Toddler Travel Tips


Jun 18th, 2008, 10:08 AM
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Toddler Travel Tips

Hi Everyone,
We just returned from a three week Italy trip, and I hope to post a real trip report soon. But I just wanted to post some travel tips for toddler travels because this forum was so helpful for me while I was planning my trip. My daughter is 3 and potty trained; we visited: Lake Como (Varenna), Bologna, Cinque Terre (Vernazza), Venice, Florence, and Rome.

Packing Cubes! The double sided one by eagle creek (REI) was perfect for my daughter's entire wardrobe. We did laundry three times during our stay, I packed about seven days worth of clothes. One side contained all of her dresses (3) and pants (3 long, 5 shorts/skirts). I chose shorts/capris that were versatile enough to go under dresses or be on their own. The other side contained her shirts and socks.
Freebie Lancome cosmetic bag held her undies (probably took about 9 just in case).
1 Fleece jacket for the plane and as cold weather. (The Children's Place)
1 rain jacket. (Target)
Toddler rolling backpack! (Target). It was a total lifesaver. We packed her things in here, mostly for plane/train rides.
Maclaren Volo Stroller - VERY lightweight, held up amazingly on the cobblestones, and the mesh was perfect for when it got spilled on. Would have been nice to have the recline of the Techno for naps though.
Toddler Harness - the puppy backpack one from Target. Probably better to get a dark color. Only used a couple of times in really crowded spots or when we were both occupied and she couldn't/didn't want to be in the stroller.
Sandals (Ecco)
Slippers aka flip flops, thongs (Reef) - only for inside the hotel or at beach. Do NOT use on traveling days! We almost lost a slipper when taking the train between Monterosso and Vernazza returning from the beach.
Shoes (Merrel jump breeze)
Travel Spray Neosporin
Children's Tylenol
Children's travel Benadryl (my husband ended up using it!).
Saline Solution (left from when we travelled with her as an infant, for clearing nose).
Nail clippers
She used our shampoo and conditioner, but when she was younger I packed travel sized J&J.
Hooded towel (Carters infant size) - really only used for beach.
Rubber bands, Hair Bows
Sun Hat (Gap) - recommend white one with chin strap.
Spray Sunscreen (Coppertone)
Face Sunscreen (L'occitaine) - she uses mine)
Travel size hairbrush (Conair) - we share
Cliff Bars
Box of Cereal Bars (Trader Joes)
Travel Size Box Milk that don't need to be refrigerated (Trader Joes) - only took two and in most places you could buy milk. We stocked up on juice boxes while we were there.

Kumon Tracing Book
Kumon Folding Book
Fancy Nancy Sticker Book
Random Sticker Book
Color Wonders Coloring Book
2 paperback books (Richard Scarry & Little Critter)
Crayola first scissors (only cuts paper)*
Color Wonder Markers*
Glue Stick*
* All in ziplock bag
Jellybeans for ears

Toddler Friendly Spots
All of Italy (I'm only half joking because they really do LOVE children).
Bellagio (Como) - Garden Melzi, very beautiful and calm. Entry charge for adults around 4E if I remember right. The views, and the cute chapel make it worth the entry fee.
Varenna (Como) - Castello Vezio, hike was a bit steep and scary in some parts but my daughter did the whole thing by herself because she was determined to see the castle and predatory birds. Small restaurant at top (didn't eat there though), great views. Daughter did not want to leave "her castle." I had to explain it belonged to the Greppi family.
Bologna - Garden Margherita (south of the city center). Lots of children's playground equipment; toy train; pond with turtles, ducks, koi; trampoline (more for adults). Yet so large and green it feels like a botanical garden.
Venice - Santa Elena (vaporetto stop). Children's playground equipment, small cafe, mostly locals with their children, soccer court, great view of S. Marco skyline. Just a couple piazzas from S. Marco where the library is (and close to S. Giovanni church), there is a piazza with a nursery school. Local families gather here and there is movable plastic playground equipment, tricycles, etc. They were very friendly and willing to play with my daughter.
Vernazza (CT) - great park below train station with an old school whirly-go-round. The little beach there has more sand and an enclosed area that my daughter loved playing at.
Monterosso (CT) - larger beach. But we thought it was rockier.
Florence - Merry-Go-Round (1E per child) in the piazza next to the high end shopping street.
Rome - Roman Forum, there is a downed column that has a hole in the center of it. Most people sit on it, well my daughter turned it into a kitchen and had fun cooking with twigs, rocks, and leaves.

Margherita pizza - this was her favorite
Davona? pizza (close to pepperoni, but a little spicier)
Cheese plates (especially parmesan and brie) - yummy for her and me
Bread - of course
Salami plates - she loved this!
Proscuitto - but I only felt comfortable letting her eat cotto (cooked) which is weird because I let her eat sushi
Ribollita - like a stew with vegetables and bread. Looks like mush, very hearty and tasty. She LOVED it and had it for two dinners straight in Florence.
Gnocchi pasta
Spaghetti Carbonara (egg and bacon sauce)
Fresh Fruit cups - we sometimes would let her have this off the dessert menu and then just share whatever we were eating
Gelato - duh
Gosh I forget the name already but it is a pasta that is shorter curly tubes with a cheese and meat sauce...she loved it, even the green spinach ones. Kinda gross but she thought they looked like worms and pretended to be a bird while she ate it up. I think the pasta started with a G, and was typical for Bologna. Maybe gramigni?
Tiramisu - it mostly tastes like coffee not alcohol. And some were heavier on the coffee than others. She mostly liked the creme part and the cake/lady fingers part that was not drenched in coffee.

