We're parents who happen to love travel so we know what it's like to take a trip with a baby and or toddler. Having packed our bags and made it to our destination we've faced a few bumps along the road that have made us want to pack our bags and head back home but we stuck it out and learned from our experiences. With vacation season upon us we thought sharing a few of these insights might be helpful. Happy travels!
Every parent knows that organization is the key to de-stressing just about anything so vacations or trips are really no exception. Once you are at your destination create designated spaces for key tasks.
Set-up a changing station. We like the desks in most hotel rooms for this. Place a plush towel with your changing mat on top of it and stack your diapers wipes and other essentials on this same table. Move the lamp if necessary or use it.
Designate a "kitchen" even if you are just in a standard room. This may mean you use another of the tables or side tables. You just have to keep all related items together so your bottles, baby food, snacks, formula, etc. are all in one spot. If you are not in a suite with a kitchen our favorite spot is the bathroom counter where we also place a towel next to the sink and dry our bottles upside down once we have washed them.
Select a play space. Hopefully you remembered to bring toys, books, etc to keep baby entertained so find a spot in the room… a drawer, a lower shelf or a nice corner of the room so that baby knows where to find things and you can corral the clutter.
Accept the new reality of schedules
Most babies and toddlers thrive on schedules but that seems like an oxymoron when paired with a vacation. Not so. If you factor in naps and meal times it actually helps you plan your activities and get more bang for your vacation buck.
Consider how your baby naps… if he or she can do so in a stroller or car plan a walk (to view the sights) or drive (to get to your next destination or to enjoy the scenery) during nap time.
Stay Close. If you know your child only naps in his or her crib splurge for a hotel that is close to the action (beach or downtown) so you can come back and allow them to nap. You can take that time to rest yourselves… after all it is a vacation.
Baby on my back. Another option is to wear your baby. A front carrier or a backpack carrier might be an option but some babies don't enjoy this so test it out at home well before vacation time.
Food for thought. Remember that although young babies can be fed on-the-go and toddlers like to graze you have to plan for meals. Lots of healthy snacks are good for toddlers but keeping items cold can be challenging. Invest in a good soft cooler that you can use with Ice Packs and consider using powder so you only have to make what they'll consume. Don't forget that if you will not have access to distilled or other "safe" water you should bring your own and you will have to keep that at least cool if not cold.
Early dinner. Although we might enjoy a more adult and romantic 7:30 dinner eating at 5:30 is more "kid-friendly". You will not interfere with sleep time, you have more room in a less full restaurant, and a much shorter wait for your food.
Generally the idea is that you should work with your child's schedule and try to use it in your favor when planning your activities.
Make peace with modified plans
Having kids means being comfortable with change and the happiest parents are those that can go with the flow when things don't go according to plan. If that means leaving something early or changing your "preferred" sites to visit parenting means you have to roll with the punches.
You'll regret it. Sure it would have been great if you could have stayed at the theme part until closing but unless your child can really sleep in a stroller you would have regretted it. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience to work with your child rather than against them. Most importantly you can have as much fun in two half days as you could in one long day and you and your family may be much better off for it.
Remember that it's about the journey
Regardless of any specific activity or location you get to visit remember to enjoy they journey. Embrace the craziness that is traveling with kids and realize that soon they'll be adults and these precious moments will be the stuff of great memories and fun family stories that you'll long for once they're grown.