Vacationing and Traveling with a Toddler --Advice and Opinions?

Updated on March 18, 2014
H.A. asks from Colbert, WA
19 answers

Hello Ladies!

I was wondering if I could get some of your experienced opinions!

We are planning our first "vacation" (not visiting family, just us away for a fun weekend) with our toddler (he will be 4 when we go) to Seattle to the Science Center and Woodland Park Zoo. Our son has been asking to see a "real museum " and we finally have enough saved to take him (we have nothing like either place here).

So my questions are these:

What are some of your favorite road trip experiences, advice, suggestions, things we "must" bring? Our road trip will only be 4 1/2 hours, but I hear toddler travel can be dangerous.

Can anyone recommend a good carry-all bag I can store necessities, a small cooler for lunch, snacks and water bottles? Something we can fit in the bottom of the stroller or across the handle (our stroller is a three wheel off road so it can handle weight on the hand holder)

What are your suggestions on being out all day with a toddler, both places have a play area and plenty of rest areas, but what are your experiences? What has worked best for you?This is our first trip with just the three of us and I find myself a bit lost on preparing.

Any additional tips on the Seattle area is greatly welcomed.

Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

Wow I'm extremely surprised at the variety of responses.

I really don't think I'm over thinking anything. I was simply asking for suggestions and advice, I didn't expect to get lectured. So many responses were that I am "over-doing" "over thinking" followed by a SHORT STORY about what or how I SHOULD BE doing things.

I'm sorry I offended so many of you by calling my 3 year old, who isn't in preschool, a toddler.

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answers from Seattle on

Mine have traveled in the car and on planes since they were babies. For car trips, I just loaded up a cooler with snacks that would stay in the car, packed the strollers and carrier for the small one and hit the road. Remember to pack extra clothes even if you are only going for the day, just in case he needs them. Bring small toys to play with in the car, munch on snacks & water, sing songs, maybe pop in a book on tape to listen to.

I carry a backpack to zoos and other places for day trips. If we had the strollers, I'd carry a small insulated cooler bag for drinks and sandwiches. Although, some days at the zoo we just pack light and buy lunch. It's a treat to not have to worry about so much stuff.

Bring his favorite blanket or lovey in the car too, in case he wants to nap. Have fun!

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answers from New York on

I don't know Seattle, but I live in NYC with our 3.5 year old. We travel very light. I may or may not have a granola bar in my purse and that's about it. We buy all of our food & snacks on the march because I can't be asked to tote the food and mind my kid (others might feel differently about this).

My kid can manage an hour on the subway, waiting on the museum admission line, right to the cafeteria for a snack, then 2+ hours in the museum, then another meal, then an hour on the subway for the return. It's roughly a 6 hour day. Anything more than that and he starts to get cranky. We have another bite on our return, nap for about an hour, then play, dinner, play and bedtime routine.

We address the rules of the road before hand - sit down nice, hold mommy's hand, no running, talk quietly, stand back from the platform edge.

We give our kid a mission, in addition to seeing the exhibits, something age appropriate, like scouting out everything blue, or pointing out roadsigns, or looking for the biggest painting in each room, or searching for the purple elevator. It keeps him interested and engaged at his level.

We don't use a stroller. It would just be one more thing to carry/ manhandle.

One more thing, if I can find opportunities for him to be a wild child, jump, hop, run in circles, or otherwise get his wriggles out, it gives me a lot more mileage in my day and makes it far more pleasant. So sometimes we spend a few minutes walking along a retaining wall, scrambling an empty staircase backwards, hoping along paving stones, you get the idea.

As for 4+ hours of travel, after doing >24 hours international to Australia with a 22 month old, travel no longer phases me. Our kid is pretty content to talk about road signs, passing cars, funny things which happened on daniel tiger, sing the alphabet song, look at some books, and if he's good, he gets to honk the horn one time when we get back into the car after a potty/ coffee break before getting into his car seat.

Sounds like it will be a great trip.

