6 must-haves for traveling with toddlers

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June 24, 2019

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Photo by: Diana of The Gray Ruby

I used to stress about the experience of flying with my toddler long before the flight even began. Just the thought of confining her into an area the size of a box for longer than a hour was terrifying. Add in the public eye, and you get what I’m saying here…

I’m always so grateful for the kind strangers who smile our way —whether it’s because they remember their own days of traveling with little ones, or just because they are generally people of good will.

If you have ever smiled at (or helped) a struggling parent in the airport before, I hope you know how appreciated you are.

But thankfully, 100+ plane flights later, I’ve picked up a number of tricks and tips from other moms I’ve met on planes. This collective knowledge has made our traveling process SO much easier, and less intimidating.

For those of you who are road warriors, I’m not forgetting you: we’ve done 15-hour trips with toddlers too. My road trip packing list is basically the same, but I’ll bring a few extra of some things since we aren’t as limited on space.

I have found that one of the most helpful things is to purchase just a few new things that your child has never seen before. It’ll help distract a child in the case of an impending meltdown, and make the time pass more quickly—for everyone involved.

Here are my 6 must-haves for traveling with toddlers:

01. Melissa & Doug Water Wows

These coloring products are truly genius. I  cannot say enough good things about these and they’re always my first recommendation to anyone traveling with toddlers. There’s no mess and it’s so cool to see how these work: it’s a water-brush that comes with a coloring pad and the pages turn color when the water-brush touches the paper. So simple but so fun! And a nice (clean) alternative to a coloring book.

Note: Be sure to fill this brush up with water before you take off.

02. Small Puzzles and Games

For 1-2 year olds, shape sorters (like this travel set) are fun to bring along!

This buckle toy. Practically every small child has a fascination with buckles. Great for hand-eye coordination, color-matching, and building fine motor skills, this one might buy you quite a bit of time.

How cute is this magnetic puzzle? For 2-3 year olds, this is perfect—and not bulky!

03. Sticker Books

For 2-3 year olds,  this sticker book is a great one. Your child may need a little adult assistance, but the stickers are large and not difficult to peel—simply placing the stickers on the item’s shadow. Good for developing coordination skills!

For 3-4 year olds, sticker scenes (like these) are fabulous. Kids get to design a farm or pet store—entertaining and creative.

04. Interactive Books 

This may be obvious, but whatever you do, try NOT to pack lots of thick, heavy board books (unless you can really prioritize room somewhere in the car). If you can keep it to just a few books that are interactive that’s key—and they won’t weigh you down too much.

For ages 1-2: Open-the-Flap Books. We love to bring some like this one. It keeps them doing something and moving (their hands, at least)!

For ages 2-3: Seek-n-Find Books. The process of “finding” an object or an animal can keep their attention longer than a normal book. Two we’ve enjoyed are this one and this one.

05. Ipad / Tablet

This Amazon tablet is $49.99—and, yes, we always bring one for variety (and a break) and it’s well worth the small investment. Download some shows ahead of time and you’ll be good to go.

06. Magnetic Doodle, Color Doodle Board or Coloring Books

For a new variation on a coloring book, try these magnetic doodle or color doodle boards!

For slightly older kids (approx. 3+), this LCD doodle board is only $10 and it comes highly recommended by multiple moms. I will be purchasing this year for our trip. Of course, a new coloring book is also nice addition to have with you too.

Aside from toys, books and gadgets, music can also be a big distractor for little ones. If they like to sing along to the ABCs on the road, bring a set of ear plugs for mom and dad and play that thing 25 times before they want to move on to Baby Shark.

Last but not least: don’t forget the snacks. We always bring plenty of snacks and special treats. Eating can be entertaining, and a treat can definitely help distract a kid in moment(s) of necessity.

Comment below and let us know what else you like to bring while traveling with little ones!

About the photo: Diana snapped this photo while on a family cruise. She wrote all about that trip here, and she also loves to write about motherhood on her blog, The Gray Ruby (she’s got a great list of road trip hacks too!) Find her on Instagram: @mrsblinks

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