Tips for Solo Travel with a Toddler

Don’t let the thought of travelling alone with your little one put you off. With a few tweaks to your ideal itinerary and some extra time planning, travel with a toddler can be an amazingly rewarding experience.Travel is a wonderful thing. Whether you’re exploring the world or a local town, travel can open your eyes to new ways of thinking, amazing experiences and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Travelling with young children can make small trips seem like big adventures (or big adventures seem like mammoth expeditions!) but the advantages of taking those trips far outweighs the negatives.

I never thought I’d be road tripping through Europe with a toddler, let alone on my own with him. From that experience I learnt never to pass up an opportunity to travel with my child.

travel europe with a toddler

Don’t let the thought of travelling alone with your little one put you off. With a few tweaks to your ideal itinerary and some extra time planning, travel with a toddler can be an amazingly rewarding experience.

When my son was 18months old we headed over to Europe for a fantastic 6-week holiday. We travelled as a family of three for most of the trip but for a week it was just my little boy and me. I knew in advance this would be the case so spent plenty of time before the trip researching locations, accommodation choices, tips and travel tricks.

I thoroughly enjoyed that week. On the one hand, it was like I was travelling solo in that I had complete control of where I went and had to rely on my own capabilities. On the other hand, I never got lonely. My little person was always with me (often strapped to my body), he was great as a conversation starter and he helped me find joy in the most simple of things.

 

When it comes to travelling with a toddler (solo or otherwise), I have a few tips to make the adventure memorable for all the right reasons:

  • Don’t worry too much before hand
  • Choose child-friendly locations and accommodation
  • Slow down and allow for rest times
  • Research and prepare thoroughly
  • Avoid queues where ever possible
  • Make it obvious you have a toddler at airports
  • Don’t forget to pack toys
  • Baby wearing is awesome
  • Pack light

travel solo with toddler

  • Worry is a misuse of you imagination

While I spent a lot of time researching and preparing for our holiday, I also spent a fair amount of time worrying about what could go wrong. And you know what?… Nothing did! Don’t let fear, doubt, anxiety or worry stop you from travelling alone with your child. (You can read more about my pre-travel anxiety here)

 

  • Choose child-friendly options

I’m not a thrill seeker so was happy to have a relaxed time while it was just the two of us. I did my research and stayed at places where children were welcome and provided for. I deliberately booked self contained, modest units with kitchenettes so we had space to play and spend time indoors without the fear of breaking something or falling off a balcony. We also stayed a few nights at a bed and breakfast on a working farm, that was a great experience for a child.

 

  • Slow down and soak things in a little more

If we were all together as a family we would probably have gone for long day trips, booked restaurants at particular times…we would have been on the go. Instead, when travelling solo with my toddler, I spent afternoons walking through the forest, milking cows or splashing in the lake. I also allowed for plenty of chances to have a rest or nap. Making the effort to slow down and look at the world in wonder, through the eyes of a child made the quiet activities even more special.

slow down solo travel with kids

  • Preparation is key

That old saying if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail repeated in my mind while planning the holiday and I’m so glad it did. I wrote lists, pinned articles, read reviews and packed all the right things. I felt prepared and I was! I had all the ‘things’ organised and it served us well because we didn’t need to worry about where to find something, what number to call, what to wear etc. It was all taken care of in advance meaning fewer things could go wrong.

 

  • Skip the crowds

I’m not a fan of crowds (my son likes them even less), so my advice would be to avoid them if at all possible. Booking tickets ahead of time and visiting tourist destinations early in the morning or late in the afternoon might be a better bet than lining up and risking being stuck in a queue with a cranky toddler.

 

  • Airport Queue Jumping

In every airport we visited in Europe we were invited to cut to the front of the queue. For a family not used to VIP treatment this was quite a thrill! At one stage we were at the back of a long line and our little one started to squirm, we knew it would be a very uncomfortable wait for everyone around us, so I sat him on my shoulders and in less than a minute there was an airport employee ushering us to the front of the line. This privilege is reserved for parents with young children.

 

  • Pack some favourite toys and new activities

It’s super important to keep your child amused on flights and long drives, but it also pays to think about what they’ll need when you reach your destination. I spent plenty of time pre-holiday researching appropriate toys to take with us. I wanted to make sure everything I chose would hold my child’s interest, were age appropriate, versatile, lightweight and compact so they don’t take up too much room in our travel bag. If you’re stuck for ideas on which toys to take, I have a few suggestions here.

