Lessons Learned from Travelling with Toddlers. Tips & Advice

Lessons learned from Travelling with Toddlers

Travelling with toddlers is hard work, some would say, not us, we love it!  When we thought about travelling with our toddlers family and friends told us to wait until they were older, when they could remember the places we were travelling to; so that they too could benefit from all of the amazing experiences that travel affords you.  We disagreed, even though they might not be able to remember all of the places when they are older, we truly believe that their childhood experiences will help them grow and evolve into considerate global citizens, so we decided to go for it.  We also had a very good reason for choosing to travel now; our youngest child, Mayhem had a major operation to remove a benign tumour when he was 11 months old and it turned our world topsy turvy and reevaluate everything.  We packed up and shipped out, escaped the rat race to spend lots of quality family time together with our boys Chaos (3 1/2 yo) and Mayhem (21 months old) before they leave us for the best part of their days and go to school.

Topsy Turvy Tribe in Nerja
Topsy Turvy Tribe in Nerja, Spain

So hey, we are travelling, here’s what have we learnt so far:

Be prepared:

Always have a handy day bag packed with all of the essentials for toddler travel in; toys that ‘do something’, nappies, wipes, change of clothes (especially in the car for those projectile vomming moments), snacks, lots of water…oh and more snacks.  Did I mention snacks..?? Definitely a must for a day out, short or long trip.  Babywear, use slings or baby carriers, they really are the easiest ways to get around.

Topsy Turvy Tribe
Babywearing in Competa, Spain

Always have cash handy:

Many places off the beaten track simply do not take credit or debit cards, even gas stations and shops who do have card facilities will sometimes only accept cards issued by their own countries banks.  Therefore, unless you want to be embarrassed at the till, stash some cash for emergencies and always replace it when used.  See more on our Frugal Family Travel & Money Tips here

Plan in advance:

You do not want it leave it till the morning of the same day before you decide what to do.  When you have two toddlers who bounce out of bed and are keen to start the day jumping in feet, elbows and head first make sure you have a good idea what you want to do that day.  Toddlers do not like to be kept waiting, unless they are keeping you waiting by inspecting a building site, small stone, leaf, bug, fountain, anything at all really.  It’s all about them.

Go with the flow:

The greatest days out and the best experiences are usually the unexpected ones.  Our kids have bottle fed baby goats, ran screaming and giggling into the sea fully clothed, cuddled puppies and kittens and taken for a ride on 80 year old tractors, because we were spontaneous and decided to go the flow.  You had planned to get up at the crack of dawn (5.45 with our two early birds) and had 10 things on your itinerary that day…forget it.  But Chaos the threenager is cranky and Mayhem the velcro kid is miserable…slow down, go with the flow, let the toddlers rule.  If you get a couple of things ticked off, brilliant, if both the toddlers cheer up, even better!

Running in the sea fully clothed
Mayhem’s fully clothed beach collision in the Algarve, Portugal

Enjoy every minute:

Even if both toddlers set each other off and start a screaming competition, you are struck down by multiple poonamis, green candle attacks and terrible tantrums, it doesn’t last for long.  The memories you create travelling will last forever.  Take loads of photos, blog about it, reflect and savour every single moment.  Life is precious, especially your children’s lives, so very, very precious and oh so short.  All too soon they will be grown and going on their own travel adventures.

The boys making memories
Meeting the Neeeigh-bour, Andalusia, Spain
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Post Author: Topsy Turvy Tribe

95 thoughts on “Lessons learned from Travelling with Toddlers


    (August 9, 2016 - 8:40 am)

    I really admire you for this. I agree that experiences from a young age help shape children. I’m a nervous traveller myself and it’s a fear I want to overcome because I want to be able to show my son some of the world. #twinklytuesday


      (August 9, 2016 - 11:42 am)

      I’m sure you will overcome your travel fears, especially for your son. Travel is wonderful as long as you get organised. Thanks for your comments!


    (August 9, 2016 - 11:27 am)

    I absolutely love this, I think it’s brilliant how much you are showing your little ones and actually it makes more sense to travel now than when they are school age as you probably won’t want to disrupt their education. It sounds like you’ve had some amazing adventures! #dreamteam


      (August 9, 2016 - 11:40 am)

      Thank you so much. We are having so much fun and the kids are learning about new cultures and languages 🙂


    (August 9, 2016 - 2:24 pm)

    I love your posts. Such sweet babies. We just traveled with our toddler up to Alaska and it was a lt of fun. He got to play with his two 2nd cousins and we drove around the state seeing the sites. Those are really good tips, and I’ll keep them in mind for when we drive half way across the states moving to MN. This has been a busy summer! #twinklytuesday


      (August 9, 2016 - 5:19 pm)

      Oh thank you! I’d love to go to Alaska! Good luck with your move!


