by Aarti Kapur Singh
Take a look at some of the best vacation ideas to keep in mind when traveling with toddlers!
When my son was a baby and then a young toddler, I was forever petrified of going out. More so on holidays or vacations. But then, I thought of my own well-traveled childhood and came to the conclusion that traveling will always be the best way in which my baby can actually experience the world.
Vacations with my toddler increased gradually and now we, as a family, look forward to holidays together.
When travelling with toddlers and young children, it is not about the right destination, ever! It is more to do with how you can make the journey, and the destination right. Hands-on activities, interest building, paying attention to otherwise ignored details can turn the fearsome “when will we get back home” to “when will we go on a holiday next?”
Here are some of my vacation ideas for toddlers:
1. The Destination:
The world is a playground for those that have wheels for feet, such as me. But packing your little ones for a travel – whether to a neighboring state, a different city, or across borders – can be daunting.
No two destinations are equal. But yes, places that are part of most people’s ‘family destinations‘ have a few things in common. Accessibility, comfort, activities (mix of indoor and outdoor), and that X-factor that becomes evident on your little one’s face. It could be, as I discovered, a little squirrel feeding corner within the precincts of the Taj Mahal, or, a playing room in a resort tucked away in a fold of the hills in Solan. Yes, you may not know these novelties exist, but it is good to appreciate and point out the small details to your toddler. When you are planning the travel, it is better to show your child pictures of the place and tell him stories about it to build up his excitement to go there.
2. The Preparation:
Always, and always, prepare in advance. And I don’t mean just the essentials like clothing, medication and so on, but also some stuff to keep your child busy. Thankfully, we have a budding photographer at home, so when he is asked to help me pack, the first thing that goes into his bag is his camera. This also keeps him interested in the trip and holiday. Giving toddlers their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view. Amongst pictures of feet and wheels, my son has shot flowers, animals, helicopters, boats, trees and cow-dung.
3. Research a to-do list:
We all do research before we zero in on where to go and a little looking up goes a long way. Try to find out what will interest you and your toddler. What special activity or recreation can they indulge in. I remember this weekend trip we took to Kasauli – a town as picturesque as it is sleepy – when my son was a toddler and I only remembered reading somewhere about this quaint little playground where a candyfloss-seller makes and sells his wares. The trek to the playground just to meet this weaver of candied dreams was so worth it because, well, candyfloss is just so magical – materializing out of seemingly nothing!
I think the biggest mistake parents travelling with kids make is doing too little not too much. Get out there. Enjoy. Experience.
4. Keep time to do nothing also:
The greatest thing you can take – whether at the airport, sightseeing or getting from A to B – is extra time. Toddlers love to explore and don’t care for the time pressures of travel, so you’re more likely to all retain your cool if you factor the faffing, gawping, stalling, toilet stops and tantrums into your time-frame.
5. Prepare for emergencies:
With toddlers, play act unusual or worrisome scenarios. If you’re concerned about your child being lost in an airport or a busy railway station, then act out the scene and what they should do. If you tell a kid what to do when they’re lost, they’ll probably forget it. If you act out what they should do they’re much more likely to remember it. (There’s a reason people do fire evacuation drills — they work!)
6. Stay Positive! Be Happy!:
This can mean many things. For starters, you need a keen eye for what’s important and what’s not. With the typical boundaries and rules turned upside down, it’s very easy to become a “No, No, No, No” parent. Focus on the important stuff. Things that make your day easier and keep everyone safe. Try to hear yourself talking — you should be saying far more positive things than negative things.
Like at home, praise effort not results. Praise the process not the outcome. Comment on how hard they worked or how patient they were, not how well they did a task or how good they are at something. And finally it means, living in the moment and taking everything in that you can. Live it! Experience it! Try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Become a kid again — explore, investigate, ask questions — and your children will come right along with you.
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