Flying Sprout puppet busy bag

  • Baby wearing is a life saver

Little legs can’t be relied on to do much walking and pushing a pram around all day is hard work. Having a baby carrier meant I could have my hands free, my toddler could nap whenever he liked and we both felt safe and secure. (Read more about the advantages of baby wearing here)

Baby wearing travelling solo

  • Don’t pack more than you need (besides nappies. Always pack extra nappies!)

Think long and hard before leaving home about what is absolutely necessary while travelling. Especially if you’re travelling solo, remember that you’ll be responsible lugging it all around while also looking after you child (see previous point about baby wearing 😉 )

 

Travelling with a toddler was easier and more fun than I expected. While I prefer travelling as a whole family, I’ll never again shy away from travelling alone with a little one, and hope you wont either.

 

If you have any great family travel experiences or tips I’d love you to share them below!

 

30 Ways for Kids to Collect and Keep Travel Memories

Photos are a fantastic way of storing memories while travelling but they are certainly not the only way. Here are 30 other child friendly options for collecting and keeping memories of your next adventure.

Having a camera built in to our phones means capturing moments and storing memories is easier than ever. It’s super convenient to flick through digital photo albums and relive special travel experiences. Children particularly enjoy taking a digital walk down memory lane.

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Photos are a fantastic way of storing memories while travelling but they are certainly not the only way. Here are a few other child friendly options for collecting and keeping memories of your next adventure:

 

Videos

Videos are a great way to truly capture a moment. You can record your kids in action, whether that be splashing around in the water, eating a meal or trekking through a forest. Alternatively, you (or your children) might like to create a video diary or interview people you meet along the way. Videos, even more so than photographs, can truly record a moment in all it’s glory. Plus they provide a real talking point that helps make memories more relatable for kids, especially young ones. With things like Go Pro you can even record hands–free.

 

Specialty Books

If you are visiting new counties, major landmarks or popular tourist destinations you may be able to find engaging children’s books that capture the destination in print. There are fabulous sticker books, pop-up books, children’s map books, atlases and stories published to engage, inform and educate young readers. Like photographs, books are easy to store, look through and revisit again and again.

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First Sticker Book London – available from www.bookdepository.com

Collections

Starting a collection of items from each location you visit is lots of fun for children of all ages. Your child might like to choose something different each time or keep it the same; postcards, mini landmarks and key rings are easy to find and generally kind on the budget. Alternatively, they could fill a bottle with a little sand from each location you visit, collect admission tickets, boarding passes or perhaps collect a pebble from each location, If you are visiting multiple countries with your children, they might like to collect stamps or coins from each place.

pebble collection

Journals/Diaries

Travel journals can be as simple or complex as your child chooses to make them. They could create an elaborate scrapbook or simply write a sentence in a notebook to reflect on each day of their adventure.

Your child might like to write a letter or postcard home every chance they get, that way when the adventure is over they will have an instant collection of memories, neatly packed away in envelopes waiting to be relived.

If your child is school aged, they could post their correspondence to school. Their class would have the opportunity to read the mail and follow your child’s adventure before returning the mail to your child when they get back to school. The lovely thing about this is the writing will capture your child’s personality at that age; the spelling, letter formation and pictures can be looked back on in many years to come.

love-heart-hand-romantic

Maps

Recording your journey on a map is another fantastic way to keep a visual memory of places travelled. You might like to place coloured stickers on a map or upgrade to a scratch map or pin board map. They are easy to use, educational and look fantastic hung on a wall. Not only are maps great to show where your child has travelled but they are handy to use before setting off to show distances, places and create some excitement about adventures to be had.

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Scratch Map – available from National Geographic

While there are many options, most of the time taking photographs is the simplest, easiest and most convenient way to capture your memories. But that doesn’t mean the photos can’t be interactive. Professional printing services now offer a huge range of options when it comes to creating something a little more exciting. You can create puzzles, clothing, mugs, cushions, even snow globes with your happy snaps. Plus, of course, there are photo books. With these books you are not limited to images, you can add headings, stories, captions; any text, to accompany each photograph and build a great resource about your experiences.

