Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to travel with toddlers


When we decided to travel to Bali with Bella tagging along, I had quite a collection of responses from people around me.

Some of them were impressed, some were very supportive, and some, well, they just fail to hide their “fear” from knowing that we were actually asking for trouble.
It almost felt like they were asking me, ”Are you crazy?” straight to my face.
I just took it with a laugh.

To be honest, I was a tad worried with our decision, but sometimes, as a parent you really do not have that many options.

I admit that I still occasionally have the urge to go out and have some fun, just like the old days, and maybe travel alone with my husband, just like the days when it was only the two of us.But then again, part of being a parent is learning to let these things go, and most importantly learning how to have fun with parenthood and with your children.

I changed my mind set to focus on having a fun time travelling with a toddler, and that was what I got when we got home from the holiday.

If you ask me what tips that I may share with regards to travelling with toddler, well from my humble opinion and experience, these are the ones that I’d like you to know:

Be prepared. Very prepared.
Homework is the key. Do your research, as much as you can. Just google it up and you will find a lot of information about travelling with a toddler in a specific place. Sites like Trip Advisor helps a lot. Not to mention plenty of parenting forums that offer generous tips and discussions on how to handle toddlers. Learn from others and their experience, definitely useful. I came to know that there is a baby gear rental service in Bali, which is very helpful if you do not plan to take a bulky carseat/stroller along with you. If possible, try to choose a hotel that is child friendly too.

Keyword : CONVENIENCE and FLEXIBILITY
These are the kind of things that I always look for when I am with Bella, no matter how far or near we go. In travelling, we were ready to spend some money/time for convenience and flexibility, especially in terms of travel options. We paid a bit higher by choosing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) promo tickets, just because we knew that MAS is more comfortable than the other alternatives. In Bali, we hired a private driver to take us around (it does not cost too much in Bali, really), so that it’s easier if we have to change our plans/itinerary. You never know when a toddler can get so cranky or tired, and you just have to stop and rest. Plan the longest travelling time around your child’s naptime (not easy but possible).

Pack smart.
When you do your packing, always consider that you have a toddler tagging along. This will help you to reduce your load, perhaps by ditching the book that you plan to read, or that extra 4 inches heels that you plan to wear. Seriously, you do know that you will be too busy for the book right? Try to minimize your hand carry luggage, so that your hands are always ready to attend your child (hands free!). As for the diaper bag, always make sure that you have all the important items e.g some wet wipes, a burp cloth/napkin (which is always useful!), a change of clothes and some snacks.

Do a worst case scenario analysis (wow this sounds so technical)
Take some time to think about your child’s routine and behaviour. Perhaps you will be able to identify the worst thing that could happen (e.g tantrums) and how you can manage it. You may also discover ways to avoid the worst things in the first place. In my case, I prepared a fun bag for Bella to entertain her, and in a way it helps to occupy her time instead of risking her jumping down the aisle (although most of the time Bella slept in the plane, and was more interested in the LCD screen).


Bella's Fun Bag contents : Old and new toys. Stickers, Snacks and a book
The bag :)
Learn to calm down and think positive.
After identifying the worst case, understand that those things could happen. Be prepared to react calmly and firmly. No point being stressed out when your child stress out too, it just drains everyone’s energy.

Work together with your partner.
Remember to involve your partner/spouse all the way. You both need to work together, if not travelling with a toddler will be a total disaster.

Be ready to skip a thing or two. Keep perfection in the closet.
So you have all your itinerary ready, and basically the whole days at your destination will be occupied with a lot of sightseeing and interesting activities. However my friend, please make some note that those itinerary may not be working perfectly. As the saying goes, our children are the centre of our universe, so maybe, just maybe, your plans will revolve around your child too. In case this does happen, just try to make do and be happy. It’s not the end of the world if things do not work out according to plan.

So, that’s about it.

Like I said, travelling with a toddler is a whole new experience for me. Definitely no “travel in style” tagline applies, but it’s a memory and a whole chunk of family quality time that you gain there.

A toddler of Bella’s age may not remember the trip, but I already have a story to tell her when she is older. Not to forget the lovely scrapbook in progress too (OK I will blog about it too later :P)

Need some sources for your travelling homework too? Check out my previous entry on travelling with Bella here. I have linked up some useful resources for you to start with.


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