3 Lessons and Tips I Learned on Travelling With a Toddler

I tried to do some research on this before going and couldn’t find any sufficient information. So I lived and learned and now I’m sharing my trauma experience. You’re welcome guys.

A Couple of Hard Truths:

Bugs > Breathtaking Mountain
  1. You’re not going to see everything you want to see. You’re not going to do everything you wanted to do. Toddlers have opinions, and they’ll slow you down. You have to go at their pace and just live with it. Going to Banff taught me to love my hotel room and make it home. We were in there for 2-3 hours during the day for Yusra’s nap time and then back again in the evening around 8 pm to wind down and put her to bed. Bring a book. And for those parents that limit your child’s screen time, bring two books. Nothing screams boredom like sitting in the dark at 2 pm because your bed, tv, and couch are in the same room and turning anything or watching television will wake the gremlin up.
  2. Things will get lost and your organization system will go to shit. Ladies – get your partners involved when packing! I micromanaged and got packing cubes from Dollarama, then spent the night before our flight putting ‘basics’ in one, pjs in another, and then curated outfits so I didn’t have to spend too much time putting together looks in the hotel. I did the same for both Imad and myself. We each got our own carry on and he didn’t have a clue where anything was. I knew I would get tired answering his questions each morning so this trip was the first time in my 26 years that I unpacked all our stuff into the hotel storage units. Then, I realized that the packing cube with all Yusra’s basics in it – including a couple of diapers and wipes for easy clean ups on the go – was left in the bathroom on the plane. None other than the person who didn’t spend 2 hours packing everything. Everything I took to layer under Yusra’s sweaters and jeans and quick changes of clothes incase of any spills or accidents were gone. And I’ve realized this only happens with her things – because they’re mini and always all over the place. I tried to get over it but I’m honestly still mad about it. We did end up improvising with her pj’s so she was still kept very warm.

3. Your toddler is your child. Don’t be surprised when they do things like you. I hate airplanes and I realized that so does my daughter. It was ‘too loud’ for her. She found it hard to sit still for four and a half hours. It was impossible for her to get comfy and sleep. And even the overstimulating, mind numbing cartoons on the screens weren’t enough to keep her attention for more than 5 minutes. As I was getting frustrated keeping her busy it occurred to me that I also find it hard to sit in one place for long periods, the airplane screens make me more agitated than entertained, and I find people that sleep on flights to be nothing less than psychopaths. The cold weather at Banff was not to her liking either. We knew she didn’t like winter from our experience last year, when our family was happily building a snowman as she watched from a distance, cold and mad at the universe. Funny enough, her father acts like his skin is being eaten alive when temperatures are below 20 degrees. So…. we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Pro Tips:

TIP BIG at restaurants when you take a toddler. They’re messy, they’re loud, and they wreck havoc. When waiting for your food, take your child on a walk to burn off the energy so they can sit during the meal. Allow them to choose whether to sit in a high chair or a regular seat. Give them their own plate and meal so they feel like a part of the experience. This also encourages them to feed themselves and enjoy it. Yusra was done her meals a lot faster than ours and I wasn’t about to let her run loose in a restaurant while people were trying to enjoy their food. So I emptied her plate and handed her a salt and pepper shaker. This kept her busy long enough where we didn’t have to scoff down our meals. However, as you can imagine, a waiter who didn’t give birth to Yusra should not and would not want to deal with the aftermath. I was diligent to clean up as much as I could. On our last day, Yusra dropped so much food at a Thai restaurant that it was disappearing into the depths of their carpet, paving the way for pests’ and insects’ new home. I also broke a plate. Please tip your waiters.

Yusra refusing to stand on her own even to see a goat.

INVEST in a toddler carrier. We didn’t. (I didn’t even know they existed till after!) It was hard. Toddlers thrive on familiarity and routine. Throw them in a new environment where its significantly colder, sometimes louder ,and they will freak out. We were naïve to think she would chill in a stroller while we rolled her around everywhere. She didn’t. Imad and I took turns carrying our 26 pound toddler around town – even on hikes. Our backs paid the price. A price more expensive than a toddler carrier.

PACK activities and snacks. Yusra doesn’t really play with toys as much as she’s into pretend play. I bought a doll for her specifically to take on the trip. It came with a baby bottle, a bib, and some clothes and I packed an old swaddle blanket of Yusra’s as she loves to wrap her babies and put them to sleep. Because it was new, it kept her quite busy as did the playdough she got from one of her aunts and uncles for her birthday. I tried to switch things up and bought new snacks for Yusra as well thinking it would be exciting for her. She didn’t like any of them. Keep things familiar as the unfamiliar environment will affect their appetite. We bought some groceries there specifically for her to snack on throughout the day and allowed her to eat however and whatever was on her plate during mealtimes. Don’t force it. Children don’t starve themselves. If they’re hungry, they’ll eat.

Don’t forget to have a little fun 🙂