Mothers’ Stories

How to survive a holiday with toddlers

How to survive a holiday with toddlers
Published : May 18 , 2017
Latest Update : September 25 , 2023

By: Lama Arrabi, a mother of two

Every mother travelling with a toddler younger than two-years-old dreams of stepping on a plane and finding an extra vacant seat. So what about travelling across the continent with a toddler boy and a baby girl who was exclusively breastfed, both who are still in diapers? That's something to talk about! 

During the beautiful spring season, my husband and I were eager to explore a new country and a new culture. So, we took the chance and decided to visit Malaysia with the kids, two-and-a-half-year-old Ali and 10-month-old Yasmeen, for 18 days. The adventure began as soon as we booked our flights and accommodations and planned our schedule. The trip would involve nine flights: from our hometown to Malaysia, internal flights and then heading back home. 

A Girl sitting in a chair

It starts with packing. Always remember when you are packing for toddlers and babies, nothing is too much, BUT keep it smart. That sippy cup that your kid loves and makes life easier while at home? It will make your trip easier as well, pack it! Circumstances and settings are hardly under your control while travelling.

so you need to be prepared by considering:

  • A sufficient change of clothes.

  • Baby gear.

    It was much easier and more convenient to handle two single strollers than manoeuvring a double stroller.
  • Diapers and wet wipes.

    We wanted to save time and effort, so instead of looking for suitable diapers in Malaysia, we took the whole needed supply of diapers for two kids along with us. Crazy, but doable!
  • Basic medications.

     Think medicine for fever, cough, allergies, diaper rash, etc.
  • A couple of their favourite toys.

a girl drinking milk in a chair

The first flight to Malaysia had a layover in Sri Lanka and since that layover would be long, we decided to book a hotel room for the night and try to minimize the effect of the eight-hour time difference. Fortunately, it actually worked; the kids were energized and fresh! Airport time, a pain! But wait, I have some tips to help you survive a 12-hour journey with toddlers:

  • Keep your hands free!

    Prepare a carry-on bag with these items: light cover-ups (aeroplanes and airports can be cold, especially when your kid is asleep), a change of clothes (accidents happen!), diapers, wet wipes, sippy cups, a beloved toy to keep them busy, breastfeeding cover-up and snacks! I know you would think you could just get snacks at the airport, well, trust me, a moment will come when your kid is hungry and you are in a queue, or worse, the nearest shop in the airport is a 20-minute walk away. So, a readily available snack will save you!
  • Don’t overstress, you cannot control it all when you are travelling with toddlers!

     They will bump into people, be really loud or have a tantrum when you take them out of their strollers so they can go through security gates, just because it is their property! Yes, that did happen! When travelling with kids, do not stress about what people are thinking about you and your family. Remember that it isn't normal for toddlers to be in airports and hopping on and off aeroplanes, so they ought to have unusual reactions! 


We have finally arrived at our first destination and started following our schedule, and we were very busy and active. But after the first two days, I was collapsing! When we used to travel before children, and even with our firstborn baby, we would explore every corner and visit every interesting spot in the city. And as much as we tried to do so again this time, it wasn't going to work. Our mind was set on doing it the same old way, but the fact was that we needed to manage our expectations. That was what caused my frustration; an unrealistic schedule. 

a boy playing with birds

So, we reacted quickly and fixed our plan from visiting three places a day to visiting one or two maximum. That allowed us to enjoy the places we have been to, saved us the hassle of multiple transportation arrangements, and gave our kids some time to have peaceful naps in their strollers during the day. It is all about perception; how you perceive your trip. Since you opted to take the kids along, you will have to consider that their needs will affect your plans. But, balance is key. Balance your trip between kid-friendly/oriented activities, and activities you might be interested in so that none of you would feel left out.

When kids come along, it is a family trip, not a kid’s getaway. This is what I learned by experience; try to satisfy all parties. So, when you go to a water park, it is a beautiful family getaway, but with two toddlers you will be mostly stuck in the kid-friendly area. But do not worry! Tomorrow will be your turn to go shopping, or maybe head on the dreamy safari trip. Always have some slots booked for the things that interest adults so you won't get frustrated and disappointed with your trip. Finally, travelling with toddlers for a different kind of vacation that left me with some takeaway tips for any family planning to do the same: 

  • Keep them fed

    . When a toddler is hungry or low on sugar, things will take a bad turn! Make sure to keep them full of good healthy food and try to maintain meal times at the same time as usual. This then gets me to breastfeeding while travelling, which I think needs a different setting to talk about, but in short, be confident, there is no shame in breastfeeding your toddler in public. If there is no private place to do it, as long as you are covered up and comfortable, go for it.
  • Naps are vital.

    The second worse thing after having a hungry toddler is a sleepy one. Try your best to let them have a good nap. There is no need to go all the way back to the hotel, a nap in the stroller will do.
  • Keep them involved.

    Toddlers can sense your frustration, and they will become frustrated as well. So, if you keep the balance and satisfy all parties, they will feel like a part of the trip and actually enjoy it. When you set some plans for the trip to satisfy your interests and theirs, you will all end up feeling happy.
  • Believe in your toddler.

    Toddlers have superpowers you might not know about until you travel together. They are strong, they can handle some tiredness, unfamiliar situations, sleep in the most un-accommodating settings and even maybe tolerate food with some heat! So do not try to go overboard trying to create the most comfortable and familiar settings for your toddlers during the trip. Trust me, they can handle some disturbances.

a boy sleeping in  CHAIR

  • Tired but happy.

    Perception, again. You just need to accept it, running around the whole day between touristic activities, the needs of two toddlers and yourself is tiring. But it is okay. Do not let a vomiting incident, a diaper leak or a tantrum ruin your day.

At the end of each day and, more importantly, at the end of your trip, always think of the joy you had, the blessing of getting the chance to have those good times with the whole family and have your kids experience it in an early age. This is your family adventure, go ahead and enjoy it!


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