Traveling with toddlers can be torture.
New sights and sounds can be overwhelming to a young child and vacation excitement can quickly turn into temper tantrums if you're not prepared.
Here are 10 parent-practiced tips to help make traveling with toddlers fun.
1. Choose a family-friendly destination. Skip the crowded tourist destinations and opt instead for a locale that is accustomed to having kids around.
2. Safety first! Always make sure your child's car seat is properly secured. Also, use a removable window shade to help block the sun.
3. Pack entertainment. "Best bets for entertaining your child in the car and hotel room include favorite books, games and toys," says Nancy Wolpert of Nickelodeon Home Entertainment. For all-inclusive entertainment, she recommends two new DVDs that feature a collection of kids' favorite TV shows. "The Nick Picks and Nick Jr. Favorites DVDs will keep them entertained for hours," Wolpert promises.
4. Plan rest stops. If you're driving, break up the monotony by stopping every couple of hours (or more frequently if necessary). Kids need to stretch out after being cooped up in a car for a while. Consider bringing along a ball to kick or throw around during these breaks.
5. Be flexible. Set realistic expectations and let your child soak up the experience at his or her own pace. You might want to limit your activities to one a day. Otherwise, you could wind up with an over-stimulated toddler.
6. Bring water and plenty of snacks. Fruit, granola bars, mini juice cartons and small boxes of cereal make for great, healthy snacks.
7. Bring a beloved item. A blankie or cuddly toy will help your toddler feel safe and secure. Be sure to have a replacement on hand, too. It will save you some heartache should the original get lost.
8. Start and end your day early. Kids are at their best in the morning, so plan accordingly.
9. Stick to your routine. Eating, napping and playing at the same time each day may be all your child needs to feel comfortable in a new environment.
10. Take lots of pictures.