Vacationing With an 18-Month Old: A Mom’s Guide

As a mom who recently embarked on a vacation with my 18-month-old, I can attest that planning a trip with a toddler requires careful consideration and preparation. While it may seem daunting at first, with the right approach, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both you and your little one.

We spent a week in Greece, and it took us 10 hours to get there (and 10 to get back) by car. It was by far the longest journey the little one’s had up until now, so I knew it was going to be challenging.

But thanks to good preparation, it turned out to be such a good and relaxing vacation!

Based on my experience, here are some key insights into what’s important when going on a vacation with an 18-month-old.

What to Pack

Packing for a vacation with a toddler is a bit like preparing for a military operation. Here are some toddler essentials you shouldn’t leave behind:

  1. Baby Gear: Your stroller, car seat, and a portable crib or playpen are crucial. Make sure they are in good condition and meet safety standards.
  2. Clothing: Pack extra outfits for your child, including layers for varying weather conditions. Don’t forget hats, swimsuits, and comfortable shoes (both indoor and outdoor).
  3. Diapers and Supplies: Stock up on diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream. Bring a changing pad for on-the-go diaper changes. This saved us during our trip, as he ended up peeing through his diaper twice — luckily, we had him sitting on a changing pad that managed to soak it in.
  4. Feeding Supplies: If your child is not fully on solid foods, bring enough formula or breast milk and bottles. If they’re eating solids, pack baby food, snacks, and utensils, and create a plan of where you’re stopping (for example, we relied on gas stations for that a lot).
  5. Medications and First Aid: Carry any necessary medications, as well as a basic first-aid kit tailored to your child’s needs. We stocked up on probiotics and painkillers/fever meds first and foremost.
  6. Entertainment: Bring their favorite toys, books, and electronic devices (with headphones) for entertainment during travel and downtime.
  7. Travel Documents: Don’t forget passports, identification, and any necessary travel documents for your child.

What to Prepare For

When traveling with an 18-month-old, expect the unexpected. Here are some things to prepare for:

  1. Changes in Routine: Travel can disrupt your child’s daily routine. Try to maintain some consistency in meal and nap times to minimize meltdowns.
  2. Jet Lag: If crossing time zones, be prepared for jet lag. Gradually adjust your child’s schedule before the trip to ease the transition.
  3. Safety Concerns: Childproof your accommodation as much as possible, especially if you’re staying in a vacation rental or hotel room. Bring outlet covers and cabinet locks if needed.
  4. Health Considerations: Be aware of potential health issues, like motion sickness or allergies, and have appropriate remedies on hand.

What to Be Ready For

Your vacation with an 18-month-old may not be all smooth sailing, but being prepared for challenges can make a big difference:

  1. Patience: Be patient with your child, yourself, and fellow travelers. Toddler tantrums happen, and they’re part of the journey.
  2. Flexibility: Be willing to adjust your plans to accommodate your child’s needs. It’s okay to skip some activities if your child is tired or not feeling well. While we love being on the beach, we soon found out our son gets bored and wants to leave after just about two hours, so we changed our planned activities around him.
  3. Rest Breaks: Plan frequent breaks during long journeys to let your toddler stretch their legs and burn off some energy.

How to Help Them Adapt

Adapting to a new environment can be a bit overwhelming for a toddler. Here’s how to ease their transition:

  1. Familiar Items: Bring along some of their favorite comfort items, such as a stuffed animal or blanket, to create a sense of security. This was at the top of our to-do list!
  2. Explore Together: Encourage your child to explore their new surroundings with you. Point out interesting things and engage their curiosity.
  3. Routine Consistency: Stick to some familiar routines, like bedtime stories or songs, to help your child feel more at ease.
  4. Local Experiences: Incorporate local experiences that are kid-friendly, like visits to parks, zoos, or child-oriented museums. This can make your child more excited about the new environment. For example, we had a wonderful park next to our apartment and we made sure to visit it!

Vacationing with an 18-month-old can be both challenging and incredibly rewarding. With careful planning, flexibility, and patience, you can create lasting memories and give your child the opportunity to explore and learn about the world from a young age.

So, pack your bags, embark on your adventure, and savor every moment of this special journey with your little one.


A 28-year-old married mom, trying to have it all. I have a full-time job I enjoy, a home I’m in love with, and plenty of hobbies I try my best to have the time for. A psychologist by vocation, with the goal of helping young women live their best lives.

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