Ashley Tisdale Shares Her Secrets for Traveling With a 2-Year-Old

The wellness entrepreneur and High School Musical alum talks travel anxiety, self-care rituals and the magic backpack hack you need for your next trip.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Assistant Editor
Published July 20, 2023
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There are a lot of things about traveling with a 2-year-old that you simply can’t control. Flight delays, traffic jams and unexpected changes in the plan can cause tempers to flare and a good mood to crumble. Even if it all goes to plan, your little one could suddenly decide they hate their favorite snack or simply can’t stand to sit in their seat any longer. But before you go putting the kibosh on travel for the next few years, consider that the solution to your worries might be a few deep breaths and a Baby Shark backpack. Or at least that’s what Sharpay would do.

We recently sat down with High School Musical alum, empowered mom and frequent flyer Ashley Tisdale at the launch of Chase IHG One Rewards Credit Cards’, The Slowdown. A pop-up experience designed to inspire future travel, we talked with Tisdale about her top tips for traveling with her 2-year-old daughter Jupiter. Below, the Frenshe wellness founder opens up about everything from her sky-high must-haves for Jupiter to her on-the-go self-care routine, plane pet peeves and how becoming a mother has actually helped with her travel anxiety.

The Bump: So right before this interview, you actually flew into New York with Jupiter and your husband. What was supposed to be a short adventure turned out to be an eight-hour flight! Tell us more about how you navigated that.

Ashley Tisdale: We had a pretty crazy flight! The storms wouldn’t allow us to land, so we had to go refuel in Syracuse, and the whole thing took much longer than expected. I honestly didn’t know how she was going to handle it and she was just so great. We watched Encanto, did our nails and I can’t believe it but she even napped twice! Like what? I’ve heard horror stories from other mom friends, so I braced myself for that, but she’s been so great. It’s wild. I’ve been blessed with like an amazing travel child.

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TB: Between summer fun and your upcoming projects, you are on the road or in the air a fair amount these days. What do you always have packed in your travel diaper bag?

AT: Obviously, a change of clothes is always key. We also bring the basics like her favorite snacks, SPF and Tylenol just in case, she’s not feeling well. But my core diaper bag doesn’t really change much. I think the difference when we’re traveling is that we create her a “magic backpack.”

TB: Tell us more about this magical backpack.

AT: So she’s got this Baby Shark backpack, and we stock it full of little trinkets and toys. We throw in things like Play-Doh, nail polish, coloring books and plenty of fun snacks. The key here is that she hasn’t seen any of the stuff in the backpack before we get on the flight. So, when she’s on the flight, part of the fun is that she’s able to go through and discover everything. Just exploring and unpacking everything in the backpack takes her about 20 minutes. She loves the zippers and then when she gets into it, she’s like, there’s so much here! So, that really comes in handy when traveling.

TB: Jupiter’s must-have for trips is her magical backpack. What are your must-haves? What self-care things do you incorporate into your routine when traveling?

AT: I love my wellness rituals. While on my own mental health and wellness journey, I discovered that introducing fragrance into my daily rituals greatly influenced my mood—whether it was to keep me grounded and calm or celebrate my confidence and joy. For travel anxiety Frenshe’s Soothe & Comfort Cashmere Vanilla Collection can’t be beat. Our Hydrating Hand Serum makes for the perfect in-flight treat.

I also love reading. I always have a book I bring with me when I’m traveling. I also like to meditate in the mornings. I think that’s so important before the baby wakes up to just kind of like set yourself up for the day.

TB: Even before you became a mom you struggled with travel anxiety. How has being Jupiter’s Mom actually helped you curb your travel anxiety?

AT: A huge part of breaking the cycle of panic-inducing thoughts is to be present. And I have no choice but to be present because of Jupiter. When I am traveling with her I need to be focused completely on her and her needs. I’ve realized that I can either be present or let my anxiety take over for the moment, but I can’t do both. I’ve never wanted to let my stress affect my daughter, so I’m working on learning to let go. It’s just about trying your best and having faith it will be fine.

TB: What are your tips for parents trying to cope with travel anxiety?

AT: Try meditating up until your next travel day and learn some breathwork techniques for when high-stress times arrive. My go-to method is to breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, and then breathe out for four seconds.

TB: Do you have any travel pet peeves?

AT: I literally can’t stand it when people aren’t wearing socks on the airplane. The minute I get on the plane, I like to put my comfy socks on. It’s cozy and makes me feel good. On this last flight, I had put my daughter’s on, and I had taken a nap, and I look over, and she’s got no socks on and is running around. And I’m like, babe, what? And he was like; she took them off. I was like, well, put shoes on her! This is so gross. I can’t. So that is definitely a pet peeve of mine.

Other than that, I really don’t go into traveling with pet peeves. I just have to let stuff go. You know, traveling is always chaos at times. So I really try to just move through it the best way I can.

TB: When you’ve arrived at your final destination, how do you find time to relax as a mom of a little one?

AT: It’s always good to bring along a buddy like your husband or your mom. My mom, Jupiter and I went to Hawaii right after Christmas as my mom’s Christmas gift. And it was great! My mom will go with her for naptime so I can lay out and vice versa. It just gives me a little bit of “me time.” You know, whether my husband’s putting her down for a nap one day and then I put her down for a nap the next day. We really try to balance it out and give each other time to have our own time. I think that’s important.

I love traveling, you know, I love to vacation. And that’s why I partnered up with Chase IHG One Rewards Credit Cards on their Slowdown Popup. As a mom, as a founder and as someone who works a lot, it’s really about slowing down and taking those moments to just kind of be with each other and step away from work. And that’s when I vacation.

TB: For our last minute here together, we’d love to do a rapid-fire game of this or that where you pick your favorite of two things. Are you ready to play?

AT: Sure!

Diaper bag or backpack? Backpack.

Road trip or flight? I’d love a road trip.

Sing along or movie? Movie.

Bluey or Baby Shark? Oh, gosh. No, that’s so hard. I love Baby Shark, and I’m actually voicing Stariana in the upcoming Baby Shark The Big Movie! that’s coming out this winter! Jupiter and I love them both. I can’t pick!

Snack cup or sippy cup? I like a snack cup. She loves those.

Rolling suitcase or weekender? Weekender. Yeah. I love weekenders.

Early flight or red eye? Early flight.

Vacation home or hotel? I love a hotel. Chase IHG has 18 brand hotels and like 6,000 destinations! I definitely want to go to Paris, the Kimpton that they have is amazing, but also there’s a hotel in Bali, the Intercontinental, that looks incredible. So, I’m going to be hitting up both of those for sure. I have the Chase IHG One Rewards Premier credit card. So I’m racking up points and ready to book my next vacation!

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