Family Vacation Tips: Ideas For The Best Toddler Friendly Vacations

Low stress ideas for planning the best possible toddler friendly family vacation.

Traveling under the best of circumstances can be stressful, especially just getting from point A to point B, but traveling with a toddler is a whole new adventure in travel.

Numerous destinations are now offering activities suited to the youngest travelers. Some of the more popular choices are:

Theme Parks - Orlando, Florida is a natural destination when considering traveling with young children. The resorts cater to families and have many amenities in their theme parks such as baby changing stations and stroller rental. Many of the restaurants in the theme parks offer cuisine specialized for children and are very child friendly.

Cruise Lines- Many of the large cruise lines offer activities for children and even babysitting services. Cruises offer the ability to go to many destinations, but only unpack once - a very handy benefit for parents of toddlers.

All Inclusive Resorts - Sleep, eat and play all for one price. For budget minded families these types of resorts can offer the most bang for the buck. Check to make sure what exactly is included and what is extra.

One important thing to remember is that although many of the previously mentioned destinations offer activities for children, sometimes activities for children as young as toddlers are hard to find. A lot of activities require that the child be as least three or four before participating. Also, it's hard for many parents to leave their very young child into the hands of an unknown activity director or childcare attendant. A great option is to travel with another couple with small children, that way you can help look after each other's children, and even trade off babysitting so that you can have some alone time with your spouse. More than likely you have friends from daycare or playgroup that would love to get away just as much as you would. Your children would have a playmate and you could get a little freedom too.

Whether it's a vacation just a few short hours from your house or an airplane trip across the country, here are some important tips to remember.

It's vital to pack a diaper bag that has a few more essentials than you would normally take on your trip to the mall. Long layovers, breakdowns and delays can be made more comfortable by remembering to include these necessary items. A general check list is as follows:

Diapers - Pack one or two more than you think you would ever need

Disposable changing pads - For the obvious

Disposable baggies to dispose of dirty diapers and to transport soiled clothing

A couple changes of clothes for your toddler including PJ's.

Wipes - Good for diaper changes, and cleaning up after snacks

Juice or Milk - Small boxes work the best

Sippy Cups - To hold the milk or juice to minimize mess from straws

Snacks - Such as crackers, cookies and raisins. Whole wheat and low sugar options are the best choices

Disposable bibs, small plastic spoons

Other items to have on hand are:

Copy of child's birth certificate or passport

Medicines, first aid kit

A few quiet toys

Remember to bring a clean outfit for you as well, as things can get very messy when traveling with a child

Also remember to pack your toddler's favorite toys, blankets and pillows to ensure an easier time when you arrive at your destination.

When booking your accommodations, remember to ask for cribs or safety rails for beds - make sure that these meet up with the national safely standards. You could also bring along a pack and play type crib and portable safety rails if your hotel can not accommodate you. A room with a microwave and small refrigerator also come in handy for snacks; a kitchenette is even more useful.

Here are some tips for getting to your destination as cheerfully as possible:

Traveling by Airplane:

Most airlines will let you hold a child on your lap for free up until they reach the age of two. If there are available seats, and you have brought along your carseat, sometimes the airline will allow you to use an extra seat for your child. If you have brought your carseat to the terminal with the anticipation of using one of the extra seats, and there are none available, the airline personnel can check your carseat for you. After the age of two, a separate seat must be purchased for your toddler, usually at a discounted price.

When booking your reservation ask if the airplane that you will be traveling on has changing tables in the lavatories so that you can anticipate where you would need to change your toddler if you needed to in the air. Obviously, changing your child in the airport restroom right before you get on the airplane is best, but sometimes this can not be avoided. Check also if children's meals are available, and request this when you make your reservation.

Another item important in an airport is your stroller. Your stroller can be used up until the time that you board, at that time, your stroller will be checked and then brought up for you to use at your next layover or destination. Double check your airline's policy on checked and carryon luggage.

Many airplane travelers find that the bulkhead seats are the best when traveling with a toddler. The child has a bit more room to get down and move around a little. To keep your child occupied let them walk around (walk with them!). Be careful to try to keep out of the way of carts and the cabin crew

Traveling by Car

Plan your trip so that you can make use of your toddler's nap time, also plan bathroom and play breaks every 2-3 hours at the rest areas. Picnics are great for road travel, and are more suitable to an active young child than having to sit quietly in a restaurant. Bring a Frisbee, ball or other outdoor game to entertain and allow for some exercise. Other roadtrip distractions to be used when driving can be a DVD player with your child's favorite DVD, CD player with child friendly songs or stories, and books, puzzles and hand puppets.

Traveling by Train

Usually children under two can ride for free, and children over two can ride for discounted fares. As with air travel, make sure of seating arrangements and meals when making your reservation. Walking the corridors can help toddlers stay active until you reach your destination as will the same type of distractions previously mentioned under air and car travel. Dining cars, lounges, movies and other amenities often found on trains can also help keep children entertained.

No matter what you choose to do on your vacation or where you choose to do it, traveling as a family will make memories for a lifetime, but keep in mind that traveling with small children can be unpredictable. Keeping your sense of humor and allowing for some unplanned glitches is key to enjoying yourself and keeping your child happy as well.

© High Speed Ventures 2011