How Do I Travel With a Potty Training Child?

How Do I Travel With a Potty Training Child?
Written by:
Michelle Swaney
April 6, 2022

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[This is a partial transcription from a live Q&A. To watch the video, or read the full transcript - join the Diapers-to-Flush membership here!]

We're going to talk about traveling today with a newly, or currently potty training kiddo.

I feel like with the last year being 2020, the previous year of people being home a lot, even the people who weren't super adventurous all still have a little bit of a case of wanderlust these days. Everyone just kind of wants to get out and about a little bit.

Even if you're not planning on going super far, I feel like these tips will be helpful for you. So I'm gonna divide it a little bit. So if we go back to Paul Revere, do you guys remember him? “One, if I land two, if I by sea” Ironically we use “#1” for something, and then we use “#2”, for something else with potty training,

But, we're going to talk about traveling by land and traveling by sea. For the sake of argument, we're going to move it to air travel. So if you are in a car traveling somewhere, you have different options than you have at home, right? So you're not necessarily having your particular pottying place that pottying space that potentially could be replicated. 

You could bring the little potty with you, but the actual environment, the space where they are is going to be different and that's okay. But, I would recommend, as best you can, to try and keep things as similar as possible. But, you do not need to haul everything from your bathroom with you, but if you haven't started planning it, I would keep in mind that this might be something that you need to consider for the future.

I would recommend, as best you can, to try and keep things as similar as possible. But you do not need to haul everything from your bathroom with you. - The Potty School

The idea of “start as you mean to go on,” can be really helpful if you're starting from the beginning. Here are a few things I would recommend for traveling. 

Ongoing Potty Training Support Diapers to Flush The Potty School

(1) Buy a travel potty.

And when I say recommend, I mean like very, very strongly recommend. 

For best-selling travel potties on Amazon, click here.

There are a couple of different brands out there.

There's Oxo, which is the most popular one. I would say that's the best of it. It’s basically a seat reducer that goes on top of your toilet and has little flaps that come out so that it sits on the toilet seat, like a regular adult size toilet seat. Or, you can fold those little flaps underneath and have them stand up as little legs.

You can either have your kiddo just like pee onto the ground if you wanted to, but they have inserts. They have reusable inserts. They also have biodegradable bag options. Then, they also have just plastic bag version that has a little pad in the middle of it. So it's basically like a thin plastic bag. And then it has a little soaker pad. So it's not as likely to spill all over the place.

And it's not quite as wishy-washy in there after you're done. Then, you just tie it up and throw it away. Like you would a doggie bag if you were on a walk with a doggie, right? So a travel potty, I would highly recommend it for various reasons, but honestly, partially because I feel like we're still in this society where you could go to the local anything, whether it be a Starbucks, and the bathroom isn’t even open. 

So even just realizing,  if you go somewhere to go grab yourself a tea or coffee or something, and there's no bathrooms, what are you going to do? A travel potty is super, super pivotal! 

On that note, don’t forget both the bags AND you need to bring something to actually wipe the human with. Bring either wet wipes or just regular toilet paper, either work because you're just gonna pop them in that bag and dispose of them anyway.

(2) If you're in a car, I recommend buying a waterproof carseat liner

Save it and use it for wet-bottomed beach trips down the road!

Because they can be specific to your specific car seat, you have to enter in and into Amazon or something like that as one word. So enter  “carseat,” not “car seat”. Otherwise, you'd get suggestions for a full car, adult sized seats in a car covers, maybe for an adult who has urinary problems and they're trying to keep it dry. So this is more for the child who's potty training. Enter in “Graco + waterproof carseat liner”.

They’re also great for kids who just have wet bottoms coming from the beach or something like that. We still use it with our booster seats! You can get them per brand that matches up with your car seat manufacturer. That's what I would recommend. But then they also have some generic ones that haven't necessarily been safety tested with your particular brand, so use your discretion, but they can fit on most carseats (and then typically also on booster seats). So it's just water resistant or waterproof on the bottom and then sort of like a cloth lining on top. And then you can just toss them in the washing machine super easily, which I promise is so much easier than actually having to pull apart your entire child's car seat or even just the cover of a booster seat for the future. Just pull it off and pop that in the wash (instead of having to take off straps, etc.). Avoid a big ordeal. So I'd highly, highly recommend getting those two things. 

