There are a few things that keep me up at night: My child’s safety and well-being, last night’s spicy dinner and any upcoming travel. For a person who’s life has been one of travel and adventure, I never expected to wake up in cold sweats dreading an upcoming trip.

Welcome to traveling with a spirited toddler.

In my earlier years, I remember passing judgement on the family traveling with the crying kid and thinking, “That won’t be me.” I arrogantly thought that my perfectly behaved child would simply meld into my adventurous life and that we would travel the world in a seamless, symbiotic state. Who was I kidding? Karma has kicked me in the butt. My kid doesn’t easily travel, and we are suddenly the family with a screaming kid, begging to run the aisles of the airplane. Oh, the joy.

Joking aside, I have found that there are a few ways to ease the travel stress:

  •  Plan your travel around your child’s happier hours. It doesn’t help anyone to travel with an unrested, tired child.
  • Be prepared for any mishaps. (This includes extra clothes for both you and your child and even your travel companion. Yes, this really happened.)
  • Bring something that easily comforts your child, like his or her favorite blanket or “lovie.”
  • Bring snacks!
  • Try to re-create their normal routine from home, whether it be usual nap times, familiar bedding, a sound machine or even sleeping arrangements. This will help ease the confusion of a new setting.

Last and definitely most important: Have realistic expectations about your child’s experience as well as your own. It’s easy to stress about it, and your child will sense this. The more relaxed and willing you are to roll with the unexpected, the better it will be for everyone.

Happy travels!

(I promise to buy you a drink if you are on our flight.)


Caroline Lalive Carmichael moved to Steamboat with her family in 1995 and joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. After one season, Caroline was named to the U.S. Ski Team and competed for 13 years, attending two Olympics. After retiring in 2009, she returned to Steamboat as a coach. She and fellow Olympian Nelson Carmichael were married in 2012 and welcomed their daughter, Freya, in 2015.