Regardless of which method you and your child/ren choose to store memories, the most important thing is to make them in the first place! Don’t concentrate too hard on taking those photos or finding items for a collection when you could instead be totally present and immersed in your experience, making some amazing memories you’ll keep with you forever.

pin map

In summary here is a list of ways you and your child can collect and keep memories of your travels:

  • take photographs
  • take a video diary
  • record video interviews
  • buy location specific sticker books
  • buy location specific pop-up books
  • buy children’s map books
  • buy an atlases
  • buy location specific stories
  • collect postcards
  • collect mini landmarks
  • collect key rings
  • create a bottle of sand
  • keep admission tickets
  • keep boarding passes
  • collect pebbles
  • collect stamps
  • collect coins
  • write a journal or diary
  • make a scrapbook
  • write letters to themself
  • write letters to their school
  • place stickers on a map
  • use a scratch map
  • use a pin board map
  • create a photo book
  • create photo puzzles
  • create printed clothing
  • create photo mugs
  • create printed cushions
  • create a photo snow globes

The Advantages of Babywearing While Travelling

When faced with the choice whether to use a pram or babycarrier while travelling or on holiday, the benefits of a wearing your baby make it a clear winner.

The advantages of baby wearing while travelling are many, too many to list. I have found baby carriers to be one of my most valuable possessions as a parent, particularly a travelling parent! While I love using a pram for everyday walks around my local area, I have never taken one on a holiday. I’ve always chosen a baby carrier rather than a pram, here’s why…

baby wearing Infographics

  • Using a pram to get around can be hard. I find it challenging to manoeuvre through crowds of people, tricky to load in and out of the car and near impossible when faced with a flight of stairs. All of these scenarios are almost guaranteed when travelling. Wearing your baby in a carrier, wrap or sling makes crowds insignificant, getting into a car easy and allows you to run up the stairs if you really want to!
  • Travel can be overwhelming for adults and is especially so for children. With all the new sights and sounds little ones can easily get emotional and clingy. Being in a baby carrier where they feel physically safe and secure is hugely reassuring for them and can eliminate a potentially stressful meltdown for you.
  • The safety and security your child feels when being worn also helps them to sleep comfortably and we all know how important that is, ESPECIALLY while travelling!!
  • Moving through crowds, airport checkpoints and sightseeing in new cities is made much easier without a pram. Having both your hands free to fill out forms, feed yourself on the go and hold luggage is made possible by wearing your baby.
  • Finding yourself in crowded places with a young child can bring up issues of safety. Keeping your little one close means less chance of getting separated from them…. and you cant get much closer than having them attached!
  • Packing light can be a challenge, especially when you have a young child! Baby carriers are light and most fold up very small; small enough to place in a nappy bag or carry on. Prams, on the other hand, can be very heavy, awkward to fold and are too large to pack away, meaning you need to take an extra piece of luggage everywhere you go.
  • Family travel often sees us accompanied by a mountain of luggage, usually too much for one person to wheel around, baby wearing frees up your hands so you can wheel along a suitcase or trolley without also having to chase after your child.

There are many different baby carriers in the market. They vary in price, comfort and ease of use.

For newborns I can’t go past a stretchy wrap, like those by Moby or Hug a Bub. You can take your baby in and out of the carrier without having to unwrap it each time.

http://www.lelong.com.my/moby-wrap-original-100-cotton-baby-carrier-deep-blue-bosstore-147800437-2016-04-Sale-P.htm
Moby brand stretchy wrap

For babies who are a few months old all the way up to 20kg toddlers, my saving grace is a Tula. Tula’s are easy to use, weigh nearly nothing, fold down very small, are ergonomically designed (very important!), super comfortable and look great! They aren’t cheap but are worth their cost ten times over in the piece of mind and convenience they offer.

Tula baby carriers can be worn on your front or back
Tula baby carriers can be worn on your front or back.

Next time you are travelling, do yourself a favour, leave the pram at home and take a baby carrier instead.

Activity Ideas for the School Holidays (or Any Weekend)

While the school holidays are now finished for most of us here in Australia, that doesn’t mean we should forget about having fun for the next ten weeks.

Here are a few more activities you might like to try on the weekends to mix things up a little.

