Traveling with a toddler can be challenging for a LOT of different reasons, but I’m here to help you take the guesswork out of two major sticking points: healthy snacks and screen-free entertainment ideas.
No judgment or shame if you have to bust out a screen. You gotta do what you gotta do sometimes… but I know for me personally, I like to try screen-free ideas first. It definitely helps occupy time!
Let’s start with the food. Here’s what I’m looking for when it comes to toddler travel snacks:
Easy – The snack has to travel well and not take me a ton of time to prepare…I’m too busy packing and prepping everything else!
Healthy – This might be obvious, but I don’t want my toddler indulging on candy, cookies, or nutritionally-devoid crackers the whole trip. That’s not setting any of us up for vacation success!
Tasty – No matter how healthy or easy, if my toddler won’t eat it, it doesn’t matter that I pack it! So I choose things that are good for his (and my!) body, but that I know we’ll all love.
Skout bars (use code TAYLORDUKES) – If y’all have been following me for any length of time, then you KNOW my love for these bars. My son literally has one every day. Simple and supportive ingredients, including protein. Taste is amazing. They are the perfect size and truly a win for everyone.
PaleoValley grassfed beef sticks (use code TAYLORDUKES) – Five flavors and a punch of protein. These are a quick but satisfying snack. And so easy to throw in a purse or a diaper bag! My personal faves are the summer sausage and jalapeno sticks.
Serenity kid pouches (use code TAYLOR15) – Spare your child the sugar bomb that is inside most kid food pouches. Serenity’s pouches will keep your child balanced with their addition of healthy fats, veggies, and clean proteins.
Boulder Canyon potato chips or Barnana Organic plantain chips – Who doesn’t love a little crunch? You can treat your child to chips without the inflammatory, processed vegetable oils. Opt for either of these instead, which are cooked in avocado oil!
Epic bars or Epic pork rinds – The bars are beef jerky in bar form! All different kinds of flavors and clean protein choices. The pork rinds are savory, crunchy, and satisfying. Epic doesn’t compromise on ingredients, and I bet your toddler will love them just as much as you!
Simple Mills crackers – Every kid loves crackers. Mine does too! Instead of saying “no,” I’m all about finding a healthier alternative. Simple Mills crackers are exactly that.
Chopped carrots and celery with individual guacamole or hummus cups – Your kid will love dipping his or her veggies. Throw all of it in a Stasher bag and you’ll be good to go.
Bare organic baked apple chips – These are a sweet treat that doesn’t compromise with artificial or processed ingredients like most other child-marketed sweets.
Mixed nuts (add some Hu Kitchen gems to make your own trail mix!) – Again, throw them in a Stasher bag and you’ve got a healthy snack in a matter of seconds. But read your labels! Most nuts are roasted in processed unhealthy vegetable, soybean, or peanut oils. Steer clear of those!
On a final snack note. A super fun idea is to create a snack “tray” where you offer your child a little variety of different snacks. You can prep this in a matter of minutes beforehand using an Austin Baby Co. silicone bento box (comes with a lid!). Your kid will love the novelty and you’ll love how easy it is to throw together! Plus, it is the perfect way to kill some time on a plane.
On to entertainment! I’m not above screens, and no judgment on you if you use them! Us mamas have to make it however we can. I’ve just found that my son is happier when he hasn’t been vegging out in front of a screen. And I want to be a resource for you if you’re looking for non-screen options!
Montessori wooden threading toys – These are durable, adorable, and can keep your child occupied for a long time. Bonus, they get to work on hand motor skills without even realizing it!
Magnetic Drawing Board – This is simple to use and small enough to pack in a purse or diaper bag. Also a great toy for when you’re waiting at a restaurant!
Colorful LCD Writing Tablet – This allows your child to draw as much as they could possibly want without having to pack a million different markers and papers.
Color Wonder Mess-Free Coloring Books – I love these mess-free coloring books that magically turn a water-filled marker into color once it hits the page.
Magnetic Play Boards – There are a lot of different scenes to choose from, but your child will enjoy moving his or her trucks, farm animals, or dollhouse magnets to wherever they desire!
I Spy – Use I Spy Travel cards or make your own up! In a pinch, you don’t need anything at all for this one. Simply look out the window and find something interesting. Distract your child with the classic, “I spy a…”
Books – Sometimes the oldies are the goodies. Good old-fashioned books are hard to beat. Consider buying a fun new book to break open on the trip. It might be about travel. It might include your child’s favorite character. Or it might be about the destination you’re headed to – the beach, the mountains, or grandma’s house.
Dollar Store Discovery Bag – Go to the dollar store and buy a small brown paper bag to open every hour or half-hour of the trip. Fill each one with different stickers, figurines, books, small toys, scribble pads, or whatever else you find there!
Wooden Tracing Boards – These are great for travel or for home. They provide an easy way to introduce shapes, letters, and numbers. And they let your child try their hand at “writing” them.
One thing I can’t stress enough when traveling with a toddler is perspective. It’s easy to have high hopes of long travel being completely seamless and stress-free. That isn’t always the case. It’s also not a great idea to go into a trip predicting how terrible it’ll be to travel with a toddler.
One meltdown doesn’t have to ruin the whole car ride. And letting your child choose food or dessert that isn’t the top health option doesn’t mean you’ve thrown in the towel on their health for the duration of the vacation.
Set yourself up for success by mostly choosing to feed your child’s body and mind with things that are nourishing. Know that you’ll make amazing memories, but also that there might be a couple of melt-downs or tough moments to work through.
In the end, it’s always worth it. Happy, healthy travels!
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