F. B.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Four is pretty big, I consider a toddler a walking baby still in diapers :-)
We always traveled with our kids, from birth, so by the time they were four they were carrying their own little backpack with water, toys and snacks and rolling their own little suitcase through the airport. The stroller was ditched way before that, it was more of a pain than a help.
My advice:
-get on the road early, like at 4 am, chances are he will sleep most of the way there and when you stop he will be wide awake and ready for breakfast.
-listen to a children's book on tape/CD in the car
-take it easy and have fun! Don't try to see and do "everything" just go at his pace, drink lots of water and take breaks as needed.
We went to the children's museum in Seattle years ago and it was a lot of fun. My kids were young at the time and on their feet the whole day. My baby was just a year old and the other two were four and six and they did great.
Don't overthink it, it's really no different than going to the zoo or museum in your own town.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Wear a backpack and bring an umbrella stroller. You have a big stroller, which is probably fine, but I like the umbrella ones for the small footprint in crowds. Bring things the kid would like, travel during nap or nighttime. Bring a bag of small toys and books for the trip and plan to stop to stretch legs, get food, etc. 1/2 way there. At 4 he can do a lot of walking, so unless you are walking far between activities, consider leaving the stroller home. My DD was not quite 3 when we went to the UK and the stroller was handy. She's 5 now and we generally travel without one but last year I took the stroller to the zoo. She did DC this weekend on foot. I would have a plan, but be flexible. Find out if it's worth your time and money to eat outside of the museum or if you should dine in. Make sure you can take food into the facility. Find out what exhibits are available and hit all the favorites first. Then if you are tired, you can just skip the rest.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Have fun!

For the driving part of the trip: a map. Not a real map, but think "Dora the Explorer" type of map. First we'll pass A, then B, then C, then D. The landmarks can be bigger towns, or something he can see from his window. It helps with the "Are we there yet?" questions, because he can use the landmarks on his map to mark progress.

If you have either a car DVD player or handheld electronics, you can do those. If not, whatever he likes to play with: magnetic drawing board, or other things he can hold. At 4, he probably knows his numbers and letters, so you can play the sign alphabet game, or the same game but with numbers is a little easier for that age.

Know the museum hours and plan from there. For the day at the museum - my kids are their best in the morning. So we get up early and try to be at the museum when the doors open. If your son still naps, I would suggest a nap around 2, then back to the museum after nap if you didn't see it all (assuming it's open in the evening, and assuming they'll allow in-and-out).

For a carry-all, I use any large backpack or small duffel bag and put it under the stroller. I put in a small soft cooler with drinks, and everything else in a big ziplock. Also in the bag, an extra shirt and pair of pants for the little guy in case he spills his drink or something like that - also in a big ziplock, because then you have something water-tight to put the wet clothes in.

ETA: With the nap, I was assuming you were going for an over-night and would have a hotel. Obviously that won't work if you are going for the day. In that case, just have him relax in the stroller for a walk if possible in the mid-afternoon. Along the same lines, I think Diane B has the right idea with leave extra clothes and such in the car, and just carry a small backpack with a drink and small snack. And someone else was also correct that some museums won't allow strollers, so check on that before you get there. My 4 year old walks the science museum, but rides in the stroller for the zoo.

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answers from Washington DC on


My definition of toddler does NOT meet up with YOUR definition of toddler. A toddler to me? A child between the age of one year and 2.5 years - LEARNING TO WALK - hence the name "toddler". Your 4 year old is a pre-schooler.

You can expect a lot more from a 4 year old than you can from a 2 year old.

1. Prepare him for the trip. Show him the websites of the places you plan to him what he can get excited about...

2. ASK the facilities you plan on going to if they even allow outside food or liquids. Many places no longer allow water bottles, coolers, etc. Leave the cooler in the car...period.

3. Ask the facilities where you are going if they allow strollers - ANY type of strollers...they might not.

4. STOP OVER THINKING feels like you are making this into some international trip with a 20 hour flight. I realize you are excited and don't want to forget anything - but the more you over think this - the worse and more stressful it will become for you..

5. Even though your 4 year old is potty trained? Stop EVERY TWO HOURS to let him out to run...and go to the bathroom - it's also recommended by doctor's to get out every two hours and stretch...keeps the blood from pooling and clotting for adults as well as children.

6. When my kids were younger? We still took their lovey with us on road trips. Even at 4 years old? I would expect my child to sleep in the car. What did I have in the car for them?
a. At the age of 4? We had books and simple toys for them to play with. It all fit into a small back pack.
b. when they were older? We had the portable DVD players. We had those when we were driving from Virginia to Massachusetts and from Denver to Montana...those are long drives for ANYONE and they needed the with our minivan - we have the video system - and it's only on for trips over 3 hours.
c. We played games - even now - how many different state license plates we can 4 years old - he should know the alphabet - so you can do the alphabet game - use the letters from license plates and signs to get through the whole alphabet....

