Potty training on vacation is just one more stage traveling parents need to navigate. On one hand, you no longer need to worry about packing diapers, but on the other hand you now need to make sure you have the ability to get your potty training toddler to a bathroom quickly. Those little bladders just can’t hold it for very long. Potty training while traveling can certainly add a few more challenges!
Potty training on vacation can seem very intimidating. Some parents even consider putting off that family vacation their child is completely potty trained and able to go long stretches without peeing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With these tips on traveling while potty training, you can confidently start planning your next family trip.
Travel with Potty Training Toddler
- Potty Training Travel Tips
- What to Pack when Travelling with a Newly Potty Trained Toddler
- Our Experience Traveling While Potty Training
- More Toddler Travel Resources
- Pin It For Later!
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Potty Training Travel Tips
Preparing to Travel with a Potty Training Toddler
Taking a newly potty trained child out for the first time can seem daunting, but once you get through that first time it will get easier. From there, you can start to work on ways that will make traveling while potty training so much easier.
Here is what we recommend doing before traveling with a newly potty trained toddler:
- Plan ahead for your first outing and bring everything you might need. You can even plan your first outing to be within short drive and somewhere where accidents won’t be a big deal (a park or playground).
- To get both your toddler and you used to the idea of going to the bathroom in other places, you can even bring along a potty for travel or a folding potty training seat. Which would also be very handy for camping with a toddler!
- Be prepared for accidents. They are going to happen and might be more frequent that you would like.
- Plan plenty of pee breaks in your schedule and get your toddler to try to go even if she says she don’t have to.
- When planning your trip with your newly potty trained child, consider staying in an Airbnb or VRBO similar type vacation rental where you’ll have access to laundry; it will be so worth it for this phase.
Other Potty Training Travel Tips
Once you have got your toddler used to the idea of going pee or poop without a diaper, it’s time to work on a few things that will make taking a newly potty trained child out so much easier.
- Get your child used to doing their business outside.
Trust me, this will be a life saver. Once those little bladders decide they need to be emptied, you don’t have a lot of time. You might find yourself in a park or having to pull off on the side of the highway and you’ll want your little one to be comfortable being able to go pee or poop outside.
- Work on getting your child used to using big toilets.
Yes, you can travel with a portable travel potty or a folding travel potty seat, but I speak from experience when I say a 3 year old is perfectly capable of sitting on a regular toilet and holding themselves up. Just imagine all the times they are going to need to go in a big toilet, at the airport, on the airplane, in hotels or Airbnb’s, in restaurants, etc.
Unless you want to carry a travel toilet seat or travel potty for toddlers with you everywhere, it will make your life so much easier if they can just use a regular toilet. We had our son using regular toilets when we were out, but he was less willing to do it at home where he had his familiar red potty training toilet.
Once we were traveling and he didn’t have a choice anymore, it was a non-issue and we put his potty training toilet away when we returned home (before he had a chance to see it).
- Take your child into plenty of public toilets.
I personally try to avoid public washrooms but knowing it would make potty training and traveling easier, we made a point to visit them every time we were out. Having a child that is comfortable using a public washroom will make traveling with them much easier.
- Pack wipes and travel toilet seat covers for toddlers
Carry wipes (so many wipes) so you can clean up public toilet seats before sitting your toddler on them or pack toilet seat covers.
- Prepare your toddler for automatic flush toilets.
Tell your child what to expect when they are using an automatic flush toilet before they use it. Automatic flush toilets as they can be pretty loud and scary to little ones who aren’t expecting it.
- Have some pull-ups for backup.
Don’t forget to pack some pull-ups. Sure diapers may be a thing of the past, but chances are your toddler may not be ready to go without a pull-up at night and you may want to use them if stopping for a toilet won’t be feasible.
When we had our potty training toddler wearing pull-ups on vacation, we made sure to talk to him about how we knew he was a big boy that didn’t need them – the pull-ups were just in case WE couldn’t get him to a toilet fast enough. We often put them over his underwear so he would still have that wet sensation and wouldn’t regress back to wearing diapers.
One extra little tip… if you take the opportunity to also use the facilities when your toddler is in the stall with you, give them a job to do so they aren’t opening the door and running out! My two favorites are the very important job of holding my phone or counting the screws on the wall.
Potty Training on an Airplane
Flying with potty training toddler won’t be all that difficult since you’ll be close to a toilet at all times in both the airport and on the airplane. However, there may be some circumstances where getting to the toilet just isn’t possible.
Here are our tips for navigating a flight with a toddler who is newly potty trained:
- Visit the toilets often.
Take your potty training child to the toilet when you get to the airport (right before security) and before boarding. Even if they say they don’t have to go, as soon as you are stuck in that security line they will have to go. You also won’t know how long it will be before that seatbelt light comes off on the plane.
- Use a pull-up for the flight.
Again, have that conversation with your toddler about why they are wearing a pull-up. You just never know how long you might sit on the runway or if there is turbulence and the seat-belt sign stays illuminated for a very long time. If you are worried about your toddler reverting back to diapers, then put the pull-up over his underwear.
