When Toddler Travel Gets Good
She was a couple months past her second birthday, and I would classify my expectations for a long weekend in Boston and New Hampshire as moderate. She has lots of experience flying and a pretty even temperament for a two year old, but she's two. I've been making strides in the patient/calm/soft(er)-spoken areas of my parenting, but I'm human. Fortunately, we were headed to a wedding - there would be dancing.
Thank you Boston and NH - we had an incredible weekend!
It's true, the power in our house went out for almost two hours as I was in the thick of the pre-dawn airport departure scramble; the lights flicked on as we were climbing in the car, and I was a grump the entire drive to the airport. I thought this trip was doomed, but I was completely wrong.
The best thing I did to prepare for our long weekend away was to understand and really accept that sleep times and durations would be abnormal. That probably sounds very basic, but historically sleep has been a huge stressor for me. I tried to envision our days with short or no naps, late bedtimes, and 5 am wake-ups. That way when a stroller nap bought us time for a delicious lunch, sleep happened during car rides, a late bedtime led to sleeping past 8 am, and naptime in the hotel crib actually worked, it was a lovely surprise every time.
It didn't hurt that the weather was a perfect 70-ish and sunny all weekend. We walked Newbury Street and played for ages on the Make Way for Ducklings ducklings in the Public Garden; we ate outside and met my brother for coffee; we drove in manageable traffic and gave ourselves enough time to get places; we witnessed a beautiful wedding and enjoyed the party with lots of dancing afterwards; we explored the small seaside New England town the next day, ate fish and gelato, and found a playground.
There were snags, of course. A hot church and lots of wiggles on and off the pew - a break for fresh air. A bonked head resulting from too much energy and adult speeches - a few tears and snuggles on daddy's shoulder. A touch of car sickness - an unexpected exit and a short walk outside with mom.
A few travel guidelines that are working for us right now:
- Pack light (two backpacks and a small roller bag - all carry-on - dress clothes required the extra bag);
- For the plane, bring a couple activities and lots of snacks (the snacks were eaten all weekend);
- Bring the lightweight stroller, rent the carseat;
- Allow time to explore the hotel room and talk about where everyone will sleep;
- Follow the same bedtime routine from home;
- Something your kid will eat can be found almost anywhere;
- Plan extra time for getting from point A to B;
- Balance adult things with kid things, find the playground (or the ducks);
- Choose to have fun and let the normal schedule and expectations go;
- Say yes to treats, ice cream or otherwise.
Sure, there are logistics to consider for toddler travel, and any travel. Each time we travel, I'm learning that the mental preparation and mindset I carry with me make the biggest impact. Forgotten items can be replaced or done without and travel glitches can be corrected as they unfold, but a day that starts off grumpy for one person can very quickly bring down the whole group. Good thing I snapped out of it during the car ride to the airport, thanks in no small part to my husband.
What's making travel great for you right now?