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Whether it is in the middle of an unexpected mid-air meltdown, or when you get to a hotel with an exhausted toddler only to find that your room won’t be ready for hours, or when your child is covered absolutely head to toe in a diaper ‘blowout’ in the middle of Manhattan where no store has a public bathroom and it is 35 degrees outside, or when you reach the end of your own metaphorical rope and just wish you were back at home with your crew, every traveling parent with little kids will ask this very same question at some point…when does it get easier?
Unlike most loaded questions in the travel world that can best be answered with a frustrating, ‘it depends’, this big question has an actual answer.
When does traveling with a kid get easier?
It gets easier when your child is three and potty trained. Life in general gets easier when your youngest child is three and potty trained. If you narrow the conversation to travel, once those two milestones are unlocked, your travels will get easier in almost every imaginable way. By the time most kids are about three years old and toilet trained you can talk with them, reason with them, bribe them, entertain them, explain what happens next, push through some amount of tiredness, and then enjoy practical benefits of having a toilet trained kid.
I don’t know if I wrote an article on that topic when my first daughter unlocked those all-important ‘three and potty trained’ milestones, but I have written it in my head a million times. Being three and potty trained is such a line of demarcation in a family’s life. My second daughter turns three-years-old next month, but I thought that we would not achieve the second part of the “three and potty trained” moniker for goodness knows how much longer. We just weren’t even close, which was okay.
However, that reality meant that she was going to be old enough for many travel experiences and kid’s clubs, but excluded from admission because she wasn’t ready to use a potty. To give just one of an endless list of examples, on the Disney Cruise Line, those who are three years old and up can visit the Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Lab for no additional charge. However, you must be ‘fully toiled trained‘ or you can’t stay without a parent. You will find similar language when looking at almost any kid’s club, ski school, or similar activity. The minimum age for these sort of activities may go as low as three, but only if that crucial potty trained caveat is also met.
In truth, I thought we were on the verge of having to delay some penciled in travel plans because our soon-to-be-three-year-old just wasn’t ready to be out of diapers. Again, this was not a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but it was something we were going to need to adjust for in the short term.
Crossing over into the world of three and potty trained
But then, out of the blue, she was ready. She went from never successfully using the potty once in her short life to only having one accident over a span of three days like it was no big deal. This exactly mirrors the pattern of how she has hit every milestone, so I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised. You start to worry it will ‘never happen’, and then overnight it is over and done with like she’s an old pro.
We will celebrate her third birthday at Disney World next month a day before she actually turns three, so that she is still ‘free’. After that, we’ve entered all new traveling territory. Maybe the days of packing a bag that is 95% comprised of diapers and wipes are behind us. It all happened so fast that it’s still setting in that maybe, just maybe, our youngest child is now a full-fledged ‘big girl’ and our traveling lives are about to change for the better.
When does traveling with kids get easier? It gets so much easier your youngest kid is three and potty trained, and I absolutely cannot believe we are almost there.
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