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Potty training is a rite of passage for all families with toddlers, but the process can be full of hiccups, pitfalls, and setbacks. When you throw travel into the mix, things get even harder. Have you ever been on an airplane where the pilot just won’t turn off that seatbelt sign while your toddler desperately does the potty dance? Then you know what I mean!
As a parent who travels frequently and has one older child and one 2.5 year old in the early stages of training, I’ve had my fair share of travel successes and challenges with potty training. Here’s what you need to know — and how you need to pack — for potty training success during travel.
1. Don’t start training right before a big trip.
Before you head out on the open road or board a plane with your toddler, you want to make sure he or she has had plenty of time to master the basics back home. Otherwise, you’re just asking for a regression and a longer period of time until your little one is fully trained. Block off some time away from your busy travel schedule and get to (potty-training) work.
So, how long is long enough? Well, that depends. I personally planned for at least a month with my daughter before taking her on a plane after having her trained back home. We did smaller outings to the zoo or movies as a trial run. My son is still going to be training during the upcoming summer travel season, so I may have to be a bit more flexible. Luckily we’ll likely be taking only road trips in the early summer months, which are a bit easier than airplane travel in my opinion.
2. Know your child’s personality.
Children respond differently to new situations and change, and the same goes for potty training. It’s important to watch where your child struggles and what works back home so you can envision how that translates on the road. My kids are very different personality-wise and that makes a difference in how we address potty training during travel. My now 6 year old daughter was quick to learn and responded to rewards (namely of the chocolate variety), but my 2.5 year old is much more hesitant to embrace change. I already know it is going to take him longer to learn so the travel challenges will likely continue for a longer period of time.
Pull-Ups® Learning Designs® has devised a cute system detailing kids’ potty training personalities to help you identify where you child might struggle and where he or she can best succeed. (Find out which type potty training character your child is at this link.) Plus, they’ve included downloadable free activities for each personality type to get you on the right track with training.
3. Prepare for new and strange bathrooms.
One of the biggest fears that potty training kids have is of the unfamiliar. Chances are that your child will spend a lot of time at home using familiar bathrooms when first training. Public restrooms are different. The toilet shape can be awkward for young kids and they can often be very loud. Airplane bathrooms are the worst! They are cramped and the lavatory flushing mechanism is so violent it even scares me sometimes.
Bottom line: don’t let your child’s first time using a public potty be in an airplane or rest stop bathroom. Have plenty of test runs in public bathrooms like movie theaters or restaurants before you take a vacation. Show your kids how things can be different and warn them about loud noises to prepare them for the unexpected.
When you are traveling, look for bathrooms that might be more convenient or less frightening. Many airports, for example, offer family restrooms where I’ve been able to take both kids in with me together. They are equipped with changing tables and much more space and sometimes even a lower toilet that a smaller child can use.
4. Pack Right!
If you are traveling with a newly potty trained child, packing the right items is critical. Even after your child has been trained for awhile, accidents can happen because of unexpected circumstances that road trips or plane flights can bring. Be prepared!
Here’s what needs to be in your travel diaper bag if you have a toddler or preschooler who has started training:
Pull-Ups training pants: Must-have to prevent accidents when you aren’t able to take a potty break on a moment’s notice, like when you are stuck in road trip traffic or taxiing on a plane. (Bonus that Pull-Ups come with Pixar’s Cars Lightning McQueen or Disney Doc McStuffins characters on them for all those Disney trips my family takes! The latest line of Pull-Ups have 10% more coverage, a softer fit, and are more absorbent than previous Pull-Ups training pants.)
- Regular undies: For when you are more confident of accident prevention.
- Change of clothes (or two): In case accidents happen. You may also want a change of clothes for you too.
- Small towel: To wipe up messes or put in a wet seat until you can do a better cleaning job.
- Zip-top bags: To store wet clothes or even used Pull-Ups if a trash can isn’t available.
- Rewards: If you have a rewards system at home, bring it on the road to prevent setbacks and encourage your child.
- Wipes: Always have something to sanitize dirty public toilets and clean up afterwards.
- Travel potty (road trips): There are several companies that make travel potties that you can take with you in the car if you can’t get to a rest stop in time. These are child-sized and prevent the fear factor of public restrooms as well.
- Compact potty seat (airplanes): There are also potty seats so small that they fold up into next to nothing. Pack them in your carry on and use on top of regular public restroom toilets.
Thanks to Huggies Pull-Ups® Learning Designs® for sponsoring this post! Learn more about Pull-Ups available at Walmart.
For more toddler travel tips, don’t miss this Pinterest board focusing exclusively on travel with toddlers.
Follow Leslie @ Trips With Tykes’s board Travel with Toddlers on Pinterest.