Regardless of if you travel by air, by land or by sea, traveling with toddlers is always a little tricky. Deciding what to bring along and what to leave behind can seem more complicated than solving the quadratic equation.

Since traveling with toddlers can be unpredictable, in the end, even the most well thought out plans may be confronted with the ever changing needs and mood of a traveling toddler. Fortunately by taking a few key things into consideration when planning your trip, you can avoid any major mishaps and be prepared for most any situation.

1. Research your destination

Take time to invest in where you’ll be staying. Familiarize yourself with what your home away from home will and will not have in it. Inquire about laundry facilities (both on and offsite), open areas for play, swimming pools, nearby recreational opportunities, local restaurants and more. Having a good understanding of your limitations will help you plan and prepare for your trip accordingly.

2. Think about sending stuff ahead of you

With the added costs of extra suitcases and the limited room in your vehicle, it may make sense to ship items down to where you’ll be staying prior to your departure. If you’re visiting friends or family, you may even wish to consider borrowing toys, highchairs or other bigger items. Some cities even have places that rent toddler gear and equipment.  Purchasing items like diapers once your reach your destination may also be a good option if you’re looking to save money or space.

3. Pack the essential gear

An umbrella stroller that fully reclines (which is great for naps on the go), a day bag that converts into a booster seat (Jeep makes a great one), a portable crib and a car seat are items that can make traveling with toddlers a little bit easier.  If your toddler is newly potty trained, consider packing a plastic sheet or waterproof pad to cover his sleep space.

4. Keep sleeping times and eating times consistent

There’s no bigger vacation kill than having an overtired, hungry toddler in tow. While you can’t predict what you’ll be doing every second of your vacation, plan your outings around sleeping and eating times the best you can.

5. Become familiar with the ins and outs of your travel mode

If you’re flying, be sure you’re familiar with the airlines policies on flying with children. Some airlines won’t allow you to have more than one car seat per row, so you’ll want to know that prior to arriving at the airport. If you’re flying or traveling by boat, inquire about early boarding and the current regulations regarding taking food and drinks on board. If you’re driving, plan how often you’ll need to stop for bathroom and stretching breaks and arrange the seating so everyone has maximum space and comfort.

6. Pack or purchase basic childproofing supplies

On vacation it’s a necessity to be sure your toddler has a safe and secure area to temporarily live in. Bringing along or purchasing a safety gate, outlet covers, and cabinet locks can save you tons of headaches and can go a long way in helping to keep your child safe.  Move furniture away from windows, tie up window blind cords, and arrange furniture to minimize tipping hazards.  Unplug and relocate table lamps or other items that could cause potential injury.

7. Pack plenty. Pack enough clothing to allow for accidents

Consider keeping one bag with you at all times that has a change of clothing, snacks, drinks, small toys or books and anything else you may need prior to reaching your destination. Keep a list of the items you’ve packed so you are sure to return home with everything you came with.

While traveling with toddlers takes a little extra planning, if you’re well prepared, you’ll enjoy your time away and be ready to deal with most anything that may come your way.

What are your best tips for traveling with toddlers?