Traveling With a Toddler

3 months with no traveling….literally the longest we’ve ever been without going somewhere!

We took our first little road trip last week (full blog post coming on the Oakwood resort on Friday) and just like that, we were back into the swing of things traveling with a toddler. We thought we owed you all an updated blog post now that Eloise is a toddler and we’ve basically taken her everywhere (London, Paris, New York, etc) and have had our fair share of experiences – good and bad!

(Other travel posts from when Eloise was a baby are linked at the bottom of this post)

Tips for Road Trips:


  • If your child sleeps well in the car, try to time a portion of your drive during nap time.  We recently had a 2.5 hour drive to northern Indiana – Eloise generally naps around 1 PM – so we left around 12:30.  She slept most of the way.  


  • Make sure to pack the essential items to help your child relax (and hopefully snooze).  For Eloise this is her blanket, pacifier, her favorite stuffed animal.


  • If they can’t sleep, it’s all about distraction!  Pack some healthy snacks, water, and maybe a special treat for good behavior.  The ace up our sleeve are Annie’s Organic Gummies.  Not the healthiest snack of all time, but she loves them.  There’s a lot she’ll do for a pack of gummies!  She also loves goldfish, veggie straws, carrots, bell peppers, or string cheese (among others).


  • Another great distraction can be a new game, toy, coloring book – we’ve had a lot of success at the dollar section of target.  Eloise really likes the water color or invisible ink coloring books – and we do to – the marker will only work in the book.


  • Add their favorite soundtrack to your spotify or apple music and play it in the car.  Eloise will sing along to the Trolls soundtrack or will mellow out when she hears the music from the Leap movie.  


  • Last resort – screen time.  Again, can be a reward for good behavior, or if needed, as a pacifier if you have to.  Make sure you pre-download a favorite show or movie while you’re still home.  We have made the mistake of getting on the road (or worse, on a plane) and forgetting to download anything. 


  • Take breaks.  Don’t try to do the whole trip at once.  Sometimes a 30 minute stop for a bite to eat or just to stretch will make the rest of the trip that much easier.

Tips for Hotels:

We’ve stayed in a lot of hotels with Eloise – here’s a few of our favorite tips/ideas to try. 


  • Bring a pack & play.  Or, call ahead and have one placed in your room. (When we road trip, we bring our own that we’ve loved and used a ton – found on Amazon HERE).  Most hotels have them on hand, but don’t chance it, call ahead to confirm.  


  • Make sure there is a refrigerator in the room.  It’s worth a call ahead if you’re unsure.  Having Eloise’s favorite cold snacks on hand is a big factor in keeping everyone happy!  Plus, white wine for us.


  • If possible, splurge a bit and get the ‘slightly bigger’ room.  Having that little bit of extra room where you can put her bed at night has been huge for us.  She sleeps better when she can’t see us and we don’t have to climb over her to brush our teeth or attempt to open the door without making a sound.  This isn’t always an option, but for us it’s been worth the extra money where possible.


  • We like to try and stay in hotels that have a restaurant.  It can be slightly more expensive to eat there, but it’s generally a pretty sure-thing.  It’s also easy.   After a day or two of travel, being able to walk downstairs without reloading up a car or full diaper bag can be really nice.  Pack your bag for dinner with the essentials (diapers, wipes, snacks, a game or toy, and yes – the ipad or phone).  If 30 minutes of Disney+ allows you to enjoy a nice dinner and maybe a glass of wine – we’re all for that.  


  • Book a hotel that’s close to other food options and/or activities.  If there’s a couple of ‘do-able’ restaurants close by, that convenience is worth it.  Check out a map before you go, look at a few restaurant menus ahead of time, and make a reservation if at all possible.  We make a reservation for 2 adults and a high chair and always ask for a table with ‘any’ extra room if possible. 


One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven | Twelve


Tips for Flights:


  • We totally get it, flying with kids can be a challenge. A couple things to remember – just about everyone else on that plane has done it (or was too afraid to try).  They understand that it isn’t easy and (for the most part) will cut you some slack.  It’s also 2020, if you get on a plane without headphones (or if you’re one of those very few who think kids shouldn’t be on airplanes) I’m very sorry for you.  All will be fine….just do it.


  • Do not adjust nap schedules for flights.  We made this error early on.  We attempted to shift Eloise’s nap to fit the flight schedule.  We ended up with a cranky/tired Eloise who didn’t want to sleep as opposed to a happy camper that might sleep if we made her comfortable.  Pick the best flight (nonstop preferred) and work around it.  Bring snacks, toys, games, a blanket, pacifier, stuffed animal in your diaper bag.  We try to make her as comfortable as possible.


  • Eloise runs hot so we usually bring a layer and a blanket, but we have found that she is way more comfortable in cooler clothes, especially to start the flight.  For most flights she wears this Walmart track suit and just a little tee. Super easy to zip off the hoodie if she gets hot!


  • Bring Clorox wipes and wipe down the tray in front of you and surrounding surfaces.  We have always done this and will continue to now even if airlines have improved their cleaning standards with COVID.  That tray is one of the first things Eloise goes for on the flight and she’ll touch it constantly reaching for food/drink/toys/ipads.  We’d rather play it safe. 


  • We usually give Eloise the window – that little bit of extra room along with something to look at seems to be our best bet for a possible nap.  She can also stand in that little corner and have room to move around.


  • Bring something to chew on or drink during take off/landing.  She doesn’t know how to pop her ears when the elevation changes, but we’ve avoided any issues here and think this is a reason why.  (ex: lollipops, a sippy cup, a treat she might like to eat).


  • Pre-boarding for families is great on Southwest where you don’t have a seat, but if you’re flying another airline where you have a reserved seat, we skip it.  Or, send Dad ahead when your group is called with the luggage to reserve the bin space nearby.  Mom and Eloise are amongst the last people on the plane.  Your flight time is “air time,” so don’t spend more time on the plane than you have to.




I hope this helps ease your mind about traveling with kids…..if anything just do it. Take the trip. Figure it out along the way. Make the memories. Yes, it’s definitely different traveling with kids but it’s also so much fun!

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