Mini sized book with gold imprinted initial from Scrittorio in Florence.
Playing with Art in Florence (from Accademia) - LOVED this book because it goes over the artwork and tourist attractions in a toddler friendly story format. I hope to find more at other museums...unfortunately Rome doesn't have them.
Pinocchio bell from Bartolucci - CUTE little tourist trap, but she LOVED it. We bought ours in Rome.
Venetian Glass Ball on a silk cord from Le Perle in Venice.
Carabeneri matchbox sized jeep. We bought it at the train station - detail was really good.

Apartments (or hotels with fridges) are really helpful for storing milk or juice and for the space they provide.
Occasional days with short breaks midway for apartment/hotel time to play with her toys.
Airplane trip so that you arrive at your destination in the early evening (around 5pm). You end up falling asleep on their schedule.

Travel Potty Insert - most of the toilets in Italy were styled differently so it did not fit. We just tried to plan trips so that she could use the bathroom in our hotel or in nice restaurants. In emergencies, we would either wipe down the toilet extensively and put a layer of toilet paper down or hold her above the toilet in a sort of sling hold (gripping below the knees and around the chest).
lawmom is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2008, 10:59 AM
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Forgot these two invaluable toys that we brought...
Chloe mini doll from PBK - perfect sized for travel friend
Farm Animals Tube from PBK - lots of time spent for imaginary play

Also to clarify, the toddler backpack only contained her toys and sometimes our books/magazines.
lawmom is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2008, 11:55 AM
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Sounds like you had a great trip and I thought you did an excellant job of organizing everything.
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Jun 18th, 2008, 06:31 PM
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Thanks, very helpful.
Sally30 is offline  
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Jun 23rd, 2008, 06:47 PM
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Just thought of a question - what kind of bag did you use as your day bag? Did you take something separate for your daughter's stuff. I use a messenger bag or backpack at home with my bigger stroller but both tip over the umbrella stroller and neither fits underneath. Curious to hear your solution (or were you in the car enough that it wasn't an issue). thanks
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Jun 27th, 2008, 10:10 AM
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We took trains everywhere, so no car. When we were walking around within the city we carried just one bag, the pacsafe citysafe secure shoulder bag. I carried it messenger bag style. My DH did the same when he carried it. It has a lot of security features that we really liked - you can check it out here:

We would allow DD to take one small toy each day (usually the PBK doll, or a small fairy toy she got in a happy meal there). But her main entertainment was the sightseeing.

The stroller usually carried our large water bottle (and any jackets or umbrellas). The bag usually carried guide book, wallet, camera, hand sanitizer, kleenex for TP emergencies, any medicines, bandaids, travel neosporin spray, travel sunscreen stick, cell phone (we got ?TIM? cards for our old razrs while there, and it came in handy when we got split up), and a small snack.

On train days, DH got the messenger bag, I carried a backpack, plus we had all of our other luggage (a samsonite duffel with backpack straps, a carry on size rolling suitcase, and the toddler backpack).

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Jun 27th, 2008, 10:18 AM
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Just realized I forgot to address the stroller tipping part...

It happens unfortunately. For the most part, I carried the bag because it had valuables (and it was small like a purse). On travel days, I would lecture DD to stay in the stroller unless I told her to get out...and then hang her toddler backpack there. That said there was still occasional tipping action...

It helped though that towards the end of the trip DD (wise to what happens when she exited suddenly)...would ask to get out of the stroller when she knew something was hanging back there.
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Aug 30th, 2008, 12:51 PM
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I just found this post. Excellent excellent post. Thank you for the details.

My wife and I have a 20-month old and are planning a 4-week trip for next year when she will be 2 1/2 years old. It's great to hear that people can travel with toddlers.

Thanks again for the tips.
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Sep 10th, 2008, 06:30 PM
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Hi Lawmom, me again...more questions. We have a daughter who will be 21 mos next month when we go to Paris. Staying there for 10 days in a rented apartment.

Where did your daughter sleep? Is she old enough to be in her own bed? I realize that my daughter is just not going to sleep in the pack and play anymore (we had arranged to have one in the apartment we are renting). Based on the amazon reviews and some info on the US board, I just bought the Kids Aerobed. When it arrives, we'll test it out. Our daughter is still in a crib so this will be a new adventure!

Did you bring a carseat? Like you we are not traveling anywhere by car (except from the airport) so only really need it for the plane. I thought about getting the CARES Restraint but I am nervous that she won't sleep in that like she would in the carseat during the plane ride. My friend is lending me the rolling thing to attach to the carseat so that should make things a bit easier.

