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traveling with toddlers

Toddlers are energetic bundles of fun, but when they are cooped up for too long, they can turn into screaming tyrants. I’m sure everyone on a plane, train, or bus has experienced the frustration of a toddler who can’t to do what he or she wants. But, if you are prepared and packed correctly, you might manage to make it to your destination mostly problem free.

1.  Lots of snacks and drinks

To prevent the wrath of a hangry toddler, I’d suggest packing a variety of your toddler’s favorite snacks — now is not the time to introduce new foods, especially if you have a fussy eater. Snacking on a variety of textures and favorite finger foods will keep your toddler occupied, happy, and their tummy’s full.

2.  Tablet

I don’t think I could ever travel without a tablet when traveling with my toddler. If on a long flight, don’t put all your entertainment chips in the in-flight TVs — those frequently don’t work, don’t have toddler-friendly shows, and must be stowed at takeoff and landing. But, a small tablet can often be used throughout the flight, and can be loaded with your toddler’s favorite shows. Oh, and don’t forget the charger and an external battery pack!

3.  Toys, toys, toys

Other than a tablet, provide your toddler with entertainment in the form of manipulative toys to keep their little hands and curious minds busy. Some of our favorite toys to travel with are Duplo Legos, coloring books and crayons, and toy cars. Did you ever notice that your child becomes instantly fascinated by new toys? Take advantage of this by purchasing a few small, inexpensive toys that you can unveil in-flight. For example, toy cars, play food, or small dolls can provide a needed distraction. Also, easy to peel off stickers or decals (the ones that can be re-used) are awesome.

4.  Extra clothes

Prepare for the worst — an accident, spill, diaper leak, or any other disaster — with a complete change of clothes for your toddler. I’m sure they’ll be much happier to not sit out the flight in wet clothing.

Related: How To Make Any Destination Family Friendly

5.  Change of clothes (for you)

Didn’t make it out of that messy disaster unscathed, did you? Treat yourself to a quick change out of clothes covered in who knows what by packing a change of clothes for you, and maybe even whoever else you are traveling with. Toddlers are messy. You’ll hopefully arrive to your final destination looking fresh.

6.  More than enough diapers

If your toddler is still in diapers, be sure to pack more than enough. Delays do happen frequently and more often than not, airports are unfortunately ill-equipped to deal with their youngest travelers. Filling the extra space in your carry-on with diapers is always a good idea. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to bring a changing pad because diaper changing facilities aren’t always well-maintained.

7.  Wipes

Even if your toddler is potty trained (please teach me your ways), wipes do wonders for cleaning up both little and big messes. From messy hands and faces to purple crayon “decorating” the fold-out table, you’re going to need them.

8.  Books

I know books are heavy and you’ve already jammed your carry-on full of clothes, diapers, and toys, but I’d still suggest packing a couple of your child’s favorite, smaller-sized books. My little one really mellows out when reading (most of the time), so it could be the break they need. Also, if you will be traveling during nap or bedtime, keep in mind their routine — do you read before bed? The few books you bring along could help your child to prepare themselves for a snooze while in-flight, which is really a dream come true for parents.

An added bonus of packing so much in your carry-on is that you’ll be prepared if your luggage gets lost. I know we all hate to think about that, but it can happen. At least you’ll have a change of clothes and stuff to keep your toddler entertained while you sort things out.

Related: 8 Places To See With Your Kids Before They Turn 18

What are your traveling essentials?

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