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Fresh air, greenery and exercise do good things for your soul. Bushwalking doesn’t have to be strenuous to be rewarding. Get outside and feel the freedom and peace of a forest.

Holiday suggestion pampering

As teachers and/or parents you spend an enormous part of everyday looking after others. Now that it is holiday time, take the opportunity to do something for yourself. Treat yourself to something special that will make you feel good for more than a moment. You deserve it.

Holiday suggestion picnic

Picnics are always good fun, especially with a group of friends and a little sunshine. You can pack an elaborate basket of goodies or just pick something up on the way to your location. Maybe you could go somewhere with a view and enjoy the sights as well.

Holiday suggestion movie
Watching an old favourite movie is a little like cuddling up in an old oversized jumper; familiar and comforting. Take an few hours and treat yourself to a familiar favourite.
I’d choose Dirty Dancing. What would you watch?
 —
Holiday suggestion botanic gardens
There are so many wonderful gardens and green spaces we can explore. Even if the weather is cold or it is hard to get yourself out of the house, I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy the outing if you make the effort.
I was busy doing many out door activities this past week thanks to the beautiful Queensland Winter weather but also made sure to spend some quality learning time with my son at home. Here he is building on his understanding of numbers 1-5.
 —
learning to count 1-5

Activity Ideas for the School Holidays

We are now halfway through the school holidays so hopefully you’re feeling relaxed and have been totally enjoying yourself. In the previous post I listed 40 things to do in the school holidays. If you have read that list you will have come across the following suggestions and if you haven’t read the list, perhaps you might like to visit it now.

These ideas were posted on Instagram during the week. I love the background and font colours, I hope they make your eyes happy too.

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Now that most of us are on holidays, I’ll post some suggestions of how you might like to relax. Local libraries have an AMAZING collection of items you can borrow, not just books! Most libraries also have great free or low cost activities running throughout the weeks too.

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There are so many things we overlook in our own towns and cities. These holidays consider playing tourist for one day in your own city and enjoy the adventure.

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When you bake a tasty treat in your own oven, not only do you get to eat it hot and fresh, you are also treated to the lovely smells that will fill your home.

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Taking the time to write a thoughtful letter or postcard to someone you care about is time well spent. Plus it’s always lovely to receive something personal and thoughtful in the mail so you’d be giving the special recipient a lovely surprise.

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Camping is a great adventure but if you’re after something requiring a little less effort (& a hot shower) you can set up a tent in your backyard. If that’s a little chilly, then make a fort in your lounge room and camp out there. Don’t forget the marshmallows!

40 Things To Do in the School Holidays

Simple ideas on for how to spend your time off.

FINALLY the holidays have rolled around and it is time for you to enjoy that much anticipated ‘me time.’ If you are fresh out of ideas or looking for a little extra inspiration, hopefully you’ll find some helpful suggestions below.

Here I go, 40 Things To Do in the School Holidays:

  • Visit a museum
  • Take a free walking tour of your city
  • Bake some cookies
  • Try out a new craft
  • Plant something in your garden
  • Play your favourite tunes and have a dance
  • Have a bubble bath
  • Try a new food, restaurant or cafe
  • Go away for the night
  • Visit a nursery
  • Go to an art gallery
  • Camp out in your back yard (or lounge room)
  • Have a potluck meal with friends
  • Visit your nearest zoo or animal reserve
  • Watch an old time favourite movie
  • Head to the local library
  • Take a bush walk
  • Watch a sunrise
  • Try a new recipe
  • Go for a bike ride; most cities offer bike rentals
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Search the local newspaper for free activities to attend
  • Write and send a letter or postcard
  • Look through some old photographs
  • Read a new book
  • Walk along the beach
  • List three tasks you must complete and a reward for doing each
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Catch up on films at home with popcorn and treats
  • Research and write a list of places you’d like to visit
  • Prepare a meal with all colours of the rainbow
  • Buy some new stationary
  • Visit a local farmer’s market
  • Ride on public transport to a new location
  • Buy a bunch of flowers to brighten up your home
  • Treat yourself to a massage or beauty treatment
  • Write down five things you are truly grateful for
  • Do some goal setting; what do you hope to achieve in the next year?
  • Head to your nearest botanic gardens
  • Get dressed up and go on a date, by yourself

If you have some suggestions, I’d LOVE to hear from you!