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Travel with a potty training toddler
The transition from diapers to underwear can be daunting for you and your child. When you’re in the process of potty training your toddler you may feel like staying at home for the rest of your life! I hear ya, Mama! I’ve been there. But at some point you’ll want to get out and about to start traveling with a potty training toddler. Don’t worry, I’m going to show you how to tackle public bathrooms and toilets with your toddler.
Eventually you’ll go from your first trip out of the house to your first road trip or flight with your potty-trainee. Here’s our top tips with everything you need to know about how to travel with a potty training toddler.
Use the Table of Contents below to quickly skip to any section of this post.
Potty training toddler on the go
Before taking a trip make sure you and your toddler are comfortable with potty training on the go. No one likes to use a public restroom. But it is necessary if you want to leave the house with your child.
1. Start local
Plan your first few outings somewhere local. A short drive to the grocery store or a local park or the library. Choose somewhere close with easy access to a bathroom where it won’t matter if your child has an accident.
2. Bring changes of clothes and wipes
Pack a change of clothes, and then another! You’ll never regret having those extra pairs of pants and underwear. And wipes always come in handy. Click to see our list of what to pack when traveling with a potty training toddler.
3. Consider bringing disposable toilet seat covers and a wet bag
The disposable seat cover will help protect against germs and is flush-able. You may be carrying around some soiled pants and underwear. Bring a wet bag you can store them in until you get back to do laundry.
4. Go potty before you leave the house
Once you’re completely ready to go out make one last trip to the bathroom before you leave. Dress your child in elastic pants or a dress/skirt that can be removed easily to go potty. Do not wear complicated clothing that’s hard for your child to remove when out in public.
5. Tackle public restrooms
Once you arrive at your destination, head straight to the bathroom. Go in the stall with your kid. Initially you will need to hold your child on the toilet so they don’t fall in. Take the opportunity to go potty when your toddler is in the stall with you, and give them a job to do. This will prevent them from opening the door and running out! My two favorites are the important job of holding my phone or counting the screws on the wall.
6. Be aware of auto-flush toilets
Do you struggle to hold your hand over the sensor and keep your child balanced on the toilet? Carry a small pad of sticky notes. Place one over the ‘magic eye’ before you put anything or anyone near the seat. In a pinch, you can use a Band-Aid or moist toilet paper. The auto-flush can be terrifying to a toddler. Heck, it is scary to anyone who isn’t expecting it.
7. Set a timer
It’s easy to become distracted and forget to ask your little one if they need to go potty. Setting a timer for 30-60 minutes will help remind you both that it’s time to visit to the bathroom. Your child may resist another potty break. Using the timer shifts it from being “Mommy is making me go potty”, to “the timer says I need to go potty”. My daughter loves this CUCUBIT potty training watch.
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How to start traveling with a potty training toddler
Once you and your toddler are comfortable with using public restrooms around town. Then it is time to start thinking about your first road trip or flight while potty training. Do not let potty training stand in the way of taking whatever trip you want with your family. But it is worth mentioning that some vacation destinations are more suitable, and less stressful, for a new potty trainee.
Choose a destination where you have easy access to bathrooms with short lines. For example: the beach, a resort, national park, or a theme park with family facilities. That trip to Rome and standing in long lines at the Vatican should wait until the potty training days have passed.
Before you travel with a potty training toddler let your child know what to expect in the way of aircraft lavatories, rest areas, or campground facilities. Introduce any new equipment such as a travel potty or seat in the weeks before you leave home.
Bring a travel-friendly potty or seat
A travel potty or seat is usually a plastic support to help your toddler to stop using diapers and to start using the toilet. There are two main types of baby travel potty and seat. One is a seating support and the other actually works as a toilet, having a place to collect your toddler’s pee and poo.
All toddlers are different and setting up your toddler for success in potty training is the main goal. If a training potty seat will help with this transition then it’s worth the purchase.
Here’s our favorite travel potty seat options:
- Baby Bjorn Smart Potty is compact, simple and easy to clean.
- OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty for Travel which is useful for any on-the-go emergencies. It’s small enough to be easily transported, fits onto most toilets and it comes with disposable bags, absorption pads and a travel bag.
- Jool Baby Folding Travel Potty Seat which is great for on-the-go and includes a handy travel bag which makes it easy to pop into a bag and keep close. It can be used by parents who don’t want their little ones sitting directly on public toilets, so helps prevent the spread of germs.
