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Toddler Traveling Tips: 5 Steps to Keep Them Happy

Toddler Traveling Tips: 5 Steps to Keep Them Happy

I am about to embark on a journey.  One that I sure will have its ups and downs, moments of frustration and moments of pure magic.  I am traveling to Walt Disney World with my about-to-be two-year-old son.  This is not his first trip to the World, and his brother visited as a toddler as well, so I am well aware that the key to survival is to be prepared, as the Boy Scouts say.  So, today I am going to share with you my tips for traveling with a toddler, and I hope that you will share some with me too!

 

  • Keep Them Fed None of us are happy when we are hungry—those Snickers commercials tell us that—and toddlers especially have a very low tolerance for hunger.  Often they don’t tell us they are starting to get hungry until they are at critical mass and set for a meltdown.  Because we can’t always get to the popcorn cart or Mickey Bar salesman at the moment hunger strikes it is best to keep a supply of snacks in your park bag (and if you have a toddler you MUST have a park bag).  Some of my tot’s favorites that are easily transported:  goldfish (Disney even sells the equivalent of these crackers in the shape of Mickey Heads); fruit pouches like GoGo Squeeze (delicious, nutritious and portable), Cheerios, and other snacks.  If you check the baby food aisle at your local Target you will find lots of toddler snacks either individually wrapped or easy to portion.  Don’t forget to pack some Ziploc bags‼  Another thing I’m planning to pack is a few of his “sippy” cups.  These are familiar to him, won’t spill in my bag (if I get them put together correctly), and can portion out drinks that way may need to purchase in the parks.  I will have milk and juice in our resort fridge and we are bringing bottled water.   I also fill one of my favorite HydroFlasks with his beverage of choice and that keeps it chilled all day—even milk.  If you are flying and can’t pack all of these snacks, don’t worry—Mickey has plenty of toddler friendly snack items for sell in the gift shops and at the carts around the parks, even fresh fruit.
  • Keep Them Entertained.  Yes, Walt Disney World is entertaining, but waiting isn’t.  And even with the best touring plan there is still waiting—in line, for a parade to start, on the bus, or for dinner to be served.  Pack a few things in your bag to keep your toddler entertained.  With smartphones and tablets it is even easier to pack a lot of entertainment into a small space.  There are great Apps out there geared to toddlers—some of our favorites are from Sesame Street and Disney Junior.  From games to eBooks to music there is a lot to keep them happy.  I also like to pack books for my little guy.  These are a bit quieter, and he loves them.  Particular favorites are the “First Look & Find” these come in all types of themes (we have Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates) and have great activities to find objects, colors, shapes, etc.  They are a bit big, but with a toddler you have a big bag anyway.  Other great options are lift the flap books.  I paid a visit to a local used book store and picked up some Look and Find books for $3, and a consignment sale where I scored Elmo lift the flap books for 50₵.  If they get lost or damaged on vacation it is not a big loss.  Other ideas for entertainment are bubbles and light up toys brought from home—perfect for waiting for a parade or fireworks (and much cheaper than purchasing them at Disney), along with games like I Spy or songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider.
  • Keep Them Clean.  This is a huge challenge with toddlers!  From touching every hand rail within reach to spilling their ketchup all over their custom Disney outfit they are sure to make a mess and get their hands all germy.  Confession time:  I am a total germ-a-phobe especially at Walt Disney World!  In my park bag I always carry hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes for the tables in the restaurants.  I’ve also found some very cute Disney themed plastic placemats that have adhesive to stick to the table.  These work great because they serve 2 purposes—keeping them entertained and keeping their food off the actual table.  For diaper changes (or pull up changes depending on what stage your toddler has reached) I bring wipes and diapers, along with covers/pads for the changing table itself.  Disney does a great job with the changing stations in their restrooms, but I still like that extra layer between my little guy and whatever was there before him.  If you are worried about stains on clothing and don’t want to take time to do laundry on vacation you can always pack a Tide to Go stick or similar product to treat stains when they happen.  When it is bath time your Disney resort provides the cutest soaps with Mickey or Tinker Bell on them, but they are scented soaps.  If your toddler has sensitive skin like mine be sure to pack a soap you know won’t cause him any skin irritation.

 

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  • Keep Them Comfortable.  Keeping your toddler comfortable covers a lot of ground.  You want to dress them comfortably—Florida can be very hot, but in the winter it can get quite cold especially when you are out after dark to watch fireworks.  Check a forecast before leaving home and be sure to pack a jacket (even in the summer the air condition in restaurants can get chilly).  Also, I know it is magical to watch your adorable Princess all decked out from head to toe walk down Main Street to have breakfast with Cinderella, but consider packing a change of clothes for later in the day when all of that tulle gets hot and scratchy, and those cute shoes start rubbing blisters.  Another consideration is a stroller.  Even if your child has long outgrown a stroller at home you might want one at Disney.  A typical day could include 4 miles of walking (according to some pedometer accounts I’ve seen—and kept for myself).  That’s a lot for little feet, and the last thing you want is for your toddler to start whining midway through your day because they are tired of walking.  Speaking of midway through your day—try to keep your toddlers schedule as much as you can.  I’m sure they will sleep in the stroller, but a midday break for napping or swimming is really a must with a toddler—especially at the hotter times of year.  Finally, keep them comfortable at night.  You can request a crib (or pack-n-play) or bedrails at your resort to help them sleep—and don’t forget those comfort items from home, a favorite blanky, a paci if they still use one (and bring extras—those things disappear like socks in the dryer), and their must have stuffed animal.
  • Keep Them Safe.  Disney is a big and sometimes crowded place and a toddler asserting his or her independence could disappear quickly.  If they are old enough, be sure they know who the Cast Members are so they could go to them in an emergency.  It is also a good idea to give them some type of bracelet or temporary tattoo with your contact information so they can find you when you get lost.  Another way to keep them safe is to make sure they stay hydrated in the hot parks—water, water, water is a good rule for toddlers and adults.  And, slather on the sunscreen before your day begins and take it in the parks with you to reapply through the day.

With these tips we’ve been able to enjoy several magical trips with a toddler.  That’s not to say there haven’t been moments, but overall it was a great experience when we were prepared and flexible to recognize that unhappy children make unhappy parents.

So, what tips do you have to share with me for my upcoming trip?

 

About Sarah Chapman

I am a long time Disney fan since I was hooked on Walt Disney World with my first trip in 1987. Since that time I’ve tried experiencing everything I can in the parks, with a total of 30 visits and counting (I’m always planning my next trip) to Walt Disney World—not to mention Disney Cruise Line and even (shhh!) Universal Orlando and Sea World. I’ve turned my Disney obsession into a profession helping others plan their magical vacations as a Dream Vacation Maker at LBAC Travel. I am a work at home mom to three wonderful boys, and each one has been properly indoctrinated with all things Disney. Walt Disney World is definitely our “Laughing Place.” Look for me on Facebook at Facebook.com/SarahLBAC for updates, discount announcements, tips, tricks and planning advice for your next vacation. You can also find me on Instagram (sarahdreamvacationmaker) and Pinterest (sarahlbactravel).