7. Diaper wipes - even if he is potty trained - keep diaper wipes kids are 11 and 13 and I STILL keep diaper wipes in my purse!! Some of my friends laugh - but who do they turn to when they spilled something or got something on their hands that a Kleenex won't take care of??? ME!!!

8. If you are staying at a hotel? If this is his first time - prepare him for that as well. Will he have his own bed or what can he expect? The more informed kids are- the better off they are...if you are staying at a hotel - make a to-do list...even for the trip - make a to-do list - then you won't feel so over whelmed..

1. Call Museum
do they allow strollers?
do they allow outside food?

2. Call hotel
Find out about beds

3. Car Packing
- neck pillow for son
- books for son
- toys - in backpack
- GPS address pulled in
- car/wall chargers for cell phone
- map(s)

Take a deep breath. Don't over think this. Prepare him and yourself for this trip...IF YOU ARE STRESSED? He will be stressed. If you are excited? He will be excited!!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

You are worrying WAY too much about this! We took our 2 year old (I agree that I wouldn't classify a 4 yo as a "toddler"), to DC last fall and I don't think I spent nearly as much time preparing as you are. Just think about what you use on a daily basis. A little cooler or lunch bag with an ice pack is more than enough for a 4 hr drive, you might look ahead for a good stopping place to eat and take a break from the drive. When we did a 14 hour drive with our DS (he was much younger, around 18 mos), I had new toys and books just for the trip so it wouldn't be the same stuff. I actually just put stuff away a couple months before so it seemed new to him. I don't think I'd mess with a stroller with a kid that age, just a backpack for the zoo if you are bringing a picnic, otherwise let him walk. I've never known a 3 or 4 year old to be happy riding around in a stroller when there's so much to look at. Our zoo has wagons you can rent for a few dollars, my son is almost 3 and always is excited to get to ride in the wagon rather than his normal umbrella stroller. You might call and see what they offer, that could cut down on the packing a big stroller you may or may not use. We were in Seattle a few months ago (without the kiddo), but their public transit was easy to use and clean. So if your son likes trains, he will probably be more than happy to go for rides to get where you are going without messing with the car. Don't stress, you'll be fine!

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answers from Norfolk on

4 is a great age for a first trip!
That's the age we took our son to the beach (Rehobeth Beach) the first time.
Glow sticks make great night lights.
Make sure you plan some down time - they get cranky when they are exhausted.
We would hit the beach in the morning after a big breakfast, then swim in the pool for a bit before we cleaned up, did lunch and took at nap in the hotel.
After nap we walked the boardwalk and did the little amusement park then did supper.
We've never been to Seattle so I can't help you there.

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answers from Raleigh on

KISS- keep it simple and smooth. I've taken my toddler, whom is 2 yrs old and my mom whom has dementia for the last couple of years. We've flown to Las Vegas, Orlando and New Orleans. We also took road trips to near by beaches. I'm an expert traveler since I used to work for a major airline for a few years. I would just bring a big purse, that tripled as a diaper and snack bag. I carried an umbrella stroller that's very light weight and packed a lot of patience :). You can bring snacks but I wouldn't bring a cooler, have enough money to buy a meal while out. Make sure your child goes to the bathroom before the start of the road trip, on breaks and before you all return home so you all don't have to make a million stops. But most importantly have fun and enjoy your first family vacation.
Best of luck!


KISS- keep it simple and smooth. I've taken my toddler, whom is 2 yrs old and my mom whom has dementia for the last couple of years. We've flown to Las Vegas, Orlando and New Orleans. We also took road trips to near by beaches. I'm an expert traveler since I used to work for a major airline for a few years. I would just bring a big purse, that tripled as a diaper and snack bag. I carried an umbrella stroller that's very light weight and packed a lot of patience :). You can bring snacks but I wouldn't bring a cooler, have enough money to buy a meal while out. Make sure your child goes to the bathroom before the start of the road trip, on breaks and before you all return home so you all don't have to make a million stops. But most importantly have fun and enjoy your first family vacation.
Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

a soon to be 4 year old is not a toddler.

down here in Georgia, strollers are not permitted in many of the museums and places, especially for a 4 year old. he is old enough to walk on his own. Break your day down into pieces so he's not overwhelmed and not over tired, if you do that, he won't have a meltdown. He might because he's out of his routine. Be prepared for that.