If you are limited on space in your luggage you can consider renting a training potty or child-size seat at your destination.
Your goal is the big toilet
Ultimately, the goal is to work on getting your toddler used to using big toilets. At home they may prefer their potty seat but think of all the times they will need to go. At a restaurant, on a plane, on a train, at the mall, in a hotel etc. It will make your life much easier if they can use a regular toilet.
I speak from experience, after some practice, a 3 year old is perfectly capable of going potty on a regular toilet and holding themselves up. My 3 year old daughter now tells me “Mummy, I do it myself” and she doesn’t want any help.
Flying with a Potty Training Toddler
Once your toddler has conquered how to go potty on-the-go then you’re ready to take a flight. Flying with a potty training toddler won’t be too difficult as you are close to a bathroom in the airport and on the airplane. And check out our post about surviving jet lag with your toddler.
Having immediate access to the bathroom while flying is not always possible. Here are things to consider when flying with a potty training toddler:
- Take your toddler to the bathroom when you get to the airport (right before security) and again before boarding. Even if your little one says they don’t need to go, insist they try. Otherwise once you’re stuck in a long line or the seat-belt sign is on they will decide they need to go potty.
- Use a pull-up for the flight. Have that conversation with your child about why it’s needed. You don’t know how long you will sit on the runway, or when the seat-belt sign will go out. If your child is resistant to the pull up then put it on over their underwear as a safety precaution.
- Take your toddler to the toilet as soon as the seat-belt light goes out.
- Pack the essentials in your carry-on luggage. These include a wet bag for wet clothes (in case of an accident), multiple pairs of extra pants and underwear, plenty of wipes and extra pull ups.
Road Trip with a Potty Training Toddler
Most of the tips above still apply. Here are some additions for car rides and simplifying road trips with a toddler who is newly potty trained.
- Plan regular scheduled breaks. It is always best to stop before your toddler screams that they need to go potty.
- Have an idea of where you are headed and some places to stop for a bathroom in case of emergency.
- Consider using a pull-up (even over underwear). This is especially important if your toddler will fall asleep in the car seat.
- Use a waterproof seat liner to protect your car seat. Britax has the Seat Saver Waterproof Liner that is approved for use with Britax seats only. We love our Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat for our toddler, but there is nothing worse than cleaning a soiled car seat on the side of the road. Spray your seat with fabric protector and waterproofing spray. Check out our Travel Car Clean-up Kit in our post about Motion Sickness in Kids. This will show you what cleaning supplies to take on your next road trip.
- Get your toddler used to doing their business outside. There will be a time when your little one has to go ‘right now’ and there is no option but to pull onto the side of the highway and help your toddler to commune with nature.
- If you haven’t been successful getting your toddler to use regular toilets or go outside, then bring along a travel potty when you have your own car.
- Stay in a vacation rental with access to laundry; at this stage you’ll be glad you did!
- Be prepared for regression. Changes in schedule and new environments make it challenging for your little one to stay dry. It’s okay if they have accidents, but be prepared for this. Get back on track with a potty schedule as soon as you get home.
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Here’s our list of items for your potty training travel kit to take every time you leave the house, and some extra items to pack in your suitcase for vacation. If you’re flying remember to keep items in your carry on.
- Two pairs of extra pants and underwear, and more depending on the length of your outing. Keep these in a gallon ziplock bag or a waterproof wet dry bag so you have somewhere to put soiled clothing.
- Disposable toilet seat covers and wipes.
- A portable travel potty or a folding travel potty seat if your child won’t use a regular toilet.
- Pull ups. In case you use the last pair of clean underwear and need something for your toddler to wear until you get back to your accommodation.
- Laundry detergent to wash underwear or pants in a hotel sink.
- Mattress cover if your child is night trained. Check that your Airbnb has a mattress cover in case of nighttime accidents.
- Seat Saver Waterproof Liner for your car seat.
- Travel Car Clean-up Kit in case of an accident in the car.
Traveling with a potty training toddler takes effort from you and your little one. Being prepared with the items you need, and using the approach discussed above, will help remove the stress and make the journey smoother. Every child is different and some children catch on quicker than others. Be patient and your child will get there eventually.
We would love to hear your tips for traveling with a potty training toddler. Please post a comment to share what you’ve learned on this parenting adventure.
We hope this post will bring you more peace on your family travels. And remember, Let’s BE Family so you can enjoy the journey.