Is a holiday really a ‘holiday’ with a toddler?

Well, I’m soon to figure this out. In just two days we set off on an overseas trip to the South Island of New Zealand. Mr. G and I have done this trip before, but it was just us, before Elliott was born. We drove around in a neat little car, enjoyed the luxuries of lovely hotels and restaurants, went a bit wild on jet boats, skiing and heli hiking on glaciers. This time we’re doing the family thing, in a motor-home.

I’m already nervous about so many things, I’m not even much looking forward to it because all of the ‘what ifs’ are running through my head. I was up till midnight last night checking the motor-home website and looking at the diagram of the vehicle to see where Elliotts booster seat would be installed. Realising that it’s right at the back of the van, I’m worried he won’t even be able to see us right up in front. If he can’t, he will be very unhappy. How on earth is he going to go on the long drives? I think I’ll end up sitting in the back with him.

I’m also worrying about the plane trip over. Will he sleep, will he be restless, will he throw one of his horrible tantrums in front of all the other passengers? Oh god, I hope not!

We chose to hire a motor-home for a number of reasons. We are on a tight budget and also it gave us a bit of flexibility. The only thing is, when Elliott wants his sleep, we are stuck there for a couple of hours…but, I guess, this is a forced reason to rug up, sit down and RELAX.  Although, when he is up and wanting to expel his energy and run around, well that’s not going to be relaxing. It’s definitely not going to be the same as having a hotel room or house where he can run loose!

So, I guess I’ll know in a week and a halfs time if a holiday is really a ‘holiday’ with a toddler. I’ll be an experienced ‘toddler traveller’ and will definitely do a post about my experience.

In the meantime, can anyone give me some tips about how to keep a toddler happy in the confines of a plane and/or motor-home?

Wish me luck!

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Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.

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25 Comments

  1. October 10, 2013 / 9:01 am

    One way I use to keep mine happy on long trips was I had a bag of little presents. Pretty wrapped treats, small toys and games (all from the $2 shop) and would had them over every now and then and as needed. The best part seemed to be the unwrapping and the box it came in. I also found nothing beats a portable DVD player for when they are really restless.

    • October 10, 2013 / 10:49 am

      That’s a really good idea but unfortunately I think I’ve left it too late to do that. I have the iPad with videos on it so I hope that works! Peppa Pig galore!

  2. October 10, 2013 / 9:04 am

    I don’t have any tips. I don’t think we went on a holiday while the kid lets were really little. I’m certain it will be fine. Pack lots of sparkly things and lots of colourful things. Fingers crossed 🙂

    • October 10, 2013 / 10:49 am

      Thanks Penny. I will find out very soon what works.

  3. October 10, 2013 / 10:16 am

    Sorry, no tips other than to try to relax and not have too much planned each day. Be flexible in your mindset and remember that it is a holiday so if there is no agenda you need to stick to and nothing that needs to be achieved in the day, that’s ok! Good luck and safe travels!

    • October 10, 2013 / 10:50 am

      Yes, you are very right. The fact that we are doing a campervan this time means we can move at our own pace and we really don’t have anything pre booked or planned so that’s a positive.

  4. October 10, 2013 / 10:59 am

    Lots of stickers! Especially the (more expensive) ones that can be removed easily afterwards. 🙂

  5. October 10, 2013 / 10:34 pm

    The IPad for sure fore plane and food, lots of food. I think holidays with toddlers can be great, we just have to change our expectations and perspective! Forget the holidays of old and relaxing, think of it as a great time to bond as a family and enjoy the little things. Take the tantrums and sleepless nights in your stride and just go with the flow!! Easier said than done I know, but that is our strategy!! x Karen

  6. October 10, 2013 / 10:39 pm

    oh wow, you’re definitely going to have a very different experience of NZ this time. Good on you for going anyway, despite all the obstacle of travelling with a toddler. I think you’re going to have some pretty interesting stories to blog about when you come back from this adventure! My best toddler travelling tip is to pack sticker books. They worked really well with my son on plane trips when he was little. Hope you have an amazing time.

  7. October 10, 2013 / 10:46 pm

    Absolutely! Kids are good travellers. Parents just make out like it’s hard for some reason.
    It’s not, you’ll have a blast!

  8. October 10, 2013 / 11:08 pm

    Ha, in answer to your question, no, it is just a change of location. BUT that’s pretty cool too.