On long haul flights, with some luck and one of these inflatable airplane beds for toddlers, your toddler should sleep and you’ll want to have a pull-up on him.
- Take your toddler to the toilet as soon as the seatbelt light goes off.
Take the opportunity to get first in line when the seatbelt light goes off! As with automatic toilets, prepare your child for the flushing sound on the airplane toilets as they can be pretty loud and scary… I move my toddler to the open door and have him start walking out before I reach back and flush it.
- Pack your potty training travel kit.
Having a potty training travel kit will be a lifesaver for many parents. Inside your travel kit, pack the essentials like a wet bag for wet undies (in case of an accident), extra pants and underwear, plenty of wipes to clean up the toilet seat and a few pull-ups (depending on the length of your flight). Keep your wipes protected in one of these baby wipes travel cases.
- Pack a travel potty for toddlers on the airplane.
If your toddler just isn’t comfortable with the big, loud toilet on the airplane, pack a small potty for travel.
Potty Training and Car Rides
What’s different about potty training for car journeys? Most of the tips for potty training on an airplane also apply to potty training for car rides, but we also include a few extra for road trips with kids who are newly potty trained.
Here are our tips for potty training on road trips:
- Plan your route with places to stop as needed.
Have an idea of your scheduled time to be in the car and plan for some possible places to stop in case of a bathroom emergency.
- Plan scheduled breaks.
Stop before your toddler screams they need to go potty. You can plan scheduled breaks.
- Use pull-ups to keep your car seat clean.
Save your car seat and put a pull-up on (even over underwear). This is especially important if your toddler is likely to fall asleep in their car seat during the long car ride.
Once, we didn’t consider using a pull-up as we only had an hour-long car ride and our toddler fell asleep. He then accidentally peed either when he was sleeping or right when we woke up. Trust us – dealing with a soiled car seat on a road trip is not fun!
- Pack a toddler travel potty in the car.
If you haven’t been successful getting your toddler to use regular toilets or go outside, it’s much easier to bring along a travel potty when you have your own car.
What to Pack when Travelling with a Newly Potty Trained Toddler
Based on our years of traveling with potty training children, this is what should go in your potty training travel kit each time you leave the house and some items that you should pack in your suitcase.
- Travel potty training seat: Let’s face it, all toddlers are different and your child may just not be comfortable using a regular toilet seat. Setting up your toddler for success in potty training when out is the main goal, so if a travel potty or training seat is what will make that happen then it’s worth the purchase.
- Extra pants and underwear for each outing: I usually pack 2 pairs of pants and underwear in case of accidents and depending on the length of our outing I might pack more.
- Pull-ups: These are a just in case item, but you’ll be glad you had them. If you find yourself changing your toddler into the last clean pair of pants, you might consider using the pull-ups just until you get back to your hotel or Airbnb.
- A wet bag or similar: Chances are you’ll be carrying around some soiled pants and underwear, so make sure to have a wet bag you can store them in until you get back to do laundry.
- Extra pairs of underwear and pants for the whole trip: For your trip, pack extra pairs of underwear and pants for your toddler just in case of accidents. You don’t want to spend your entire family vacation doing laundry.
- Laundry detergent: Packing a small container of laundry detergent for your trip will be useful if you end up having to clean some pants and underwear in the hotel sink. Isn’t being a traveling parent glamorous??
- Mattress cover: Is your toddler night trained? If you aren’t packing your own toddler travel bed, check that your Airbnb has mattress covers in case of accidents. If it doesn’t, bringing a mattress cover is a good idea.
Our Experience Traveling While Potty Training
When our son was 2.5 years old, we did a 7 week trip around the Czech Republic, Croatia and Iceland. He had enthusiastically started peeing on the potty right before the trip, thanks to our Jelly Belly reward system.
We were excited about the possibility of traveling without diapers, but he just didn’t seem ready to be fully transitioned yet. We also weren’t sure how to travel with a potty training toddler. So we put off the potty training until we returned home.
When we got home we had two months to get him fully potty trained before our next trip. Unfortunately, it felt like our window had passed. He was no longer interested in going on the potty no matter what we offered him.
It took us weeks of trying to coax him just to try. He can be pretty stubborn when he’s made his mind up about something.
Traveling without diapers aside, we were over the regular wrestling act of trying to change him so we were pretty motivated to get this done. After a lot of chats and bribes, we finally had him trying the potty again.
By this point, we had about a month to go and our mission wasn’t just to get him going pee on the potty… He needed to be able to tell us when he had to go and we needed him to be able to do both #1 and #2 in places that weren’t his familiar red plastic potty at home.
These tips above are what we used prior to traveling with our newly potty trained toddler.
We’d love to hear your best travel tips for a toilet training toddler!
More Toddler Travel Resources
- Toddler Travel Essentials
- Best Screen Free Toddler Travel Toys
- 1 Year Old Travel Toys
- 2 Year Old Travel Toys
- Best Places to Travel with Toddlers
- Best Budget Inflatable Airplane Beds for Toddlers & Kids
- 21 Tips on How to Get a Toddler to Sleep on the Plane
- Dealing with Toddler Jet Lag
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has contributed to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.