Family Style || Traveling With A Toddler

As I’ve mentioned several times this week, we headed up to the Solvang/Los Olivos area this past weekend…. it’s a place we visit several times a year, yet, we’ve been going at this same time for the past several years (when Harper was just a little one…). And while traveling with a toddler isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s for sure doable if you modify your expectations and go in with a game plan…. and it really can be a wonderful time had by all. So, today, TJ and I decided to share a few tips and tricks we’ve gleaned along the way…. just in case you’re looking to make that trek with your little tike(s)……

1. Look At The Room: Before traveling as parents, TJ and I never really examined the layout of a room…. I mean, we literally study the floor plan and square footage now. Harper goes down at 7pm… and naps for about 2 hours in the afternoon… so being hotel bound during those hours makes it critical that the room is family friendly. When possible (on the pocketbook) we book a large suite, that way, Harper can be in one area sleeping, and we can have our evening too. If not, we make sure there is an outdoor sitting area (patio or balcony), or start her off in the bathroom (if it’s large enough… and yes, we walk out to the lobby restroom if we need to… you gotta do what you gotta do….) and move her out when we go to bed.

2. Plan You Day: We don’t “wing” a day anymore. That’s typically a recipe for disaster. So, we take some time in the morning to loosely lay out what the day will look like (I use the term loosely since there are so many unpredictable variables with a toddler…). If we’re somewhere more “adult” oriented, like last weekend’s wine tasting adventures, we try to incorporate a fun “kid” friendly activity in the morning (i.e. Ostrich Land USA… okay, maybe that was for me too….) and then tasting spots that are open and allow her space to run around.

3. Dress Accordingly: I have to laugh here… our suitcases look slightly different now than they did several years ago… but we’re not mad about it. Since we have an extra traveler adding to the luggage load, one of us has to pack smarter (…. and can you guess who that has to be??….). While I still toss in loads of unnecessary things,  TJ has become much more practical in his packing. He opts for pieces that transition well between day and night, toddler activity to adult activity, and cold to warm. It makes him pretty much up for anything. For this past trip, he packed this slim fitting puffer vest which was perfect for walking to breakfast and coffee in the morning (when temps were in the 40’s)… he layered it over this lightweight stripe sweater which was the perfect solo piece when the temps warmed. He always brings a pair of the Paige Transcend jeans with him everywhere he goes…. a work trip or vacation with the family.  The fit is so perfect that they look dressy enough for a business casual meeting, and casual enough for a day running around after little miss. Nordstrom has the widest selection of Paige jeans for men, with a variety of color options, making it easy to find the right pair for whatever occasion. A few other layering options he brought include this super soft fleece pullover, half zip sweater, slim fit henley (one of his favorite ways to layer), and this casual button-up shirt (this one comes with us everywhere). He also brings these joggers (styled here) for lounging in the room after little miss goes down.

4. Snacks + Activities: We are loaded up with both when we travel…. her favorite snacks, novel toys, and an iPad when all else fails…. it’s the only way we’ve survived the long drives and flights.

5. Extra Time: Everything takes more time with a toddler. Plan accordingly. We leave an extra 30 minutes for the airport, knowing we might have to change a diaper, deal with a melt down, and unload/check-in our abnormal amount of luggage. Also, we highly recommend wearing your little one in a carrier(it they’re still small enough) through security lines…. saves a lot of stress. Trust me.

6. Relax, Have Patience, Lower Expectations: It won’t be perfect. You’ll loose your patience with each other now and again (we do)…. and don’t expect things to be like they are/were when you travel/ed solo. If you can remember all three of those things, I promise you’ll have a good time…. you’ll eventually laugh at the stressful moments….all while making memories with your entire family.

(Outfit Details || TJ’s Pullover | TJ’s Vest | TJ’s Jeans | TJ’s Shoes | TJ’s Hat | My Pullover | My Jeans | My Shoes | My Bag | Sunglasses | Harper’s Jeans | Harper’s Jacket | Harper’s Shoes)

Thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. 


  1. Tara Rusiski says:

    Great post! We have a 16-mo old son and have travelled a few times over the past year. The last time was during the Christmas holiday to Florida to see family. Charlie was insane on the plane, but true to his personality, everyone fell in love with him anyway. I love your posts about your little one. Thanks for the tips…I especially like the one about room layout. Charlie goes to sleep at 7:15-7:30, so having a quiet area for him is paramount! Thank you!!

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Thank you Tara!! Those little toddlers can be such terrors, but they really bring so much joy! Over the years we’ve come to realize that extra space is so critical! Happy travels with your little family!!