    (August 9, 2016 - 3:21 pm)

    We are going on a trip soon so this is helpful! I just realized I haven’t planned for any of the logistics yet. I’d better get busy!


      (August 9, 2016 - 5:18 pm)

      Thanks glad you found the tips useful. His luck with your trip!

    Jessica Foley (@ModernMomsLife)

    (August 10, 2016 - 11:52 am)

    These tips are great! We did a little travelling when our kids were toddlers. Now they’re school age and you don’t have to pack quite as much stuff (thank goodness!)


      (August 10, 2016 - 12:12 pm)

      Thanks Jess. Glad to hear it gets easier as they get older!

    From Day Dot

    (August 11, 2016 - 7:49 am)

    Brilliant, and I think you’re right, they might not remember specifics but it’s all adding to their development and the way they’ll see the world when they’re older, so good on you. I love your boys’ names too!! #SharingtheBlogLove


      (August 11, 2016 - 7:54 am)

      Thank you! I really hope that travel will broaden their minds. If nothing else they’ll have some lovely photos to look back on!

    An imperfect Mum (@animperfectmum)

    (August 11, 2016 - 1:20 pm)

    I look forward to reading your posts. I am so happy for you that you choose to live this adventure and that it has been such a success. Great advice too. You sounds like wonderful parents. Thank you for sharing your fab post with us #ablogginggoodtime 😀


      (August 12, 2016 - 3:30 pm)

      Thank you Catie, that is such a lovely comment, you almost made me cry! 🙂


    (August 11, 2016 - 4:04 pm)

    What an absolutely amazing adventure! I’m living abroad with my husband and one year old for 6 months and it’s amazing. But I’m very jealous of your varied adventures!! #sharingthebloglove


      (August 12, 2016 - 3:37 pm)

      Thank you, just read your tips for things to take to a hot country for baby, some fab ideas too! I will check out the rest of your blog


    (August 11, 2016 - 11:49 pm)

    Lovely! I travelled solo and with friends a lot before baby and I can’t wait to travel with him. I love how you’re making so many wonderful memories – so fabulous to read! We’re just waiting for B’s passport to arrive (it’s be an arduous task) so we can set off! x




      (August 12, 2016 - 5:43 am)

      Thanks Kat,sorry to hear you’re having problems with the passport. I was so sleep deprived when I sent off for Mayhem’s I forgot to put the photos in!! Hope the tips help you on your next trip when you finally get to go on it!


        (August 12, 2016 - 7:09 am)

        Tee hee! Yes, we’ve done 3 applications so far. This one is definitely on the way – I got the text to say yay! 🙏🏾 The tips are great and I’ll be catching up on all your other posts for inspo and just general family loveliness! x


          (August 12, 2016 - 7:20 am)

          Oh no 3rd time lucky! Thanks. Have a great weekend x


            (August 12, 2016 - 5:15 pm)

            Definitely! You too! x

    Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    (August 12, 2016 - 2:11 pm)

    What a lovely post! We’ve only braved travelling in Europe with our toddler, but I’ve never found it to be as problematic as I expect. Your advice about going with the flow is spot on – once you release yourself from any itinerary the whole thing becomes so much less stressful. Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove


      (August 12, 2016 - 3:28 pm)

      Thanks Katy, You’re right, Europe is much easier subjecting small kids to long haul flights!


    (August 12, 2016 - 8:59 pm)

    It’s so true that toddlers seem to rule. I think ours have us under their little thumbs! #BloggerClubUK


      (August 13, 2016 - 5:10 am)

      Ha ha yes. Our two are definitely in charge, even when we think we are. They rule! x


    (August 13, 2016 - 5:15 am)

    Stumbled across your post! Thank you for sharing the world with your babies! Traveling is in our blood and we’re about to head to Mongolia with our 3.5 yr and 23 month kiddos! I’m solider excited about the trip and we’ve taken the kids to Europe several times but most people just look at us like we’re crazy and wasting our time. Your post was positive and encouraging so thank you again! Happy travels!


      (August 13, 2016 - 5:24 am)

      Thanks Kellie, our children are near enough the same age then! Wow I’ve always wanted to go to Mongolia, so many amazing landscapes and such a different culture to ours, it’s definitely on my list! We have to have regular hospital appointments for Mayhem at the moment so housesitting really suits us. Hopefully in a couple of years we can do more long haul. Enjoy every minute of your travels!!


