The Terrible Traveling Toddler’s Take on Vacation

Little boy of three years having fun and playing with water by the outdoor swimming pool

Your toddler will insist that his or her needs be met. Oh boy. Your toddler has opinions. And they so often differ from your own. Your disruptions over the dinner table have nothing on the possible explosions at the beach. At home, you can send your toddler off to steam in his or her room. On vacation, however, you have another battle: you want to retain all the fun and life you’ve envisioned for your family. But you also can’t put up with tantrums.

It’s best to try to avoid the pitfalls in the first place. Toddlers don’t take well to change, generally, unless it lies in the form of a new toy or a piece of candy. Remember to always narrate whatever you’re doing to make your child feel included in the various strange things that are occurring. This is potentially your toddler’s first overnight trip away from his or her room. For example, when you’re boarding the plane, be sure to acknowledge the strangeness of it all by giving your toddlers the right descriptions in order to push understanding. Tell him or her about the stewardesses, the pilots, and all the other passengers flying to places all over the world. Be sure to be clear and direct. Furthermore, prior to leaving for your destination, describe the place in which you’ll be staying to arouse curiosity and excitement in your child. This allows them to look forward to the destination and not to fear it.

Remember when choosing a destination that your toddler doesn’t like museums and waiting in line at home; he or she probably won’t like museums or waiting in line on vacation either. Be sure to understand that frequent naps are in order; all the extra stimulation will wipe your child out completely. Furthermore, always keep some extra, familiar snacks on hand. Your child will want a reminder of home when fueled with all the strangeness of the outside world.

Your toddler will expect celebration from your trip out of your home. He or she will expect carousels and animals and special treats. Your child will want to run wild in a park, be that an amusement or simple, woodsy park. He or she will expect to spend quality time with you; and he or she will expect not to spend too much time away. All the excitement will become too much for them after several days.

To summarize:

  • Toddlers are assertive young adults. Pay heed. Talk to them about traveling. Prepare them. Excite them.
  • Be sure to keep zoos, safaris and/or parks on your itinerary.
  • Pack some snacks from back home, for when your toddler feels overwhelmed with unknown territory.

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