Q • We have a toddler that we will be taking with us on our fall vacation in about three weeks. She doesn't do too well on airplanes, long rides in the car, in hotels or even in restaurants, all of which we will be doing. Do you have some tips that might help make our vacation a little easier with a toddler?
From a reader • The best advice we got for traveling with our toddler was to be sure that we bought two extra items of our son's favorite loveys. I thought this was a little extreme, but it certainly paid off as we actually lost his blanket, stuffed rabbit and his binky in the two weeks of our vacation. It saved the day in more ways than one. — Jill B. in San Diego
From Jodie Lynn • There's no doubt about it; traveling with babies and small children can present many challenges, especially when it's to an area and perhaps around people with whom the child may not be familiar.
Planning ahead for the trip and the different scenarios that you may find yourself in with your toddler is vital.
For example, having a stroller for your toddler will ease many of the potential problems that might arise. There are some hotels that have strollers available for children. Check with the one where you'll be staying.
If they don't, most airlines allow you to check in one stroller and even one car seat for free. However, only one of these is allowed to be checked in at the gate. Also keep in mind, in order to avoid a charge, the stroller needs to be less than 20 pounds.
Be flexible. Choose the best times to travel depending on your child's napping patterns. Maybe traveling earlier or later in the day than you'd previously considered would be best.
Pack easy, go-to snacks that your toddler likes in containers that open quickly and easily.
I agree with the reader's advice above; having extra items that are favorites of your child's is a great idea. It's much better to be safe than sorry in this situation when you're sightseeing, eating out, in the hotel room, etc.
Don't forget to take along music. Kids love to hear familiar music when they are in a situation where so much is unfamiliar.
Some other things to consider taking:
• Movies, finger food and clothes that can be worn as pajamas but also out and about.
• Sticker books, drawing boards and magnetic storyboards that do not have small pieces but can be small in overall size.
Include flexibility into all of your scheduled events and be prepared with a backup plan.
As you're probably already aware, your vacation will pretty much revolve around your toddler. It's always best not to plan any extraordinarily expensive activity so that if for whatever reason your child becomes ill or unusually unsettled and you have to leave, you can do so without becoming angry simply due to the amount of money that was wasted.
CAN YOU HELP?
Each year we go to my husband's grandmother's house for her birthday meal that she insists on cooking. Our two kids, ages 5 and 7, are vegan. Their great-grandmother doesn't understand what they can eat and how's it prepared. I'd like to take our own food for them but don't want to upset her. How's the best way to do this without everyone raising their eyebrows?