    (August 14, 2016 - 3:49 pm)

    Some great tips and wow… You make it all look so easy. I completely agree that going with the flow can lead to the most exciting adventures. Thanks so much for linking up to the #dreamteam xx


      (August 14, 2016 - 7:07 pm)

      Thanks Annette we have a great time traveling with the boys and try and enjoy every minute! xx


    (August 15, 2016 - 6:53 am)

    Absolutely agree with you! Travel is such a good thing. The more you do it with kids the easier it gets as it takes you out of your comfort zone xx We just need to learn how to go with the flow as opposed to micro managing every last detail xx #MondayEscapes #SharingTheBlogLove #DreamTeam


      (August 15, 2016 - 12:52 pm)

      Thanks. Yes going with the flow is so much easier with kids 🙂

    Bumble Bee Mum

    (August 15, 2016 - 7:07 am)

    My heart ached when I read about Mayhem’s operation.. Hope all it well now. Family time together is indeed so precious! I’m glad I travelled with my kids since they were babies.. The photos always make me smile. #MondayEscapes


      (August 15, 2016 - 12:53 pm)

      All is good now thank you. He had regular check ups, we’ve had really good health care in Portugal and now in Spain. Weer have so many great photos and memories to look back on too x


    (August 15, 2016 - 11:22 am)

    We get comments from family all the time about how we shouldn’t “waste” our travels on our kids because they’re so young. But we love it. They might not remember it but we remember. And I believe traveling with our children while they’re young makes them better travelers. #MondayEscapes


      (August 15, 2016 - 12:57 pm)

      Sounds similar to some of the reactions we got. We all love travelling too. Why not do something you love!


    (August 15, 2016 - 11:47 am)

    This is a great list. We love traveling with our littles even though it sometimes means we are doing more playgrounds and cafes then museums. I need to get to work on those photobooks though so they can remember some of the fun we are having 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Its always nice to know we are not the only crazy ones out there exploring with our little ones.


      (August 15, 2016 - 12:59 pm)

      Yes the pace is somewhat different and you can’t get all of the things done you may like to…but you can still do and see loads. So many photos and great memories 🙂


    (August 15, 2016 - 8:47 pm)

    We have only taken our girls to Europe, but I agree its good to get them to experience new place s when they are young. To see that the world is different to home. It can be difficult at times, but those moments happen at home too. I agree about going with the flow, I am getting better at this and it makes it so much more enjoyable. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x


      (August 16, 2016 - 12:45 pm)

      Thanks Laura. Yes it’s true I’d rather deal with a tantrum in a lovely location than at home! Especially if there’s a nice view 🙂

    Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    (August 16, 2016 - 2:49 pm)

    I think you’ve got this spot on! Children are never too young to travel and as long as you go with the flow, there will be so many precious memories. I love to think back to our travels with our son. Lots of beach holidays when he was a toddler, city breaks later on and road trips too. Now, aged 20, he’s very relaxed about travel and happily heads off with his girlfriend to explore new places. I feel proud that we gave him those experiences as a child. Keep on doing what you’re doing!


      (August 16, 2016 - 3:02 pm)

      Thank you Trish. It’s really good to know that your son is so relaxed about travelling. Hopefully our boys will be throughout their lives too 🙂


    (August 17, 2016 - 4:55 am)

    That’s a beautiful post. Lovely to hear that you are taking the time to travel around with your toddlers.

    Rosie Hill (@EcoGitesLenault)

    (August 17, 2016 - 9:41 am)

    I totally agree about travelling with toddlers and by doing so you set in them the seed of discovery that will grow as they do. #MondayEscapes


      (August 17, 2016 - 1:58 pm)

      Thank you Rosie. We can only try and do our best for our children. What a lovely way if putting it x


    (August 17, 2016 - 2:07 pm)

    I’m with you, we still take our two (a two and one year old) on our travels. It is harder and obviously a different type of ‘holiday’ but I think it does them as much good as us to travel and see and experience new things, even if they won’t remember it! Xx #fortheloveofblog


      (September 3, 2016 - 6:54 pm)

      Thank you for commenting. It certainly makes things more ‘interesting’ with the kids in tow and relaxing is definitely a thing of the past but we wouldn’t be without them!

    Hannah G, The 'Ordinary' Mum

    (August 18, 2016 - 5:33 pm)

    I think its so wonderful that you’re taking your toddlers on such wonderful adventures, I completely agree, I don’t think they’re too young to enjoy it. I have said to Hubby a number of times about how I’d love to travel whilst ours are younger but he’s a little more apprehensive about the idea than I am. Thank you for linking to #bigpinklink x


      (August 18, 2016 - 7:30 pm)

      Thanks Hannah. We obviously still get the tantrums and whinging but the kids really do love exploring. I’m sure it’s apprehensive changing routines for you but you never know unless you try. You’ll have to persuade your hubby. Once he’s given it a go he’ll see how much the kids benefit..hopefully!

