Guide to Travel with a Toilet Training Child

We have finally reached a point in our parenthood journey we have been looking forward to. Our 2 year old little girl, who is our last baby out of three, has  finally toilet trained. So what a better time to share our guide to travel with a toilet training child! Eva started her toilet training journey at 16 months old, later regressing and then going through it completely at 26 months old. So it has been pretty much smooth sailing. However, toilet training our other two children wasn’t this straight forward. With Javi, for example, not long into toilet training, we embarked on a month long trip which is sure to send anyone out on a spin. So, in compiling all our travelling and toilet training experience, here I bring you our detailed experience of  travelling with a toilet training child. In addition, I’ll include practical tips in this guide to ensure your trip goes as smoothly and stress free as possible.

Common concerns

Some of the concerns you might have about travel with a toilet training child might involve how to plan a trip that includes a child that requires frequent or unexpected toilet trips while on the go. Firstly, let me assure you that there is no need to plan your trip any differently.  Some people would even prefer to plan out to the last second to make sure there is toilet availability wherever you go.  However this is not necessary and it’d be rather stressful.  And in some places, unachievable.

Secondly, most parents worry about how to handle public situations where your child might have an accident, such as a busy airport or a cramped flight. I have lots of tips in this article to cover these and make sure you are well prepared. However, the main thing to remember is that these situations, although for some stressful, are completely normal. And that many have been in your shoes before.  

Things to expect

Your child might have been doing extremely well toilet training at home with barely any misses. Additionally, you might even have their number twos down to a schedule. While travelling, however, the best thing you can do for yourself and your child, is to drop all expectations. In fact, if you do have an expectation about travel with a toilet training child is that there will most likely be misses or even a regression.  As adaptable as they can be, young children are more susceptible to changes in their routine and environment.  So simply being away from home is enough to affect the learning of a new skill such as using the toilet.

For instance, the food and drinks they consume while travelling could have an impact.  For example, while in Bali, our breakfast included fresh fruit juices as well as fresh fruit. Also while eating out at cafes and restaurants, we couldn’t resist ordering fresh fruit smoothies for our boys to go with their meals.  All of this extra fruit resulted in a lot more toilet visits than usual due to the extra water content in their diets. 

Additionally, being a child in a new environment means that there is a lot to take in. This can mean that they are more easily distracted and might miss or ignore any cues like needing to go to the toilet.

Manage your child’s expectations

Now that you know what to expect, you should also work towards helping your child’s expectations. The best advice I can give you is to make sure to talk to your child about everything that is happening in their surroundings. Most importantly, make it known that if accidents happen, that it is okay as you will be prepared with everything you need to help them. 

Before a trip

Tell them about your upcoming trip and introduce anything new you might be using such as a travel potty or pull ups, if they haven’t used these before. Practice how to use them and assure them its okay to use these on your trip as it will help keep them clean and comfortable. 

On a flight

Tell them about the flight and what to do if they need to use the toilet. If possible, take them to the toilet before they need it and show it to them and how it works.

When out and about

Explain as much as possible the importance of using the toilet before leaving the hotel, restaurant, attraction, etc. Ask them to tell you as soon as they feel the need to go so you can have as much time as possible to get them to a toilet. 

How to avoid accidents

Now that you know to expect them and have armed yourself with as much understanding and patience as possible, what can you do anything to prevent accidents?

Regular toilet breaks

Most children while on their early toilet training journey will require some prompting or reminder to go to the toilet on time.  This coupled with the unfamiliarity of their surroundings and they might avoid mentioning their need until it is too late. The best way to get around this is by taking them on toilet breaks at regular intervals during your day.  For example: take a toilet break before you leave the hotel room, find a toilet when you arrive at your next destination, take regular toilet breaks while you are out and about, before you enter a vehicle, and so on. This is not foolproof though, as depending on your child’s temperament this might simply not work. For example, even though Eva has been out of nappies for months now, a visit to a friend’s house is enough to cause an accident, even with a lot of safe guards in place.

Bring the potty with you

Another option is to carry a travel potty or portable potty with you. Travel potty’s can be very handy as you can simply set it up when needed. You can purchase absorbent bags, similar to puppy pads but much smaller, that you can dispose of when a bin becomes available. However, you will want to make sure you have your child gets used to the feel of this potty before you travel. Some travel potties can be used as portable potty seats for public rest rooms as well. This is super handy for those children that are not yet comfortable on a big toilet seat or don’t like being held by a parent when using one.

Bring a nappy or two for unpredictable situations

A challenge we faced was when we visited temples such as Prambanan in Jogyakarta, Indonesia. The toilets were located near the entrance and a very long walk away from the Temple. Javi was 3 at this time, and even then, that was a long time for him to hold it until we would make it back. In this instance, we offered him a nappy as an emergency.

Use pull ups  for flights

Planes are notorious for having tiny toilets and not being the easiest place to help a child use the toilet or help them change their clothes. They also restrict when the toilets can be accessed. So there is no shame in using something similar to underwear to get you through those times. You do have a couple of options here: disposable pull ups or  training pants/underwear. They both keep a child dry and comfortable in case of an accident. The latter will feel more like their underwear, however it will require washing at your destination.

When accidents occur

The best thing you can do for yourself and your child is to be prepared. So it is best to get in the habit to bring a bag or backpack with all the essentials whenever you are out exploring. These are some of the things you’ll need to travel with a toilet training child:

  • one or two spare sets of clothes and underwear, depending on the length of your outing
  • a wet bag, to put in soiled items in
  • wipes
  • travel potty
  • tissues or toilet paper

Most importantly, remember not to make a fuss!  When the miss occurs, just swiftly and calmly acknowledge what has happened and proceed to clean them up.  They are still little and learning so avoid getting upset or making a big deal out of it.  If your child seems upset over it, assure them that it is perfectly normal and that it is ok, that you will help them get cleaned up.

Other helpful tips

Pack extra sets of clothes

Make sure to pack a few extra sets of clothes for your child. How many will depend if you will have the time to wash and dry clothes at your destination.

Back ups

If your child fits a specific brand of nappies / diapers or pull ups, make sure to bring enough to last you the whole trip. This is because not all cities, or countries for that matter, have the same brands or level of accessibility of these items. We once run out of nappies on a trip to Japan and sourcing where to buy them from was not a fun experience!

Night training

Night nappies can be very helpful. However if your child has been sleeping without them with the odd accident here or there, you will need something to protect their sleeping surface. Disposable bed pads can be very useful. Alternatively, you can pack your own waterproof mattress protector. We have done this on multiple occasions now, as we simply feel better at night knowing they won’t be wetting the hotel’s bed. Plus, if they do end up wetting it, we can remove the protector and have a fresh bed ready to go without much hassle in the middle of the night. 

Don’t worry, be happy!

In conclusion, although it may seem daunting at first, travel with a toilet training child is more than possible. I truly hope my tips and experiences above help you feel more prepared and calm for your upcoming trip.

If you have any other questions about travel with a toilet training child, suggestions or travel tips, please leave me a comment in the section below.

Would you like more tips? Head to 5 Tips for Travelling with Babies and Toddlers

Happy travels!

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