toddler is different to travelling solo or even to travelling with a baby or an older child. No matter your experience level, you will find it more of a challenge. Your itinerary can make or break your journey. I’ve done all the hard work. I’ve made the mistakes. Through trial and error, patience and meltdowns, I’ve worked out how to plan the perfect toddler-friendly itinerary.
A little forward planning absolutely helps. This is where my Toddler Travel Tips come in!
Every Tuesday I’m posting my Toddler Travel Tips. This is part two in my three part series on creating a toddler-friendly itinerary. This week I’m focusing on how to work out time-frames. Last week we looked at how to plan a toddler-friendly route. Pop back to Flashpacker Family next Tuesday to read up on how to manage your day-to-day itinerary.
Working Out a Time-Frame
Slow down! Be prepared to adapt to a new pace of travel. Think about how the pace of your lifestyle has changed since you had a baby and how it’s changed again now that your delightful baby is now a renegade toddler. Extrapolate that to your travel style. Gone are the days of spending 24-hours in a city and cramming in as much you possible can. It’s just not feasible and you’ll both be a teary mess after a few days of this level of activity. If you’re a big family, you’ll need to go at the pace of your youngest family member.
Plan to do a third of the travel and activities you’d manage if you were travelling solo. If you think 2-3 days is long enough in each location as a solo travel, figure on at least 5-7 days if you’re travelling with a toddler.
Move less frequently and stay longer. Living on top of each other in a cramped hotel room gets old pretty quickly. As does packing and repacking a suitcase. Look into apartment rentals or guesthouses with a more homey feel instead of hotels. This allows you to get some sort of routine going, even if it’s just for a week.
This is the face you don’t want to see….
Factor in down time. Not just from the physical travel but from doing anything. Over stimulation will leave your toddler feeling wiped out, grumpy and fragile. Even just the sights, smells and sounds from taking a cab ride or walk to dinner each night could be too much. You can push your child through constant travel for anything up to one month, after that you’ll both need a decent break. Stay at a friend’s house or rent an apartment. Having access to a kitchen to make meals at home and space to spread out and play makes a huge difference.
Figure out how long you’re comfortable travelling for. If you haven’t travelled much, do a shorter trial trip first, a week or two somewhere easy. Six weeks is a great length of time for travel with small children. You can do a few weeks of quicker travel interspersed with a week of down time and repeat it. If you’re travelling longer term or doing a lengthy trip, like a 12-month round-the-world journey, you have the luxury of time. You can play with your length of stays and work out the optimum amount of travel vs downtime for your child.
Keep an eye out for next week’s post. In part three of this series I’ll cover how to tackle your day-to-day itinerary when travelling with a toddler.
Ask a question! Leave a comment! Share your tips for travelling with toddlers!