It goes without saying that life changes when you have children, but does it have to change beyond recognition?
Are you doomed to never leave the house again? To only visit pubs with a soft play area attached to it? To keep yourself quarantined with other parents and children and only rejoin society when your kids are old enough to wipe their own bum?
Before Wren was born Brett and I loved a UK mini break and we were adamant we didn’t want that to change when we had children. We always said we wanted to continue doing all the things we loved with our new little babe in tow. And for the most part we have. So I want to share with you the tips & tricks we use to make travelling with a toddler work for us and hopefully work for you too.
I’ve broken this down into three blog posts; part 1 will cover the general planning, part 2 will be tips & tricks for exploring and part 3 will be a few home truths because of course things don’t alway go to plan and Wren, like most toddlers, will still throw a damn good tantrum whether we’re at home or in the middle of Bath Abbey!
Planning Where To Go
We don’t necessarily take Wren into consideration when planning our trips. Not at first anyway. We have the mindset that most places (be it the UK or overseas) will have families living there and therefore be catered for children.
Once we’ve decided on a location we do some quick research. We would have done this before Wren so the process isn’t much different. Whether you’re planning a city break, beach stay or idyllic cottage retreat ask yourself the following questions when planning a trip:
What are the areas like?
Is there lots to do?
Will we be able to fill our days without anyone getting bored?
Are there plenty of nice cafes and restaurants about?
Are there some nice play parks nearby?
Are there any specific toddler friendly activities?
Where To Stay
Once we’ve decided on the location it’s time to book accommodation! My biggest tip here would be don’t limit yourself to thinking you need to stay somewhere ‘family friendly’.
Think about it, so long as you can set up a cot bed for your little one and you’re not in some party hotel that’ll be going until 3am pretty much anywhere will accommodate children.
If a hotel or apartment is adult only it will generally say so and of course there is no harm in calling or emailing to make sure.
We generally avoid hotels since having Wren. We much prefer apartments, it’s great to have a separate living space & bedroom and a proper kitchen space is so handy for sorting out milk and toddler meals etc.
Airbnb is our favourite for finding cool apartments! You can use helpful filters to make sure apartments allow children and read reviews of others who have stayed there.
As well as Airbnb I tend to use Instagram & Bloggers as inspiration. My current fave travel blogger is Rebecca (Roses & Rolltops). We booked a beautiful cottage in Norfolk off the back of her recommendation and it did not disappoint.
Ah the journey, admittedly the worst part of the whole trip. Wren is not one for sitting still and probably has his worst screaming tantrums when sat in the car; however we don’t let this put us off! If we did we’d never go anywhere.
We accept he’s probably going to get a bit grizzly and bring as many distraction techniques with us as we can.
Here’s my top tips for surviving a long car journey with a toddler:
- Leave as early as you can. The sooner you get going the sooner you’ll get there! Try and leave before rush hour traffic in the morning.
- Interactive books, flip books, noisy books, books with different textures. Wren is 19 months so unable to read a story himself. However he loves books he can interact with.
- A bag of small toys. I tend to keep hold of his toys and give them to him one by one so he doesn’t tip them all out at once and get bored quickly. Giving him a toy one by one tends to hold his attention longer.
- Plan at least one or two stops. Whether it’s to change a nappy, have a quick bite to eat or just to have a 5 minute leg stretch.
Finally here’s a helpful packing & travel checklist to make getting out the door and the journey as easy and stress free as possible!
In part 2 I’ll be covering tips & tricks to making exploring with a toddler work for you! From how we manage to sit and enjoy a coffee to not worrying about being somewhere that isn’t ‘child friendly’ and the essentials we don’t leave the house without.