Does your daughter still nap? how did you work in the naps to your schedule?

I am getting nervous/excited as our trip approaches and realizing that traveling with a 21 mo old is a whole different ball game to traveling with our premobile 9 month old last year!
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Oct 16th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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We're in a similar boat - heading to Seville for Thanksgiving with a very active 20 month old. We're trying to find a suite-style hotel room that can provide a crib for her. Bringing her cheap stroller (we wouldn't be heartbroken to lose) and a backpack, but still very worried - she doesn't love spending time in the stroller and always asks to "walk walk WALK." Also not sure how the stroller will work on older, bumpier streets.

Hoping not to bring a car seat by training to the city centre instead of taxing, and then avoiding cabs for the whole trip.

I'm thinking we'll travel with Dad's baby bag/backpack on a daily basis but wondering what I can do to guard it from would-be theives.

So much of our travel in the past has involved leisurely meals, and that won't be an option - I assume we'll mostly be snacking on the go.

I'm stuck on the issue of napping. Do we go back to the room for a nap every day, or do we keep going in hopes that she'll conk out in the stroller and we'll get a nice lunch out of it!

I'd point everyone to Meme's trip report from Italy about two years ago - it's giving me much needed confidence that this is even possible!
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Oct 19th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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Hi Klta! We are just back from Paris. I am hoping to write a trip report sometime soon but thought I'd pass along my thoughts in the interim. First, to be honest, traveling with a 21 month old was a lot harder than traveling with an 8 month old (we did that last year). I am exhaused now! But it was also a lot of fun. Seville is wonderful.

Hotel room - We stayed in an apartment which was great. I brought a kids aerobed but the apartment (two bedroom) had two queen beds (I didn't realize it would) so our daughter slept in one of them (with one of us). We had tried the aerobed at home before we left and she really liked it and slept through the night fine with it. If you plan to bring the aerobed, I'd try it before you go. I got one for $50 on amazon.

Carseat - We brought our carseat and I will never do that again. It was a huge hassle to drag around the airport (even with the go kids wheels we borrowed from a friend) and she refused to sit in the carseat on the plane. I was doubly annoyed that I was dragging around this carseat and that I had paid for a seat that wasn't being used because my daughter wouldn't sit in the carseat and once on the plane we had no where else to put the carseat. If you've bought your daughter a seat on the plane, I'd try the CARES harness and if she won't use it, at least it is small to put away and you have an extra seat that she can stretch across. In retrospect, I would not have paid for a seat for her, I definitely would not have brought the carseat and I would have brought a portable DVD player (the tv screens on all of our seats were broken on the way home).
We did use the carseat in the taxi from the airport but the train sounds like a good option for you and you could always reserve a shuttle that provides a carseat. We did use taxis and just buckled her onto our laps. Not totally safe, I realize.

Stroller - We brought our Maclaren stroller which is great. Folds up very small and light but is sturdy and comfortable for the baby. your daughter, at times my daughter just did not want to sit in it. Maybe it is the toddler thing of wanting to explore or be independent but we ended up carrying her around more that I would have liked. To get her in the stroller, we did perfect a technique of handing her something interesting to eat (a sectioned orange or the like) and getting her in the stroller while she was busy with the food. It seemed that once she was in the stroller she was okay for a while but getting her in was the hard part.

Bag - I carried a small purse with my wallet, cell phone and keys and then we used a soft totebag for the baby stuff that we put in the basket under the stroller or hung on the handles. If anyone wanted to steal my wipes and diapers in the tote, that was fine with me.

Naps - we had the best intentions to get out early (by 8) and come home mid-day for a nap but that never happened. Our daughter was waking up much later than her usual 7am and my husband had a cold so he wasn't exactly jumping out of bed in the morning either. We usually got out of the apartment, having eaten breakfast and ready to go around 10:30am. A couple of times we went back for a nap but she just wouldn't sleep. I think she was overstimulated because while at home she always falls right asleep, in Paris it always took her a long time to fall asleep at night, even when she was just lying there quietly. Most days we didn't go back for a nap and she would fall asleep in the stroller for an hour or so. Not great but at least it gave her a little nap. We tried to get her into bed reasonably early so while she was definitely overtired by teh end, she was pretty pleasant for most of the trip. I was only in Seville once, in May, when I was pregnant and it seemed that everything shut down mid-day. Because I was so tired we actually did come back every afternoon for me to take a nap!

Restaurants - to my surprise and delight, she was fine in restaurants. We usually did one restaurant meal a day. Nothing super fancy but we did go to bistros and cafes and she was fine. A couple helpful tricks were to bring those "table topper" things (you can get them on which she would use and pretend that she was feeding Elmo and the other characters and to bring some small thing for her to play with (a sticker book or coloring book). She liked to sit on her own chair and look around. So it wasn't the pre-kids leisurely meal I was used to but she made it through 3 courses and even enjoyed eating the food we had.

Any other specific questions, please ask. Not sure when I'll get to my trip report!
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Oct 19th, 2008, 01:24 PM
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Richard Scarry

Brings back some great memories.

Who can forget Lowly Worm?

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