I don't know what's dangerous about toddler travel. That makes me shake my head.

The KISS method is the best method - Keep It Simple Silly. Yes, I think you are over-thinking this. Prepare like you would for any day you'll be out all day.

To save money, check to see if they offer a multi-site pass.Here if we buy tickets to the Coca-Cola museum, we can get what they call a CITYPASS to the aquarium, Pemberton Place, and the Coca-Cola museum.

I will assume that since it's a 4 hour drive, you are leaving the night before and spending the night in a hotel.

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answers from Chicago on

I think you are worrying unnecessarily. Your child is not a toddler. He's a preschooler. Preschoolers are much easier to travel with than toddlers. Your trip is also relatively short. 4.5 hours is nothing.

If you still have a diaper bag, bring that along for storing snacks, water bottles, a complete change of clothes for him.

As far as being out all day, he should be fine. My youngest was still 3 last summer when we visited the Milwaukee Zoo. He walked all day, the entire zoo. I had the stroller, but he refused to get it in it. I used to hold the bag and water bottles! If your son gets tired, he can ride in the stroller.

I've been to the Seattle Science Center. It's a really neat place for the whole family to enjoy. I've also been to the aquarium. It's been about 10 years but it was really nice too.

Enjoy your first vacation!

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answers from Santa Fe on

My advice to you's easy! We travel a lot and take our kids with us. When they are toddlers/preschoolers I usually take a very small lightweight stroller if we will be walking a lot. And a backpack for a drink and snacks. Sometimes I notice my kid is getting tired in the afternoons, so we will chill out at the hotel for "rest time" and watch a movie or even nap (my kids all quit naps by age 3, but sometimes when traveling they get extra tired). Besides that I do what I normally would do. I don't take a bunch of stuff to carry around bc I like to travel light. I buy what I need at grocery stores along the way. I do not bring a cooler unless it's a long road trip or car camping trip.You can buy anything you need along the way.

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answers from Boston on

When our kids were little, we had a travel bingo game - it had little windows you slid closed over the item once you sighted it so there were no chips or bingo pieces to deal with. There's probably an electronic version now. If not, low tech still works! It's great for kids who don't read or know their numbers - it just has pictures or silhouettes of common highway items - bridge, motorcycle, tractor trailer, speed limit sign, etc.

We also had a small box of "car only" toys that never came into the house, but were taken into restaurants for idling away the time while waiting for the food to come. We used those little wooden carved games with the golf tees as markers - they could be used in all the enclosed games, like Tic-Tac-Toe and other simple classic games. So I'd suggest you buy a few SMALL toys and special things just for this trip, and dole them out one at a time.

Go to the public library and see what they have in the CD department - you can borrow a bunch of things for a week. Playing sing-along CDs is a great way to involve the whole family - there are familiar tunes, American classics that every child should know (when I was teaching music, I was appalled at how many kids had never learned "Baby Beluga" or "Oh Susannah"!!), and many are complete with finger play activities that can be so much fun and really pass the time. I know a lot of cars have DVD players or people use portable ones, but to me, kids miss the experience of enjoying the travel, the sights and (gasp!) their parents!! While you're at the library, look for an old book of travel games - the stuff everyone played in the car before they had electronics. These are new and exciting to today's kids, and they cost you nothing!! At 4, you have to distract and divert - you can't just talk them out of being impatient. But turning it into an adventure is a great stress-reducer. My parents drove us from NY to Texas over 4 days. We occupied ourselves!

Stop a few times at rest areas and walk around/stretch. If you would feel better with a "kiddie leash", get one! Beware that the big plazas that have a gas station, a McDonald's, a pizza place etc. often have decent and clean rest rooms, but they also have strategically-positioned touristy gift shops with all the expensive stuff at kid-eye-level! You don't want these pit stops to turn into the activity and money pit of the day!

Take a few snacks, a jug of water you just use for washing up sticky fingers (we always took a bucket or a big plastic container to catch the rinse water, then dumped it at the next rest stop), some wet wipes, and some bottles with built-in straws for our own water & drinks (you don't want juice boxes in the car!). Take a few extra plastic grocery bags for trash, then tie them up and dispose of them at any rest stop. Have a hand towel and maybe an old beach towel. We even - I kid you not - took the little potty seat with us: "Mom I have to go NOW" is pretty frustrating when you're on the interstate and not near an exit! But we could always pull over on a wide shoulder and make a stop as needed. We put a plastic bag liner in the potty and kept extras on hand. See note above about old beach towel too!

