Travel with a Toddler

Things have changed somewhat in terms of how we plan our holidays. Now, when we say we are going “on holiday”, we actually mean “We are going on an expedition.” It entails lists, careful packing and planning – how many toys can we squeeze in the carry-on luggage and how many snacks can a 16 month old need in a 12 hour flight (of which he should be sleeping most!). How many transfers can we endure and do we really need the stroller or can I carry a 13 kilo toddler and hand-luggage? Yes, it is the most incredible experience to be able to see the world with a child (I’m sure it gets EVEN more interesting with more), but let’s be honest. One no longer has the luxury of lazing about in a bed that you don’t have to make until 10:45 and then running down to grab the buffet leftovers. Now, we are the first people at the buffet (usually at around 7am). Until, we realised that travel with a toddler involves a paradigm shift. “5 star” means being able to leave the little one with the grandparents while sneaking out for a movie and popcorn.

It also means embracing that we are not going to be visiting art galleries and museums for 3 hour stretches. It means that petting zoos and parks are where we find ourselves, enjoying the fact that a holiday with a toddler entails going with the flow and not trying to do “what we used to do.” Things have changed and that’s okay! I must admit, I am seeing the world with new eyes, enjoying the little things and realising that our expectations as parents are the ones we need to be wary of. I expected our son to be as amazed by a peacock as I was, but instead, he barely looked at it and instead ran after a pigeon. I was hoping to get the perfect picture of him caressing a goat, but instead, he found the rolling hills in the petting zoo more fun and I ended up chasing him, carefully avoiding goat poo and enjoying his laughter as he found his own games more entertaining than mom’s scheduled fun 🙂

Take a deep breath and let your children set the schedule on holiday, if you can afford that luxury. Sometimes, it’s best to enjoy their pace. My favourite piece on children was written by the Lebanese writer, Kahlil Gibran in his famous “The Prophet”:

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

It makes sense to me more and more day by day. Lots of love,

xx MM


Modern Mommy Written by:


  1. Carolyn Augustus
    Mon, 03 August 2015

    I can totally relate to this. These days any trip or outing needs careful consideration since the destination or venue has to be child- friendly. Children teach us to slow down and re- examine our priorities. They are so resilient and help us to understand that the small things are what’s most important.

  2. Michelle le Roux
    Mon, 03 August 2015

    I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant and am really enjoying the posts about motherhood and the reality it brings with it. I’m look forward to also being a modern mommy! Thanks for the insight xxx

  3. Chanelle Steenkamp
    Mon, 03 August 2015

    Love this site, Love reading up on all your post.
    Iv’e got 3 kids of my own, 2 came with the package when i got married. But Love all of them to bits. So an outing with them is such a joy, adventurous day. Never a dull moment. Cherish every time spend with your kids. I thank God daily for my bundles of joy he has given me.

  4. Stayci
    Mon, 03 August 2015

    Reading all your post makes me so excited for the arrival of my niece or nephew!! 5 months to go!

  5. Natasha Poulton
    Mon, 03 August 2015

    This post helps me see that it is indeed possible to travel with a baby. My son is only 3 months old and we’ve only been on a weekend away. It felt like I packed the entire household. I suppose it will take some getting used to

  6. Quathar
    Mon, 03 August 2015

    Thank you for the honest read. We’ve yet to do any overseas trips with our little one, but a recent road trip (out of fear of flying just yet) to visit relatives was quite an experience. Diaper changes at gas stations, ensuring there’s always hot water for the next bottle feed and trying to keep him entertained in a car chair – it all made for an exciting adventure 🙂

  7. Mon, 03 August 2015

    True indeed, planning around your little ones is a lot of planning, i have a sixteen month old , and can relate quite well

  8. Mon, 03 August 2015

    Just Yesterday i was travelling from Pretoria to Johannesburg in a taxi with my two kids. One is 5 years of age and the other one is 1 year 4 months.It was hectic because it hot in the taxi we where in and the driver was not friendly enough to open the window for us. My daughter had to cry the whole way and the driver couldn’t be bothered by the screaming and fighting. All sorts of emotions where going through me but now is Monday that ordeal is over.

  9. Nwabi
    Tue, 04 August 2015

    I recently had to travel with my 14 month old to the Eastern cape by bus. I had to travel with his car seat, fit into my bag the 1.8kg tin of formula, all sorts of entertaining toys (which most I lost) and carry him on my lap. When I arrived I was exhausted, covered in butternut and needed a drink. It was indeed the longest trip of my life but he was good and slept through most of it. I would not trade him for anything. I love the love behind the effort.

  10. Gillian Adams
    Thu, 13 August 2015

    Our boy will be 4 months this week, so there are no family holidays or travelling of any sort to talk about yet. However, in the short time since he’s been home, I can relate to seeing the world with “new eyes.”

    One’s appreciation for those “little things”, don’t pass one by without an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I love the fact that he’s set a new pace in our lives, and teaching us so much by doing so. Already, he’s taught us that a child’s simplest need is to be loved. As you mentioned MM, often our expectations of ourselves as parents is what complicates matters.

    Personally, motherhood has made me want to be a better me. I an excited to see what more he has to teach us.

  11. Rowena Smith
    Wed, 04 January 2017

    Hi there

    I am looking for a bit of advice. My husband and I planned a trip to Italy this year but with little one on the way we are not sure if we should go ahead with planning it. What is the best,in terms of his age, time to travel with a baby?

    • Wed, 04 January 2017

      Any time is good to travel with kids with the right mindset. Just as any time can be bad – if you don’t have the right mindset and are not adequately prepared.

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