How to Travel with a Toddler

Before Lulu came we loved to travel. We took at least one vacation a year and typically went to a beautiful tropical location. Ahhh, those were the days. Before becoming pregnant, we agreed that a baby wasn’t going to change our lifestyle. We were still going to do the things we loved to do. We quickly learned it’s a lot easier said than done. But after a year of not traveling we needed a vacation and we needed it NOW! Of course we were worried about traveling with our rather high maintenance little princess, but we were willing to try. We decided to join my in laws on their annual week long trip to the Outer Banks. Our first family vacation was something we had talked about for awhile. We were so excited to spend an entire week together showing Lulu all of the amazing things to do on a vacation. Our family vacation had the potential to be a complete melt down disaster or an amazing family adventure. Luckily for us, it was the latter.  These are the 5 things that made our first family vacation a success.


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Travel with Family

If you are lucky enough to have family who is willing to travel with you definitely take them up on this offer! Sure,  it would have been nice for us to have our first family vacation be just the three of us but honestly, having family made the trip so much easier. On vacation, everyone loves to eat out at restaurants. Unfortunately for us Lulu can only manage to sit in a highchair for approximately 9 minutes before she absolutely loses her mind. Having family with us meant that we could take turns entertaining Lulu and our extended family loves spending time with her so they were more than happy to take her for walk breaks when she needed to move around. This made for a happy baby and happy parents. Our family was also more than happy to watch her one night so we could go on a date. For one night we got to pretend we were a young, carefree, childless couple enjoying a vacation. Having our extended family on vacation also meant there were other children there who loved playing with Lulu. They spent hours in the pool playing, took trips together to the swings and ran on the beach together. Seeing Lulu make memories with her cousins was a perfect way to spend our first trip together.

Drive to your Vacation Spot

There were many reasons we decided not to fly for our first family vacation. The obvious factor was to save money. It cost us under $100 to drive and it would have cost us over $800 to fly. Since we never traveled with Lulu before, we had no idea how she would do. As with most toddlers, she is incredibly unpredictable. We decided that we didn’t want to take the risk of having her on an airplane with other travelers who may not think her screeching is as endearing as we do.   We also knew that in order to keep Lulu happy for an entire week on vacation we would need to bring A LOT of stuff. Just the thought of how we could possibly fit everything we would need in a few suitcases was overwhelming. Driving allowed us to bring her pack n play, stroller, playpen, box of toys and everything else we considered essential in keeping our sanity and our baby happy. One item we couldn’t have survived with out was the Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Portable Playard. It made our time at the beach and by the pool so much more relaxing {see last tip}. It was super portable and easy to set up. Lulu loved playing with all of her toys while in the playpen and I loved knowing she was safely contained. You can purchase this vacation essential HERE. We also used the Canopy Cover to protect Lulu from the sun which could be purchased HERE. 

Travel at Night

Lulu is not a fan of car rides, especially not long ones. We knew that the only way we would all survive the travel would be for Lulu to sleep through it. We decided to leave right before her bedtime. We completed her entire bedtime routine so we could be sure that she was ready to fall asleep. After we completed the routine, we put her in her car seat and headed out. It only took a few minutes before she was asleep. I sat in the back seat with her so I could help soothe her back to sleep when she woke up. She slept through almost all of the car ride and it made for very peaceful travel. This is the only way I would travel with a toddler.

Try to Keep Routines the Same

We have gotten in the habit of a rather extensive bedtime routine {we are working on shortening it but for now this is what works for us!} and this is the only way Lulu knows how to fall asleep and stay asleep. She was already going to be sleeping in a new environment and a new crib so we really wanted to keep everything else the same. The only way to do that was to pack the books, sound machine, at least 12 pacifiers {she’s addicted…we’ll work on it} and everything else we needed to make this routine as similar to being at home as possible. We also tried to keep her on the same eating and nap schedule as we have at home. Keeping similar routines ensured that Lulu was a happy girl throughout the vacation. A happy baby means a happy Mama and Dada!


As important as it is to keep routines it is also important to remember you are on vacation! Loosen up on the Mama control and try to remember that it’s ok if they stay up a little later than normal, eat a little more ice cream than they should or get more spoiled than they ever would at home. Vacation is supposed to be fun for everyone!




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  1. I loved this and would’ve like to pin it for future reference, but there’s no pinnable image 🙁

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