How to Keep Toddlers Happy While Sightseeing

Every parent has done it. At some point you book a fabulous family vacation in an exotic location like Italy and hope to wing it through sites like the Colosseum and the Uffizi. The bad news is you can’t expect to go sightseeing like you did pre-kids, but the good news is you can experience the sights in a way that makes everyone down to your toddler happy.

Plan Grown-Up Outings Around Nap Time

There’s no reason Mom and Dad and older kids alike can’t enjoy a museum or cultural attraction, but it’s not exactly a toddler’s ideal situation. If you can swing it, plan a particularly grown-up outing around nap time and give your toddler plenty of time to fall asleep in their stroller. Turn it into a refuge for your little one with a blanket, a canopy to block out the sun and sights and a favorite toy to remind them of home.

Father and daughter sightseeing by boat

© Hai Huy Ton That | Dreamstime

Divide and Conquer

Family togetherness is typically the goal of a family vacation, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a 24/7 experience. Divide and conquer with your family on where to go and what to see. If one kid and Dad want to head to a theme park that’s not appropriate for your toddler, hit the beach instead or visit the Botanical Gardens. The idea is to plan a healthy balance of kid- and adult-friendly fun.

Bring Lots of Snacks

Snacks are usually a deal-breaker for toddlers. You may want to keep the food on lockdown, but if you let them get into the hunger zone while sightseeing, you might as well pack up and go home. Pack a snack bag with healthy options like nuts and dried fruit, add in a handful of Cheerios and bury a few treats like Gummy Bears that will delight your toddler and keep them smiling.

Playtime at the park with toddlers

© Pavla Zakova | Dreamstime

Take Plenty of Kid-Friendly Breaks

Kids need breaks and downtime, and the chance to run around and be kids. If you’re visiting an area that’s low on traditional kid fun like parks and playgrounds, try letting them run loose in a piazza or in a pedestrian-friendly square. Putting them back in their stroller with a special new toy can also serve as a reprieve from the sights and give them a fun escape.

Break Out the Baby Carrier

Some baby carriers can hold toddlers on your back until they reach a certain height and weight. Although this doesn’t work for every family, it can offer an alternative to the stroller and delight your toddler who gets a long-haul piggyback through a fabulous city. Just remember to stay mindful about the health of your back as it probably isn’t use to lugging a toddler through town.

It’s understandable to get stressed when traveling with a toddler and trying to figure out how to keep them happy. But the only way to survive and thrive with a toddler on vacation is to embrace the experience. You can also turn your vacation into a more enjoyable experience by choosing locations culturally kid friendly. Plenty of countries from Mexico to Italy adore small children and aren’t bothered by the screaming and whining that comes with traveling with toddlers in tow.