In this episode of Travel Talk, we talk to Tania Dixon from Magical Memory Planners and Tamra Greason from Lifestyling with Tam for tips on traveling with toddlers.
Tania is the mom of a two-year-old son and Tamra has a two-year-old daughter. These two moms share their thoughts about traveling with toddlers. Tania planned a trip for the two families and some others to head to Disney and share with us a little about their experience and their planning process.
What is the first thing you think about when planning a trip for a family with toddlers?
Tania believes each family is unique in how they plan their family vacations. Each toddler has different needs and so she finds out more about the family and how they function. Is their toddler more laid back and goes with the flow or full of energy? What will work best for them?
What is a good length of stay?
Tania had a great experience with both a 7-night stay and a shorter 4-night stay. Tamra is excited about the 7-night trip with 5 park days. They agree the non-park days are a good chance for the toddlers to have some downtime and get rested up for the park days.
What do you consider when it comes to resorts?
Tamra looks for a family-friendly hotel which is not hard to find at Disney. A hotel that has food conveniently available and the things she would need for her daughter.
What parks do you recommend and why?
The short answer? All of them. Disney has something for each age group in each park. On this trip with 5 park days, they decided they would do Magic Kingdom twice and pass on the hopper option.
Would you visit all 4 parks or would you skip any?
Tamara is excited to visit all 4 parks as well and wouldn’t want to skip any. She is excited to see her daughter experience each one.
What types of dining do you recommend?
Tania has great tips for dining. She loves the options Disney has for kids and especially likes family-style restaurants for children under 3 since they get to eat all they want for free. Liberty Tree Tavern is a favorite for her son.
How do you recommend planning your day, early start, naps, etc.?
They adjust to their children’s schedules on vacation. Most of the time they don’t take a nap, but if they do get tired, they can nap in their strollers. They have a stroller that can recline and is comfortable for them for napping. They will also be flexible. If they see their child is getting tired, they may go back to the hotel for some downtime.
When it comes to traveling to Disney, any tips for flights? Security and traveling with a stroller?
It all comes down to snacks and entertainment. Tania often gets a new toy that she thinks her son will really like and share it with him for the first time on the plane so he has something new to occupy his time. He will also enjoy a couple of episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or take a nap on the flight when it’s an early morning flight. They bring their strollers with them through the airport and it is a huge help to keep the kids contained so they are not chasing them or distracted when they have to handle flight check-in. Lastly, don’t forget to get a gate check tag for your stroller before you board the flight. You will do that with the gate agent not at the main check-in desk.
What about packing? What are some tips for what to bring/not bring?
There are a lot of things to pack and think about. This is always a tough one. To save on luggage space, Tania and Tamra place a grocery order for snacks, bottled water, and other items to be delivered to their resort. You can also throw in some single packs of laundry soap. Every Disney resort has a laundry room near the main pool. That way you don’t have to worry about packing enough clothes. We all know toddlers can be messy. Disney provides a pack ‘n play in the room so that saves on space, but bring a few items for toddlers to sleep with from home so they feel comfortable in a new place.
Once you have the trip planned, how do you tell the kids? When do you tell them? How do you prepare them for the upcoming trip?
They talk to the kids about their trip about a month before going. They like to share pictures and YouTube videos about the rides and characters so the kids will be more familiar with what to expect. Even pictures of the resort and the rooms can all help get the kids ready.
Here is a video of Tamra and Tania telling their kids about their upcoming trip.
Some people think you shouldn’t travel with toddlers or take them to Disney until they are older. What do you say to that? What are the pros of traveling with toddlers and how do you feel about it?
Besides the fact that they are mostly free to travel with children under the age of 3, both moms feel that the experiences they have from traveling will grow and shape their children as they develop. It is not just about if the child remembers the vacation, but instead having them experience a change in routine and new things. New sites, smells, foods, people, and sounds all help children grow in confidence to be willing and excited to try new things throughout their life. Plus, Tamra pointed out that we also go for us. Even if our children can’t recall a specific moment, as parents we will remember forever their faces and laughter from their first Disney vacation. You can capture those moments on camera and share them so they are even more ready for their next Disney vacation. Kids change so quickly so take them when the magic is real for them.
As an expert on traveling with a toddler, what is the best way for someone to reach out to you if they would like you to be their travel planner?
You can reach Tania a few ways:
Check out videos from her trip and connect with Tamra:
Additional resources for traveling with toddlers and babies: