Potty Training While Traveling

Taking the Sh*t Show to a Whole New Level

Taking the browns to the super bowl.  Tinkle, tinkle, little star. Poo in the loo.  Doing your duty. Unloose the caboose. Dropping anchor.  Busting a grumpy. Make like Snoop and drop it like it’s hot.  Taking the kids to the pool…and I don’t mean the nearest aquatic center.   

You get the idea.

Potty training in general is usually a sh*t show on a good day.  Then even when you get there, when your trainee is finally trained, accidents still happen in the comfort of your own home or in other familiar surroundings let alone in a new, unfamiliar place.  Or on an airplane. Or stuck in a car. Or in a public bathroom where the loud sound of the toilets and hand dryers are literally life threatening to a toddler. Potty training thrives off of consistency and routine, conveniency and familiarity.  Traveling is none of these things.

What’s a mama to do when you’re planning to hit the road while your little is trying to develop reasonable control over their bodily functions?  These tips might help.


Top 10 Tips

for Tinkles and Toots

Don’t start potty training right before a trip

Potty training can be overwhelming for some toddlers, so incorporating the process into familiar routines and surroundings will bring your little one a sense of comfort and security in a sometimes daunting process.  This doesn’t exist when you travel which can be stressful, even with kids who are already potty trained. Don’t cause yourself more stress by starting this process in unfamiliar territory. If your trip is closer than a minimum of one month away, save yourselves and WAIT.  You need time to solidify the process before you hit the road.  Your little one will be okay in diapers for a little while longer.

Plan realistically

Everything takes longer with kids and potty training is no exception.  Leave plenty of time for extra stops. If you’re driving, a mandatory stretch and potty break should happen every two hours (or between each movie).  Oh you don’t have to potty now, you say? Well you’re about to try anyways.  Plan at least 30 minutes for each break.  Yes, THIRTY, and not a minute less because the whole process will be an ordeal.  Build this time in to your itinerary right from the start to minimize the frustration of always running behind schedule.  If you’re traveling by air, pray…and leave yourself extra time at the airport for potty breaks.

Pack Right.

Extra clothes and underwear are necessary.  Roll up extras in the nooks and crannies of your large suitcases and pack extras separately for easy access in a grab bag or carry on luggage.  Things can happen unexpectedly with the digestive system and usually escalate quickly, so having some pull-ups on hand is always a good idea. Pack all the baby wipes you possibly can, even if you’re done changing diapers.  Baby wipes can be used for almost any purpose under the sun.

Bring cheap underwear

Don’t pack underwear you aren’t okay throwing away. Bring the old, stained, ratty pairs.  Actually…SAVE the old, stained ratty pairs for this purpose in the first place or buy the cheapest ones you can find.  Who cares if they’re made overseas and the seams are kinda crooked? Poop doesn’t care and pee doesn’t discriminate. If you really want to salvage the dirty pairs, buy a box of Ziploc bags from the Dollar Store and shove them in your bag.  You need to seal in the stink and grocery bags won’t save you.

Look for family restrooms whenever possible

These will have changing tables and much more space and privacy than standard stalls.  Littles are easily overwhelmed by the loud noises and crowds in shared restrooms so a family restroom can help calm the nerves.  If driving, look for as many rest stops as you can; they almost always have at least one family restroom. There’s also a hotel at almost every interstate exit and hotel bathrooms are typically much cleaner than gas stations.  Oh, gas stations. Sometimes there’s no way around it. Disposable toilet seat covers can be a lifesaver. You can buy these on Amazon and easily slide them into your bag for protection against questionable commodes.

Pack a travel toilet seat

It’s worth its weight in gold.  Public toilets can be big and scary and are not made to fit little bottoms.  A travel toilet seat can help provide some fun, cutesy motivation to do the deed in cleaner comfort.  You can find lots of different travel seats but we swear by the Gimars Folding Travel Seat, available on Amazon for $13 in your choice of a pink, blue, or yellow owl.  Six silicone pads and two owl clips on the bottom keep the seat firmly in place so your little isn’t sliding around.  It folds up into fourths and fits snugly into the included travel pouch and takes up very little room in your bag. We’ve had zero fear or resistance pottying in public since using “the potty owl.”  Highly recommend!

Block the sensor

For the love of all things sacred BLOCK THE SENSOR.  Automatic flushers seem to always flush either the instant you make the slightest movement or while you’re not even done in the first place.  Either way, you’re still sitting on the can when it happens and if your toddler has ever fallen victim to this cruel occurence it’s the saddest and funniest thing all at the same time.  You’d think the devil himself appeared right there in the bathroom stall. Post-its. Get the generic ones from the Dollar Store and stick a pack in your bag to cover the flushing sensor while your little one is on the toilet.  Problem solved…and soul saved.

Make it fun and less scary

I know a child who spent months terrified to poop because she thought she was literally LOSING A PART OF HER when the poop came out.  Not mentioning any names. Toddlers are easily thrown off their norms when traveling and suddenly the scary stuff becomes even scarier in a new environment.  Try and comfort the poor babes and make the process as fun as you can. A cutesy toilet seat, a silly potty song, taking a stuffed animal potty with them, reading a book, watching a Youtube video, do whatever you need to do to calm the storm.  Which leads to the next tip…   

Use encouragement and rewards frequently

AKA bribes.  Within reason, all bets are off when you’re on the road.  Bribe away and use candy. If you just come with me and try I swear you can eat Skittles for lunch, or maybe pick out a special snack when we’re done.  Do what you need to do to motivate your little to get to the potty and if you make it in time, praise the heck out of it.  It’s a big deal! Use lots of verbal encouragement and praise. The occupants in the other stalls need some entertainment!           

Expect some resistance

And just go with the flow.  We don’t really love gas station bathrooms, so we shouldn’t expect littles to either.  Too much pressure on them, and on yourself, can backfire and end up causing stress and regression.  Try your best and if you guys just can’t quite get there, it’s okay mama. Accidents are a normal part of the process and it’ll get better.  And this trip won’t last forever.