    Mother Wayne

    (August 19, 2016 - 4:43 pm)

    Great tips! We travel full-time with our tiny and we love it!


      (August 19, 2016 - 7:37 pm)

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. I’ll be checking out your blog!

    Nick @ NotesFromADad

    (August 19, 2016 - 10:00 pm)

    Great tips, thanks for posting – I especially relate to going with the flow. Holidays are meant to be as stress free as possible, picking your battles and focussing on enjoying your time is priority 1!


      (August 20, 2016 - 5:39 am)

      Yes, totally, going with the flow is definitely the best option with two tantrum prone toddlers; if the kids are tired there isn’t any point trying to plan a raft of things to do! Thanks for commenting.


    (August 24, 2016 - 11:11 pm)

    Looks like much fun was had! Love that!


    (August 25, 2016 - 1:17 pm)

    Really enjoyed this. Plans are good but going with the flow is essential. We’ve done some great trips with both of our children at an early age and you can see their confidence when arriving at a new destination. I hope that this continues. Good luck.



      (August 25, 2016 - 1:48 pm)

      Thank you for your lovely comment. I will be checking out your blog. We are in Spain at the moment so may pop over to Mallorca!


    (August 27, 2016 - 8:47 am)

    Inspirational, I have nominated you for the liebster award 🙂


      (August 27, 2016 - 9:06 am)

      Thank you Jessica! We will have to get our thinking caps on


        (August 27, 2016 - 9:07 am)

        It took me a little while to put together as well 😂


    (August 27, 2016 - 10:26 am)

    Great post and agree with all your points. Travelling from a young age has made my son so much more observant and worldly wise! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes


      (August 28, 2016 - 7:17 pm)

      Thank you, it’s good to know that your son has really benefited from travelling!

    Lessons Learned From Traveling with Toddlers

    (September 1, 2016 - 12:08 am)

    […] via Lessons learned from Travelling with Toddlers — Topsy Turvy Tribe […]


    (November 15, 2016 - 9:24 pm)

    Amazing article@

    […] Lessons learned from Travelling with Toddlers […]


    (January 18, 2017 - 7:31 pm)

    The pictures are beautiful and good on you for not listening to people and following what you want to do❤

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (January 18, 2017 - 7:46 pm)

      Thank you for your lovely comment. Sometimes it’s harder to follow your own path but you reap the rewards if you are following your heart!


    (January 22, 2017 - 4:47 am)

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve really enjoyed the tips and also had my husband read it , hoping we can start planning for our Europe adventure. (cough, cough) 🙂

    Disneyland Insider

    (February 28, 2017 - 8:24 pm)

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I particularly liked the part about going with the flow. While they may. It remember every detail about the travel they did, the cultural diversity they experience will leave a lasting impact.

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (March 2, 2017 - 8:57 pm)

      Thanks! Yes, it’s o nice to let our children live a global life and develop as world citizens!

    Alana - Burnished Chaos

    (March 15, 2017 - 7:55 am)

    Great tips. Going with the flow and having plenty of snacks are definitely essential when you have toddlers, even if it’s just a trip to the supermarket! I think it’s incredible what you are doing and am in complete awe of all your amazing instagram pictures. I love reading about your travels x


    (March 15, 2017 - 2:04 pm)

    Love your opening sentence! This is full of great tips and should go down as the go to post for any wanting to travel with smalls – you make it sound so easy. Your photos are just beautiful – what a wonderful keepsake as the children grow older. The smile on your eldest’s face in the last photo says it all really! #FamilyFun

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (March 16, 2017 - 8:03 pm)

      Thank you got such a lovely comment! The boys are having a ball and so are we! Travel is as difficult as you want to make it, let’s face it going the supermarket is sometimes difficult enough with kids..ha, ha! Dream it, do it!


    (March 15, 2017 - 10:04 pm)

    Oh I couldn’t agree more the unexpected are definitely the best days and going with the flow certainly helps. Travelling with toddlers can be tough but like you say there are so many good things that you can remember and take with you forever. To my mind it is cerntianly worth it, these are all wonderful tips that’s I try to stick to as best I can. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun x

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (March 16, 2017 - 7:55 pm)

      Thank you got hosting and commenting. We can only try out best but surely it’s got to have a beneficial effect, at least for us anyway, ha!

