Traveling with J has been an incredibly rewarding experience. There is nothing that compares to the absolute wonder on the face of a toddler. They have the ability to see the extraordinary in the midst of what adults find ordinary and mundane. There is nothing more exciting to us as parents than watching our little guy giggle in fascination at the sight of swinging monkeys, clap in delight upon reaching the ocean, or run down the jet bridge screaming with excitement about boarding the flight.
Toddlers are incredibly curious little people. They honestly don’t know what things are for nor how they work yet, so they have an innate longing to explore and experience that make them great little travel buddies. Travel is a time when you can put that curiosity to good use by encouraging them to discover new things that they have never seen before.
At the airport, J will excitedly run around the seats, so we have built a luggage barricade a couple times and just let him play. The seats and luggage are like a jungle gym. On the airplane there are other interesting, out of the ordinary things for toddlers to explore (just don’t let the toddler hit the flight attendant button) – which is why with a toddler I would recommend a window seat. J loves to play with the tray table as well so we always keep our handy tray table toy to keep him entertained. We wait until he gets bored with that to pull our the iPad preloaded with Sesame Street episodes to placate him for the remainder of the flight.
At hotels, J is super curious about elevators (beware of the alarm button – right at toddler height) so we let him push the button to go to our floor. Once in the room, we give him a few minutes to explore it. I think giving him some time to check it out probably helps him to adapt to an unfamiliar setting.
We let J try new foods wherever we travel, but don’t push them on him if he seems hesitant. We take a squeeze fruit packet in case he doesn’t want the food, but only give it to him if it is clear that he isn’t going what we and everyone else in the restaurant are eating. I suppose this strategy is to blame for his high-class tastes in Peruvian coffee, Argentinian steak, and salmon sushi but oh well…
Everyone wants to keep their toddler safe and prevent them from being annoying to other people or breaking things. Beyond those limitations, their curiosity is an asset to be encouraged rather than a drawback. Furthermore, if you can learn from your toddler to reignite your excitement for the boring, commonplace things in your travels, every trip will be a fun adventure from start to finish.