It rains in Seattle - so get a few $1 ponchos at the dollar store or in the camping area of the bigger stores. They fit well over a stroller or you can cut one down to child size. And get a couple of collapsible umbrellas with loop handles that can be slung over the stroller handle or stuck in the mesh pocket. Life in Seattle doesn't stop just because it rains.

Since you will have your car, I'd put a decent sized cooler in the car where you can reach it, and not plan on taking a heavy cooler with you in the stroller. If you can find a soft-sided one that collapses, that's easier. We have one that's a padded cube shape with a strap on it, and it goes everywhere with us. It can sling on the back of a stroller or be carried like a shoulder bag. We use one blue ice block that can be refrozen in a hotel room fridge - if you aren't requesting a fridge, think about doing so! You might also take along a small step stool to help your son reach the toilet and the sink in the hotel room. Bring one or two small, new tub toys and maybe a small bottle of bath bubbles. Get the smallest possible container of dishwashing liquid to wash out your cups and containers, and bring an extra dish towel in case the hotel doesn't give you a lot of hand towels. You'll need one for a dish "drainer" anyway!

The 3 wheeled jog stroller is great for outdoor trips like a zoo. I'd take (or borrow) an umbrella stroller for indoor museums - there are crowds, and kids like to jump up and run around to look at exhibits (a good thing) and then one parent is stuck maneuvering the big stroller through crowds and onto elevators, which is a nuisance for everyone. Many attractions allow you to bring in your own food and eat at the public dining areas. Museum/zoo food is expensive and lines can be long - yes, it's a profit center for them, but they also seem to know that many people have food sensitivities, and they are used to hosting school field trips where every child and teacher brings a lunch from home. Remember that the idea of a museum is great for a kid, but that he's likely to have a limited attention span and tire out quickly. Be prepared to leave early and just go have fun. That's where the discounted admission pass can be such a blessing - you don't feel you've invested so much money and then he's done in an hour. Also, museums also can have outdoor parks or be near them - so don't be afraid to leave for a little bit and then get readmitted with your hand stamp.

Look into memberships you might already have for reduced admission to attractions. For example, we have a number of museums that accept each other's memberships - so if there is something in your area that you already belong to (or would like to), see if they have reciprocal free or reduced admission deals with other museums around the country. If you are a AAA member, see what they have for discounts, either by presenting your membership card or by using a discount coupon they have for areas all over the country. They also have a free travel service - we think of AAA for emergency towing only, but they have many other services.

So the idea is to have extra things in the car, but not always be hauling them around with you. Take more than you think you need and then you won't have to spent vacation time searching out stuff. Borrow what you don't think you'll need going forward, or at least to try it out to see if it's something you want to invest in!

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answers from Seattle on

First, my preschooler stopped using the stroller when she was almost 3yo. You might as well bring it, since you're driving, but you might not need it that much. At the zoo, it's good for carting stuff around. Just make sure not to leave _any_ food in the stroller if you leave it unattended outside. The crows and/or squirrels will have a field day. I've seen this more than once. (And if looking for a good kid-friendly place to eat, try Tutta Bella in Wallingford for pizza. It's near the zoo.)

You will not want your stroller at the Pacific Science Center. If you park nearby, you might want to retrieve it from the car to visit the rest of the Seattle Center. After you've visited the Science Center, though. And there are lots of cool things at the Seattle Center. The fountain is extra cool, there are new solar flower sculptures outside of the Science Center (NE corner). There are tons of great food options in the Field House (The Seattle Children's Museum is located in the basement.) And my preschooler loves watching the elevators go up and down the Space Needle. Oh, and you could take a roundtrip on the monorail to downtown, which would take very little effort (again, the stroller would be a pain for this trip).

I'm not sure why toddler travel (or, in this case, preschooler travel) is said to be dangerous. It's no more dangerous than infant, grade schooler, high schooler, or adult travel. Just make sure he has a comfortable car seat (or booster, if he's already in a booster). If a booster, make sure there is enough padding and that it has a back.

Good luck and have fun!

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answers from Chattanooga on

Honestly. I think you are overthinking it a bit.

4 years old is a preschooler.. Not toddler. (I don't mean to sound snarky, but the expectations for toddlers and preschoolers are completely different.)

