How to prepare for a holiday with a toddler

How to prepare for your holiday with a toddler

In just under a week’s time we are flying to Spain, and I can’t wait for some decent weather, sunshine, beaches, delicious food and sangria. We’ll also be going with our toddler, and this will be our first holiday with our daughter now that she is no longer a baby, which I’m actually excited about as she’ll be able to do a lot more. I expect that most things about the holiday will be different to last year, including the flight now that she needs her own seat, and it will be different to flying with a one-year old.

In the run up to our holiday I’m going to be spending time preparing for this with our toddler, and here’s my top tips on how I’m doing it.

Packing preparation

  • When you’re flying with children it’s best to limit the amount of luggage you’re taking. This makes the trip to the airport, and the trip to the hotel or villa once you arrive so much easier. There’s less stuff to carry and think about, especially if you have a young child who is needing your attention. To avoid taking too much my husband and I will be taking two suitcases, and sharing the space with our daughter’s clothes. It also means that we haven’t got to purchase hold baggage for another person on our EasyJet flight.
  • If you’re travelling for two weeks and wonder how to fit your clothes, your husband’s clothes and your child’s clothes into two suitcases, then think about taking travel wash with you, or see if your villa has a washing machine. This will mean you only need so many outfits, and you can wash a couple during the holiday. If you’re going somewhere hot the clothes will also dry really quickly in the sunshine.
  • Whenever we travel in the UK I usually take a couple of toys and games with me to keep our daughter amused during the day. When flying space is at a premium, however that doesn’t mean you can’t take toys and games with you. Think about taking inflatable toys such as a ball and skittles, small games and small books. There’s also drawing which just involves a small paper pad and some pads. Keep it simple and hopefully you won’t need them, as they’ll be too busy splashing about in the pool.
  • Think about what your toddler is going to sleep in whilst you are away. If they sleep in a gro-bag at home and you’re visiting a hot country, then consider getting a 1-tog gro-bag, or a higher tog rating if you’re visiting a cold country. If your toddler has a preferred cuddly toy or book to fall asleep to, then make sure you take it with you. I always find it best to mimic their sleep environment they have at home as much as possible.
  • If you’re staying in a hotel or villa then check that they can offer you a travel cot or a small bed for your toddler to sleep in, this should be the same set-up as what they sleep in at home to minimise any sleep disruption to them (or to you). Most airlines will let you take a travel cot as part of a child’s baggage allowance, or there are companies where you can hire them, or large supermarkets like Carrefour where you can buy them.
  • The same applies to a car seat which is essential and a priority if you are hiring a car abroad. Check with your car hire company when booking and before leaving that they can offer you a toddler car seat. Or some airlines will let you take your car seat as part of your toddler’s baggage allowance.

Flight preparation 

How to prepare for a holiday with a toddler

I think that this is the part of the holiday that as parents we most dread. Actually it’s not that bad, providing you prepare and plan well.

  • Take enough toys, games and books to keep them entertained and occupied for the length of the flight. Keep in the back of your mind that they might not always sleep, even if you are flying during the night or during their nap time. A good tip a friend told me is to take a new toy for every hour of the flight, wrap it up, so that they unwrap it and get excited about it. Remember that each toy doesn’t need to be costly, one could be a book and another a small £2 game of snap.
  • Take enough snacks for the entire length of the flight and your onward journey. This should help to keep them under control, and entertained for a while, it also means that you haven’t got to go searching for snacks the minute you land in an unfamiliar place. Now that my daughter is no longer classified as a baby, it means I can’t take baby food through security. However you can order in advance baby snacks or drinks that you toddler loves from Boots, and collect airside before getting onto your flight.
  • Consider purchasing a Trunki for your toddler. They will love the designs and colours, and feel that they have own luggage to take onboard. Get them involved in packing the Trunki so they they have some ownership over it, and can really get involved in the process of going on holiday. Plus they are a great seat if you’re sat waiting around at the airport.
  • If you’re flying with an airline that offers the option to pre-book your seats then do it. I’ve heard some horror stories of families being separated, which sounds like my worst nightmare especially if you’re travelling with young children. It also means that your toddler can sit between you, so you can help keep them calm during take off and landing, when they need to be sat in their seat. There’s also a site called Seat Guru that let’s you see the best seats on each aircraft by flight number and destination.
  • Load up your iPad or phone with their favourite TV programmes to watch as this should help to keep them entertained and distracted for a while. This is one time when I thank the technology gods that these devices actually exist, and help make our lives as parents a little easier.

Holiday preparation 

How to prepare for a holiday with a toddler

The list is endless for preparation once you arrived at your destination, so I’m focusing on my top 5 here.

