When we first travelled overseas with our daughter Lili, she was almost two years old – 21 months to be exact. We went to visit my family in Poland, we stopped by Paris to see our friends, and we went to Croatia for a week.
Honestly I imagined it would be extremely difficult, and I anticipated that we would be managing tantrums on the plane, struggling to put her to sleep in the hotel and generally dealing with her out of balance behaviour. But there where no tantrums on the planes – and we took 5- nor buses nor boat. She was easy. Surprisingly easy, and happy.
And here are the five strategies that helped us travel :
1. Sticking to routine :
Yes, even on vacation, going from one place to another, sightseeing and visiting family and friends we stuck to our normal routine.
Lunch at her usual time, whenever we where, and nap just after lunch: in the hotel room, on the bus, in the stroller, or on the plane. What was important , was to give her a clear sign that now she can relax, drink her milk, cuddle her favourite toy and sleep.
Then diner at her usual time. And bath ( or shower) followed by night time just like at home.
Sure we didn’t go much at night, and where a bit less spontaneous then usual on vacation, but in the end we had an easygoing, happy and relaxed toddler, so I think sticking to routine was really worth it.
2. Carrying toys around :
We where always carrying around her little backpack with crayons, puzzles, Elmo colouring pages and little dollar store toys and stickers, so she would be patient at the table in the restaurant.
We never let her play with these stuff outside the restaurants or plane so she always fund them interesting. If you would like to get some Sesame Street colouring pages for free, you can get them here : http://pbskids.org/sesame/art/
3. Dealing without changing tables and high chairs:
Although places we went where generally children friendly, a lot of times there where no high chairs or changing tables. So we carried only the slip-on dippers, to facilitate the changing process.
And to deal with a lack of high chairs I asked my aunt to make me a slip on carry-on chair slip cover (you can also find them in Etsy), that we would use all the time to keep her attached to normal chair. Coupled with these giant, genus IKEA bibs :http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/70179754/ that cover everything, meal time was easy, no fuss and no mess.
4. Finding time to run and play:
After time spend attached, or sitting on the plane/bus/stroller we always give her time to run and play, either on a playground, beach or just by simply finding safe pedestrian streets or squares and telling her to run. One of us would be then running with her till she had no more energy.
5. Medicaments :
Just in case, I had some stuff for temperature, diarrhea, and cough. It made me feel safe. But what really helped us was the medicament for sea sickness: Gravol for kids, so every time we would be taking a longer drive in the bus/car or on the boat she would get some, and then not only there was no stress of her vomiting all over the place, but she would also had a nice long nap.