We went to Gattlinburg last summer with my DD (3yo at the time...) we were exploring downtown, going through he aquarium, museums, etc. just walking around all day. (8 hour drive...)

Just take some books along for him to look at on the drive. Try to time it so you are driving when he will be sleeping- either early or late. A few snacks and small toys wouldn't hurt either. Otherwise, if he gets antsy, try playing road games. (Can you find a red truck? A green car? A semi? Etc.) also, if you are driving through a town and it has been a while since you stopped... Stop and have a potty break, even if he says he doesn't need one. Chances are, as soon as it's inconvenient he will have to go NOW! Lol.

As for the trip itself, I would just find a small cooler that will hold the food, drinks, and snacks. I wouldn't bother with a carry-all to put the cooler in. Honestly, on our trips we don't even bother with a stroller. My DD is the type that hates to be confined to one, but does well with waking alongside us, so we personally don't need one. Some kids do, so there is nothing wrong with taking yours if you think you will need it. We just bring along a backpack so we have somewhere to toss our souvenirs. :)

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answers from Chicago on

Your little one is a preschooler not toddler lol. But I digress. If this is your first trip plan to do things in the morning and afternoon but plan to be back at the hotel in time for a swim and dinner and bed at close to regular time. If he has a favorite pillow bring that. Bring some snacks and water bottles. An isolated lunch box will hold what you need. Other than that nothing just have fun.

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answers from Miami on

My children are world travelers also - air, train and car. Honestly, car is the easiest of all - anything you forget, you can stop and buy!

I never do a carry all bag as you suggest. We use a Graco - traditional stroller in the U.S. In the bottom, we put a "6 pack" size collapsible cooler with drinks (small water bottles and juice drinks - milk if we have a little baby), a bag with jackets and a diaper bag. We use the sling bag we got from Similac when my last baby was born as diaper bag.

If your son still naps, be prepared that he may just drop at some point. I disagree, we took a stroller for my 5 year old at Disney - too much walking packed into one day so definitely take a stroller if your 4 year old will go in it. It is possible the Science Center won't allow stroller in and make you check it - so double check with them. The aquarium at National Harbor in Baltimore doesn't allow strollers.

For car trips, a trip to the Dollar Store is a good idea- wrap a few things that you can pull out a "surprise present" if the going gets tough. Also, consider a trip to Pikes Place Fish Market - kids love it!

Have fun! Assume he will do well and he will.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Toddler travel can be hard. However, travel with a school age kid is much much different.

Okay, my pet peeve. A toddler is a child that is just learning to walk and therefore toddles around falling down a lot. They don't have very many verbal skills, wear diapers, take a nap or two daily, have to have help eating and doing most activities.

Some developmental pages say a toddler is a child from age 12 months up to about 24 months and a few others say that it's a few months older like up to age 2 1/2.

A 4 year old child is a pre-school child at the very least. Your kiddo is old enough to be in school, either pre-K now or this fall if they're a young 4. Their developmental stage is much much much different than a toddler.

School age kids like yours are a lot of fun on trips. They can do things for themselves. Like put a movie in a portable DVD player, play hand held electronic games, they can color, read a book, play with a few toys in their lap, and more. Super independent.

They can keep super busy and be totally oblivious of sitting in a vehicle and traveling. They can even be super interested in the landscape and things being passed by too.

Plan on stopping at least every 2 hours for a potty break. You'll also do well to let kiddo run amok if they want to for a few minutes while stopped. Stopping and moving around keeps everyone from feeling sore and stiff when they finally stop for the day. And of course take a couple of changes of clothes in case of accidents or spills.

As for taking stuff in the stroller just plop a few water bottles in the bottom and put your purse and stuff on top of them. If you want to keep them cold put some frozen blue cube things in a fold up soft cooler bags. You could put them in the freezer a couple of hours before leaving the house too. They'll freeze but not solid.

School age kids are a total blast to travel with. They are sponges filling up constantly with stuff going on around them.

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answers from Phoenix on

Lots of great suggestions! I would just add, we have a bag that we absolutely love- it is a backpack, but the bottom part is a small, soft-sided cooler. The cooler zips separately from the backpack part, so it keeps the drinks and snacks separate from everything else. The top part is big enough for a change of clothes, my purse, etc, but the whole thing is the size of a backpack.
It's like this:

Sounds like fun, you will all have a great time!!

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