  1. Get a travel potty
  2. A car seat or a booster seat cover, as the case may be. (again, use your discretion as far as safety and what brand you're getting and all of tha)..

Those would be my two biggest suggestions for actual land, meaning via car or train or bus, or however it is bike travel that you're going to be doing.

For travel via airplane, I'm going to say for airplanes, that is a different case scenario. So think about it. If you're on an airplane as an adult and that “buckle, your seatbel”t light goes on and you have to go to the bathroom… What do you do?

Sometimes you have to wait for a solid 10 minutes, 15 minutes, half hour, 45 minutes. It can be a decent amount of time, depending on how far you're going and how much turbulence you hit. Think about that for your potty training child. Are they realistically going to be able to hold on to pee for 20 minutes a half an hour?

If you don't have like a hundred percent confidence that your child can actually hold it. I would highly recommend putting a diaper on potentially over top of their underwear. So meaning you have on the child's underwear and then either put on a diaper. When I say diaper, I include pull-ups in those. 

You can use a cloth pull up, or you could use a disposable pull up. You could use a swim diaper over top of their underwear. Use what you feel like would make sense for your family. But I just don't want you to end up in a situation where your child is potty trained, but there are actual physical reasons why you can't just get up and take them to the bathroom. Honestly, in this day and age, I would probably just buy a pair of Peejamas and call it quits. One pair for the travel to the airport and another to change into at the airport.

Peejamas come in shorts and pants style!

Be mindful that situation can happen in the airport too.

Sometimes you're stuck checking luggage, or at baggage claim or going through security. All of a sudden is getting searched through when your child needs to go to the bathroom and you can see the bathroom. It's so close, but you can't get to it. Just realizing that you might have scenarios like that when you are traveling, especially internationally, just because the lines can be so much longer and the wait can be longer.

Being prepared for those situations is pivotal. When you are traveling even moreso than just a daytrip, I would highly recommend packing a bag that includes extras of everything. And I mean all the way down to shoes, unless your child's actually going to be wearing a Pull-Up®  or something like that. The entire time I would recommend bringing extra everything, even shoes. Maybe it's just a little pair of flip flops or something that they don't normally wear something so that if poo poo gets on their shoe or pee gets on their shoe because they're training, right? 

That's specifically what we're talking about. Then you have a backup for them. Potentially even throw an extra shirt in your bag for good measure. I wouldn't say a whole outfit for you, but if you're going to risk it on a plane with a newly potty trained child, realize that they're probably going to be sitting either next to you or depending on their age, on your lap, and that you might end up with whatever they miss on your lap for a little while. 

Either bring yourself a change of clothes or consider the idea of having the backup. It's not going to be something that you leave on the entire trip.

I’m not recommending using Pull-Ups ®  around the clock. What I'm recommending is that you have an extra backup layer for the situation where it's physically impossible or potentially physically impossible to actually get to a bathroom for your child when they need it, whether they're communicating it or not. 

That means you pop that extra layer on over top of their underwear because they should be used to underwear at this point.

If they're going commando, I would say just straight up go to a diaper for the travel portion. So it's probably what four hours, or maybe if it's an international flight, 12 hours, something like that?

Take them to the bathroom on the flight, and after they actually go to the bathroom, get rid of that backup option and then carry on (depending on the flight’s length - or just keep it on for the duration). 

As far as traveling, I would highly recommend setting yourself a phone reminder. Set a timer versus a time of day reminder to take your child to the bathroom. 

So I have the different countries’ time zones, right on my phone. I have the world clock. Your time zones are going to change if you're going to different places. The catch is if you put an alarm for 2:00 PM and you haven't reset, or your turned your phone back on, or it hasn't like caught up to the new time zone, you might mis sthe reminder to take your child to the bathroom. 

That said, I would set it as a timer. Do the timer based on their age, don't do every 20 minutes. 

They'll go crazy if you do! They won’t need a reminder every 20 minutes, especially if you're traveling. Be realistic, that if you're going to rely on your child being potty trained, while you're traveling, then they should be able to go for, I would say at least two hours before you even start  playing the game of underwear on an airplane. 

Hopefully that helps you guys out a little bit, as far as what to expect, as far as travel goes, I would say just even out and about like day trips and things I have a travel potty in my car trunk all the time. And when I say all the time, I sincerely mean one hundred percent of the time. Like it's either in there or it's because it's drying out because I rinsed it off and then it's going straight back in there.

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