It’s summertime, the best time of year for family vacations! While these travel experiences can be great opportunities for making memories and bonding with your family, they can also cause stress for everyone, including your preschooler.
Here are 7 tips to help avoid a toddler meltdown by reducing the stress of traveling:
- Water! Be certain you and your preschooler stay hydrated. Whether you have the hot sun shining through the car windows, a long plane ride or a trek through the airport, it’s very easy to get dehydrated. If traveling by car, pack a cooler full of fun water bottles. If traveling by plane, pack a regulation-size Ziploc full of three-ounce bottles of water to have on hand through security, at the gate and on the plane.
- Bring a “fun-pack.” Create a small tote bag full of special items just for travel time to keep your preschooler busy during long waits or rides. You might include a fresh new box of crayons and a little spiral pad of paper, as well as finger puppets, a squishy ball and other small play items you can find at your local discount store.
- Create a breeze. Invest in a battery-operated hand-held fan with plastic blades (safety first!) so your preschooler can get relief from the heat as needed.
- Feeding time. Keep healthy snacks on hand and plan meal options. Removing a preschooler from her eating schedule can crank up the crankiness, so try to stick to your regular schedule as much as possible.
- Don’t overschedule. Allow for down-time in your vacation planning. Setting a tight schedule is the perfect recipe for a melt-down. Try to relax into the natural rhythm of your family vacation and go with the flow!
- Change of scenery. Young children have short attention spans. It’s difficult and unnatural for a preschooler to sit still for any duration. If you’re on a plane, get up and take a walk with your little one down the aisles. If you’re in a car, make frequent stops to get out and move, run around and see the sites.
- Have an escape plan. If there is too much stimulation, coupled with heat and crowds, you should have an escape plan in place in case your child starts to boil over. Spot the nearest exit, the bathrooms and alternative rooms you can access if needed. Above all, be patient and understand that your preschooler is not a little adult – he has age-specific needs when traveling. So plan ahead as much as possible!
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