Traveling with kids is hard. But, so incredibly worth it. I am currently living in South Korea with my husband and our three daughters, aged 3 and under. The journey to get here from Dayton, Ohio was a whopping 52 hours door to door… which makes weekend trips around the peninsula of South Korea feel a bit easier. As we head into 2022 full of adventures, here are my top pieces of advice for traveling with toddlers.
Pack healthy food and kitchen essentials.
This is critical. I pack two bags/coolers worth of food (as long as we are driving) that are full of meal options. Oatmeal, peanut butter, fruit, and whatever leftovers are in the fridge at home. I also pack those shelf-stable milks that don’t need to be refrigerated. Not the most refreshing, but my toddlers don’t mind. Pack paper plates and utensils. I personally pack a lot of spoons and forks since we live in Asia and I haven’t mastered chopsticks. Pack your own knife for cutting veggies and fruit at pit stops. I also always throw in a dish towel to put across my lap in the car if I am passing out car snacks. That way, I don’t end up covered in crumbs. The extra time spent packing and preparing food is well worth it when you’re in a pinch, especially for us when raw seafood and kimchi are staple menu items here.
Pick ONE thing a day to sightsee.
I’m not kidding. Pun intended. Set your expectations at a reasonable level. Getting people fed and out the door is a lot – especially when traveling. If you see more, great! If not, you will have seen the one thing that was most important to you. Try to schedule your mornings for sightseeing and reserve the afternoon for naps back at the hotel. Unless it’s really going to be worth it… and you have a stroller. Dragging a kid that hasn’t napped around isn’t fair or fun to anyone.
Just take one big sip.
Keep your kiddos well hydrated. The last thing you want to be doing is getting up in the middle of the night because your toddler is thirsty (and crying from their crib about it). I pack water tumblers for each of my girls and remind them to just take one big sip throughout the day.
Reserve a loaner crib.
Ask if your accommodations have a crib or pack-n-play to rent. It’s one less thing for you to load into the car. And whatever you do, bring your white noise machine from home.
Let it be.
Let your kids be kids. They are going to be touching things, they are going to be jumping around, they are going to be using every hand sanitizer you walk by, it’s vacation. At some point, they are going to sound the emergency fire alarm on the elevator. It will be okay. Mine go crazy for the hotel room phones. So we just unplug it and let them use it. As long as they are not being disrespectful or disruptive, just let it be.
Lastly, enjoy all the little moments of the trip.
Don’t wait until you get to that one tourist sight or special dinner out. I feel like I spend my time waiting and rushing to get someplace and miss out on so much of the actual trip. For example, I get so much joy out of how much my eldest enjoys helping me pack, or my husband singing in the car, or watching my babies snuggle together in the big hotel beds. These are the memories that you and your kiddos will keep.