    Hayley @Mission: Mindfulness

    (March 17, 2017 - 6:40 am)

    Such great tips – especially the last 2 – going with the flow is soooo important with littles! I’m so sorry about what you went through with your youngest – I had meant to comment on IG when you mentioned he had health probs and was at Gt Ormond St that I hoped all was okay now but I don’t think I did – so sorry. Pleased you all seem on super top form now and you’re enjoying life travelling – what a great way to respond to adversity 🙂 xx #familyfun

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (March 18, 2017 - 8:50 pm)

      Thanks Hayley, no problem about commenting on IG. It was a treble time when he was ill but he’s doing fantastically now, we all are! After all that happened we just knew we had to take some time out and enjoy life together!

        Hayley @Mission: Mindfulness

        (March 20, 2017 - 7:40 pm)

        Ah I’m so pleased to hear he’s doing so well now and that you got something wonderful from a horrible experience – adventures together in Spain xx


    (March 18, 2017 - 8:41 am)

    It’s fantastic that you are travelling with your littlies. They will be richer for it I am sure – all those fantastic experiences. #FamilyFun

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (March 18, 2017 - 8:52 pm)

      Thank you Helena, we really do hope that the boys benefit from our travels, we definitely have!

    Accidental Hipster Mum

    (March 18, 2017 - 8:46 am)

    I love this, it’s really highlighted how unadventurous we are. I think the furthest we’ve been was Lincoln with a toddler. That’s about 45 mins away in a car haha x


      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (March 18, 2017 - 8:54 pm)

      45 minutes in a car with a toddler is sometimes more than enough! Ha! I guess we have what works for us, if you get the chance, give traveling a go, you never know you might like it 😉


    (March 22, 2017 - 8:42 pm)

    These are great tips! #familyfunlinky

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (March 22, 2017 - 9:46 pm)

      Thank you, a lot of it is common sense but we have learned the hard way so thought it was definitely worth sharing!


    (October 1, 2017 - 1:20 pm)

    I agree with all of these points and like you don’t like the wait until they are older theory

    Thanks for sharing your perspectives with #fearlessfamtrav
    Leona recently posted…Fearless family travel #9My Profile

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (October 14, 2017 - 7:07 pm)

      Thanks Leona, waiting is always boring, we much prefer to just go for it!


    (October 2, 2017 - 12:45 pm)

    Great tips from the voice of experience there! My kids are now 9 so it’s a whole lot easier and the whole buggy/spare clothes type stuff is a distant memory. It’s so great seeing the world with kids the smiles on your kids faces say it all! #fearlessfamtrav

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (October 14, 2017 - 7:03 pm)

      Thanks for your lovely comment, I’m sure travelling with older kids it gets even better!


    (October 2, 2017 - 10:08 pm)

    Yes, snacks are definitely a must when traveling with young children. We’ve had people tell us the same thing- that we shouldn’t even bother. I admit traveling with toddlers can be stressful, difficult and sometimes even scary but the rewards are ten times more worth it. It’s also fun, unpredictable, and even inspiring at times. We love traveling with our kids. #fearlessfamtrav
    Allison recently posted…Stanley Park with KidsMy Profile

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (October 14, 2017 - 7:02 pm)

      Thanks Allison, out of all the memories we have made travelling the stressful and awkward times definitely don’t spring to mind, hopefully the good will always outweigh the bad!

    Jenny - TraveLynn Family

    (October 3, 2017 - 6:09 am)

    I absolutely love this and agree with every word. We love travelling with our 2 and 3 yo boys and so pleased we didn’t wait until they were older. Creating such special memories to last a lifetime. #wanderlustkids

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (October 14, 2017 - 7:01 pm)

      Thank you Jenny! We really have made the best memories travelling. Age is just a number and totally agree it should never be an excuse!

    Cath - BattleMum

    (October 3, 2017 - 1:56 pm)

    I couldn’t agree more with travelling with kids, even when they are young and with going with the flow. Although most of our days have some agenda, we tend to let things happen as and when and our best days out have been either unplanned or free flowing! #fearlessfamtrav

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (October 14, 2017 - 6:59 pm)

      Thanks for hosting and commenting Cath. Travel really is the greatest, our two love being on the go!

        Cath - BattleMum

        (October 19, 2017 - 12:05 pm)

        Thanks for linking up. There are some really valuable lessons to be learned from your post. We had also debated about our recent USA road trip, thinking “oh maybe we should wait until he can remember it” but I’m so glad we bit the bullet and booked it. Travel is exciting and adventurous whatever age your children are x

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