Tips on Traveling Solo with a Toddler
I travel a fair amount with my 5-year old especially in the past year. She is very much of a trooper that enjoys traveling as much as I do and is always excited to be going somewhere. However, traveling alone with her, while it has gotten easier as she has gotten older, can be challenge. Here are a few tips I have used over the years to maximize the experience.
- Know your child and plan accordingly. My daughter isn’t much of a risk taker and will not do certain activities (such as a catamaran cruise) or see certain kid movies (she ran out of Trolls movie as she couldn’t bear that Trolls were being captured) or explore certain areas where she thinks she will be afraid. Therefore, I plan activities that I know she will enjoy plus one or two to push her a bit out of her comfort zone and try new things.
- Go with the flow. Make plans with a pencil as kids can be unpredictable especially when they are out of their usual routine. On a recent cruise my daughter was very combative and tested boundaries. I couldn’t relax after battling with a 5 year old in a tiny cabin every morning. I went with the flow, took deep breaths and dropped her off at the kids club as soon as it opened. As a photographer, I have released the need to take iconic shots or explore unchartered territory as sometimes my daughter isn’t up for walking another step; that instagram worthy shot sometimes isn’t worth physically carrying a 5-year old for an extra 1/2 mile.
- Take advantage of babysitting services especially if it is free. We go to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica every year and I love the kids club but even better, my daughter loves it more than I do. She gets to play with other kids, feed the fishes, do arts and crafts and take nature walks. I have no guilt about it as it allows me time to nap, go to the spa and do adult activities. Self care is always paramount.
- Let the kids help. My daughter takes her own bag on flights and I give her choices on what we can do on certain days as I seek to foster independence and confidence in her opinions.
- Include down time as small kids cannot walk as much as we can nor are they interested in all the historic sites and tourist traps. My daughter would prefer to be swimming at the hotel pool than exploring ruins and so I’ve learnt to build in downtime into the daily plan.
- Be prepared. Ari loves oatmeal so I travel with packs of oatmeal (and plastic bowls and spoons) she can have on flights or early in the morning before breakfast time. All is needed is hot water and most hotel rooms have coffee makers. I also always have cereal bars and crackers. I also bring along her iPad for flights and long car rides.
Please share in the comments your tricks and tips to make travel with kids easier and more fun.