  • Treat them. Remember that it’s their holiday as much as yours. If you’re having ice cream then let them have ice cream. If you don’t you could end up with a toddler tantrum on your hands.
  • When travelling to a hot country, keep them cool. They’ll need more water than they drink at home, and obviously wear less clothes too. You could purchase one of those mist sprays, so you can easily spray them with water if you think that they are getting a little too warm.
  • Always use a SPF 50+ suntan lotion that has a UVA 5 star rating. There are so many children’s suntan lotions that are only 3 star, and some of these are some big name brands. My favourite is Boots Soltan as it’s so easy to apply, and comes in a range of different sized bottles and applicators.
  • Tell your child where they are going to, and get them excited about a holiday away from home. This will really stimulate their sense of adventure and encourage them to learn about other countries and cultures.
  • Travelling is a great way for everyone including your toddler to try new foods. We are travelling to Spain and most days will be eating tapas. This is a perfect opportunity to order lots of sharing plates, and share these with your toddler. You never know they might find something they’ve never had at home, and really love.

So those are my top tips for preparing to holiday with a toddler. Fingers crossed it will all go to plan, otherwise I’ll be drinking all the sangria.

Do you have any top tips for travelling with a toddler?

Claire x


  • Noleen Miller

    Flew to Australia from South Africa in 2012 when my youngest was 2 and the eldest was 6. Surprisingly they were well behaved on the flight but I think I 6 week holiday was way too long with them. By week 4 the tantrums started and I was done and wanted to head back home #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Briony

    I’ve not flown with L yet but he’s desperate to go on holiday in a plane. I’ll have to get saving! I’ve found that just getting him excited about the destination is now a really good way to get him though the journey. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • kerry

    My little boys first flight he was thrown in at the deep end and we travelled 9hours to Orlando, we stressed about entertaining him on the flight so over packed and stressed all the way to the airport. We got on the plane and he sat all the way through just watching the films on the headset!! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • The Squirmy Popple

    These are some great tips! We’re flying with our 2-year-old next week, but we’ve done a few flights since she’s been a toddler and have found that she can be pretty easily entertained with a few books, snacks, some paper/pens and, of course, an iPad! She’ll be sleeping in a single bed rather than a travel cot for the first time, so the big thing for us is to remember her blanket that she sleeps with every night. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • The Mummy Diaries

    We have never been abroad with our daughter and now that I am pregnant with our second the thought of flying with 2 kids fills me with dread but would like to sometime next year while im on mat leave #fortheloveofBLOG

  • The Mummy Bubble

    This such a good guide for travelling abroad. I’ve never done it with ours before, I’m a bit nervous. Will bookmark this for when we do x #fortheloveofblog

  • Chloe

    Hi, thanks for sharing some great tips, travel wash is a must for me along with food and games for the plane. Enjoy your hols, Chloe #fortheloveofBlog

  • Mrs Mummy Harris

    I’m dreading our first flight with Ben, its either gonna be amazing cos he’ll sleep like he always does in the car – or he’ll be a nightmare! Luckily next year we’re going to Disneyland and we’re doing the Eurostar as fingers crossed he’ll be easier to keep entertained with a long stretch to walk through #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Jade - Raw Childhood

    We’ve not flown yet with our boys but we are planning a holiday for next year when we will have a 4 year old, 2 year old and a 6 month old so we are going to need all these tips for then! #fortheloveofblog

  • Catherine

    Have a brilliant holiday! Such great tips! We just did a road trip to France and we all survived!! We had a family chant of ‘holiday’ that Amelia loved for weeks before we went! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Alana - Burnished Chaos

    Great tips. Travelling light is definitely key and a colouring book and crayons will be the most used distraction for the entire holiday, especially when eating out and waiting for your food. For the flight, we found snacks and an iPad loaded with new (free) games were fantastic. Hope you have a great holiday x

  • Nicola

    These are great tips. We took our first holiday abroad as a family when my daughter was 2 and she was amazing…although we very nearly lost her down the baggage conveyer belt at check in! #fortheloveofblog

  • Twicemicrowaved tea

    There are some brilliant tips here. Snacks are definite essentials! We also take magazines and stickers. We flew for the first time in March this year. It was meant to be a 4 hour flight but we ended up on the plane for 8 hours after the plane got diverted and the airline had to sort out accommodation for everyone. It could have been a nightmare, but luckily we packed a couple of new toy surprises for our little girl and she was so engrossed in them, that I think the time just flew by for her! #fortheloveofblog

  • Hayley@ Mission: Mindfulness

    Such a comprehensive post Claire – really good advice for anyone with toddlers. I agree about it being their holiday too. You do have to mentally prepare yourself for the icecreams most days etc and not be too bah humbug about it (which I can be if I haven’t given myself a talking to first!). I think you’re heading off soon so have fun. xx #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Sam - StressyMama

    Brilliant tips. We take a Trunki full of toys/activities when we fly with Molly. Suprisingly she has always been really well behaved on flights. The snacks probably help with that ha. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Aleena

    It’s a great idea to talk to your kids about where you’re going, really get them excited for it! Getting them involved in the prep works for me to! Great tips, I can’t wait for our next holiday! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • wendy

    Amazing tips – you have covered everything! We have flown with a toddler before and it actually wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would be. Such a useful post xx #fortheloveofblog

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