5 downsides of traveling with a preschooler & how to make it easier

What is it like traveling with a headstrong 4 year old? I could write this post with only a few sentences, or even just a single word. Hard. Traveling with a headstrong 4 year old is hard. I always tend to talk about the easier moments of traveling; the ones where we’re at the hotel and Daisy’s having fun swimming in the pool. Or the moments we watch the sunset at the beach. But trust me, it’s not as though we step onto foreign turf and suddenly Daisy is a complete angel. It’s not all fun and games, in fact it’s sometimes incredibly hard work. There have been times where she has well and truly tested our patience. Here are five of the hardest things about traveling with a preschooler – 5 thing that you may not have even considered!

1. Getting them to walk through the security scanner/gate

So, as if security isn’t stressful enough, Daisy sometimes likes to make it that little bit more challenging. We don’t take cabin luggage, only hand luggage, and so this part of the journey always feels longer than any other part. Sometimes Daisy will happily walk through the security scanner, sometimes – not so much. There have been times where it’s taken longer than it should have taken, because Daisy doesn’t want to walk through by herself. or with me. or with Andrew. or at all. So tantrums at the security gate are usually an unnecessary part of our routine.

How to avoid: We put things that we know will need to be put into a tray, into just one single hand luggage bag. We keep it at the top so that we can easily access them without rummaging through all bags. We turn walking through the scanner into a game. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We might pretend to have a race; see who can get to the other side first. 

2. Can we have a break? No?

There is no break. Even when they are sleeping (in the middle of your double bed), there is still no differentiation between their time and yours. Usually when children talk to much, it’s okay because they can go to preschool or nursery. Or nan can take over. But when you’re on holiday, there really is no such thing as a break. You are either asking them to stop talking for a moment, or you’re whispering around them whilst they sleep in the evening. But they won’t sleep – not until about 10pm and by then you are probably pretty tired yourselves.

How to avoid: Even though Daisy doesn’t nap at home, she tends to always nap whilst we are on holiday.  We lay the buggy back and get her comfortable, then after walking around a little she will eventually fall asleep. It may only be for an hour, but it’s an hour we well and truly need. We’ll go to a coffee shop or sit and watch the world go by. 

3. “But I really need a drink RIGHT NOW”

We’ve made this mistake twice. The mistake where we don’t take anything for Daisy to drink onto the aeroplane with us. Instead, we wait for the drinks trolley to come round. What can you do when you have a four year old demanding that they are “SO SO SO THIRSTY” whilst the plane is about to take off and you have no liquids to give them? Pretty much nothing. We also had an incident coming back from Prague, after heading to our gate and waiting to board the plane, Daisy needed a tissue. Did we have one? No. Did the lady on the check in desk have one? No. Were there toilets? No. Could we find the baby wipes? No. Did anyone offer us a tissue? No. I mean… you can see where this is going.

How to avoid: Anything you think your child may need – take with you and have it somewhere you can easily find it. Think of snacks, drinks, tissues, their favourite toy. Traveling with children is all about planning ahead. 

4. The dreaded sickness bug

Most people dread their children being ill when at home. I hate the thought of Daisy being ill, especially with a sick bug. Sometimes these things have a way of finding you when you least expect it – such as when traveling. We are lucky enough to have not experienced a sickness bug whilst abroad (touch wood!), but we have experienced other illnesses. I suffer with severe anxiety, and when traveling it tends to disappear – apart from the odd occasion when Daisy is unwell. Daisy once hit her head on a wet room floor, she went down with a huge bang and I really thought she had cracked her head open. She didn’t. But I pretty much sat up all night making sure she was okay, whilst watching her sleep.

We also had an incident in Lisbon. Daisy woke up with a raging temperature and guess who forgot any medication? Moi. The shops were closed and Andrew was impossible to wake up. (I did eventually wake him and he calmed me down!). After a lot of googling that night, I discovered that a temperature isn’t always a bad thing, and doesn’t necessarily need to be bought down.

How to avoid: Bring a mini first aid kit with you and pack any medicine that you think you may need. Also make sure you have good travel insurance. 

5. The oh so obvious; over-tired tantrums

We’ve only ever had one holiday where Daisy had zero tantrums. She wasn’t walking at this stage and I’m not sure how we managed it. It was in Rome – maybe another reason why it’s one of my favourite cities. Children are only little (obviously) and don’t really understand what’s going on when traveling. They are bound to get over tired, over sensitive and throw a little meltdown or five. I don’t get as embarrassed about them whilst away, mostly because nobody knows me and I know I won’t see any of the onlookers again. We had a major meltdown when arriving in Prague – Daisy wanted to sit in a borrowed buggy after the lady had told us it couldn’t come any further. It was probably one of her worst tantrums, but we just picked her up (as best as we could) and carried on. I knew she was just tired.

How to avoid: Think of trigger and attempt to avoid them if you can. As an example, at the moment Daisy thinks that every time we go to a supermarket she gets to pick a toy. If I’m not ready for a major meltdown, then I don’t take her. 

Traveling with children is hard. It’s hard but it’s incredibly rewarding. There is nothing I love more than seeing Daisy’s face light up when she’s in another country. I love seeing her come out of her shell and talk to people she has never met, talk to other children that don’t speak a word of English. Yes, there are plenty of downsides to traveling with a preschooler, especially as she starts full time school soon (I’m not sure how we’re going to cross that bride, but we’ll cross it when we get there!). But it’s all worth it in the end.

Have you had any major travel fails whilst traveling with your children? I’d love to know. Let me know!

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