diy disney: 10 travel tips for toddlers

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hi hi!  Me again.  I'm back with another post for Disney month!

Traveling with a toddler is no small feat.  These tiny tyrants dictate a lot of what happens on your vaca, so I think it's important to set your expectations accordingly.  And plan!  Here are my top 10 tips for traveling with toddlers.

For the Car:

1. Electronics are your friend.  Our girl isn't really one to sit in front of the TV and watch anything, but in the car, with nothing else to do, being able to turn on Mickey will save your sanity.  Several weeks before the trip, we bought an external hard drive that connects to the iPad via bluetooth and downloaded a lot of our movies onto it.  Our iPads are only 16GB, but the external drive is 4TB and therefore fit a bunch of movies without a problem.  2 different devices can access the drive at a time and watch 2 different things!  It was great.  We also bought a headrest holder for the iPad which was great.

2. Bring lots of snacks and drinks (and lots of options).  There are plenty of times when meltdowns can be avoided with the offer of a snack.  "I know you want to watch Cinderella but we're already watching Beauty & the Beast... how about a snack?"  Hey, whatever works, my friends.  I would also recommend getting small Glad containers that will fit in the cup holder of their car seat.  I filled several up with different snacks before the trip and had them within easy reach in the car.  Snack request?  Just pop the lid and slide it into their cup holder.  No fumbling with snack bags (and creating lots of trash in the car!) and saving leftovers is as easy as putting the lid back on.

3. Bring a blanket and lovie for naps in the car.  A/C can be chilly and toddlers sleep better with familiar things.

For the Hotel:

4. If you can swing it, get a suite!  That way, you can put the kids to bed in the bedroom and have an hour or two to yourself to watch TV, wind down, talk about what crazy hooligans you're raising, etc.  Single hotel rooms mean you'll put the child(ren) down and you and your significant other will be huddled under the covers watching the iPad with some earbuds.  Adjoining rooms are also great - kids in one, parents in the other!  I am NOT a morning person, so I like to make sure I have everything ready to go for the next day before I climb in bed at night.  Clothes laid out, backpacks re-packed, etc.  It's just easier to do when you're not tip-toeing over sleeping babies.

5. Download a white noise app on your phone or tablet.  The [loud] sound of the ocean will mask any noise you're making as you settle in for the night (unless you got a suite, in which case, you are my hero).  I think anyone sleeps better with some white noise going on and hotels are notoriously quiet.

6. Be flexible - it's vacation!  S2 goes to bed around 7:30 at home.  At Disney, if she was in bed by 10, I considered it a win.  Schedules are going to be interrupted, that's just the nature of vacation.  Some kids deal with it better than others, but it's only for a week.  When we got home, it took her a couple weeks to get back into her rhythm.  But she did.

For the Parks:

7. Bring your own stroller, and get a rain cover and a clip fan.  Just trust me on this.

8. Choose safety.  I know people frown upon baby leashes and I get it, I do.  In lieu of a traditional backpack leash, we used a velcro hand-holding strap.  One end was velcroed onto her wrist, and the other end was velcroed onto mine.  It was short so she couldn't get more than one step away but she felt like she had some freedom.  Toddlers in general like to do things themselves so instead of always strapping them into the stroller, see if there are other options out there to keep them safe (and to give your arms and back a rest from always carrying them).

9. Follow their lead.  If they want to color a picture for half an hour in the lobby of Mexico in Epcot, just let them.  Hey, it might give you an opportunity to sit down for a second, and there's nothing wrong with that!

10. Take plenty of breaks. It's good for you and it's good for them.  Either leave the park for a couple hours during the hottest part of the day or cop a squat in an air conditioned building for a while.  It will do you all some good.  One of my favorite memories was made when just hanging out outside The American Adventure in Epcot.  It was past her bedtime, there was a band playing, we grabbed some frozen lemonade and just danced.  Sometimes it's as much fun to take a break from all the rushing and just enjoy yourselves.

These tips aren't specific to Disney and could be applied to any road trip you're taking!

Here's a graphic to pin for later.

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