  9. October 10, 2013 / 11:33 pm

    Having just come back from a trip to the UK with a 2 and a half year old I can totally understand your worries believe me.
    A tip someone gave me was to get some little cheapo presents and wrap them up nothing expensive but little things that they like, activity books, toy cars/ planes, small soft toys, books that sort of thing. Then you can use them on the flight, unwrapping the present takes a bit of time and makes it more exciting for them. You can say if they sit still for a certain amount of time you have a treat for them or something like that. it worked a treat for me on my flight as I was travelling on my own with him too on the way back.
    Otherwise Ipad apps, download films, programs etc if you have one.
    As for the motorhome idea, I think it is a great idea, it offers you much more freedom so you can stop when you want to and do whatever you want. We are looking into doing the very same trip to NZ in a motorhome in a few months time so I look forward to reading how you got on.
    Good Luck and enjoy it. Xx

  10. October 11, 2013 / 5:16 am

    We just plan everything around nap times, and make sure that the kids always get enough sleep. If they don’t that’s when things fall apart.
    Sure it’s not the same as holidaying without them, but it’s so much fun including them as well.
    Hope you have a lovely time xx

  11. October 11, 2013 / 6:21 am

    Eva – we flew home from China when our children (as babies) were 13months and 9 months. Then we flew from Australia to Canada to live for a year (15.5 hours) when our son was 11 months. We did an overnight train trip of 18 hours when he was 15 months, then flew from Vancouver to New York (5.5 hours) and did New York when he was 18 months. We flew to Disneyland when he was 20 months (3.5 hrs) and then drove up the California Coast to San Francisco before flying back to Vancouver. Finally when he was almost 2 we flew back to Australia (again 15.5 hours) – with no separate seat. You will be fine.

  12. October 11, 2013 / 7:23 am

    I’ve got so many tips for you go and check out my website. Look at “Flying with kids” and “Road trips with kids” to start.

    Also talk to your toddler and explain what will happen on the trip and what you expect of him. You will be surprised how much they understand.

    Good luck and would love to hear back on how you fared.

  13. October 11, 2013 / 12:46 pm

    We do lots of camping and long driving trips and 4WD’ing trips. One thing I’ll say is our girls have done this since they were small so both are fairly accustomed to it! However, I’d say my advice would be:
    – do longer legs of driving at naptimes so he can sleep in car seat…
    – have lots of healthy snacks… and several different sippy cups to add variety!
    – bring some books/toys and have them in a bag that Elliot can pull them out of himself. My girls love this and it takes them a long time to get through the bag
    – is there a CD he loves to listen to in the car?? Bring it! 🙂 It’ll be the anthem to your holiday but if it keeps him happy – my girls LOVE Justine Clarke!
    – Lots of breaks…. be realistic… he is a toddler and he will need lots of breaks! 🙂 Enjoy them…
    – Acknowledge (as you have above) that a holiday with your child is different to the memories of ones in the past. That certainly doesn’t mean it’ll be any less enjoyable or memorable.. 🙂

    Hope you have a fabulous time and look forward to hearing about how you went! The motor home is a fabulous idea… my in laws did that a few years back in NZ and loved it… 🙂

  14. October 12, 2013 / 12:07 am

    I was absolutely petrified about taking my 16 month old on an OS trip (14 hours total). I think I worked it up so much but with a few things to occupy her she was wonderful. They actually sleep like they would in a car! 😉

  15. October 12, 2013 / 1:10 am

    We have yet to brave a holiday with the littlies! It seems like you’re on the right track 🙂

  16. October 12, 2013 / 5:32 am

    Deep breath, I am sure it will go well. I think keeping flexible about how things go helps, since he will be out of his usual rhythm. But think of the wonderful things you will be able to show him! Hope it goes well 🙂

  17. October 13, 2013 / 12:28 am

    I often wonder if a holiday is really a holiday when you take kids with you!! But I think if you go in with the understanding that you’ll need to take things slow and spend a fair bit of time just hanging around, playing and relaxing, rather than trying to fit in a million ‘special things’ it goes a lot smoother and you stress a lot less!

    Have a fab trip!

  18. October 13, 2013 / 7:38 am

    My only tip is to be flexible. Wishing you all the very best and safe travels. I look forward to hearing about your experiences when you return and learning from any advice you share. Elise @ Creative Play Central

  19. October 13, 2013 / 10:50 am

    Oh, how I miss NZ. I had my best holiday there. It was the last holiday we had before kids. It was so relaxing and terribly indulgent.

    I’m sorry that I have no tips for you. My hubby keeps hassling us to take a holiday, but it all just seems like too much work for me.

    So, I’ll be watching your blog closely and waiting for you to share your hot tips.

    Enjoy.

  20. October 13, 2013 / 11:22 am

    Good luck
    Looking forward to hearing about it
    I think any travel with kids needs a holiday after your holiday just to unpack wash & reorganise yourself

  21. October 13, 2013 / 11:24 am

    Oh please lovely – just relax and have FUN! NZ is super cruisy, everyone is very friendly and motorhomes are DA BOMB!!! I’m a Kiwi and someone who has travelled in a motorhome. You know you don’t have to be up front when travelling, you can travel with you boy in the back, depending on what vehicle you have. It will be amazing! Just try take each day as it comes, enjoy the amazing scenery and don’t sweat the small stuff. I would LOVE to take our three to NZ in a motorhome, so jealous!!!!!!