As a follow up to last week’s post, I want to address some lessons learned through travelling with a baby/toddler.
The reality check
Just when I thought I had a true appreciation for the world around me through my solo adventures, into the picture comes a baby boy.
Babies change everything. The way you sleep, the way you eat, and the way you see the world.
A new perspective
Sweet, bright, and chubby-cheeked, we completely fell head-over-heels for our little man. Being a first-time Mom, I was hesitant to go very far with him, so we spent his first year within a few hours’ drive of home. As mentioned last week, we used a family wedding in Quebec City as the excuse to spread our wings slowly. If I’m honest, I was itching to be on an adventure, but really afraid to make it happen.
Can anyone else relate to this?
This trip was certainly an adventure, but definitely not as hard as I anticipated.
Travel with a little person can be a challenge – sometimes they need to be changed or sleep or eat at less than opportune moments on the road. But let me tell you, it was worth it. All of the sacrifices made, meals missed and events left early.
1. Give yourself extra time
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s harder than you’d think to cut back on your ‘must-see’ list when you’re experiencing a new place for the first time. At least it was for me! Avoid disappointment by making a short must-see list, and keep some extra ‘bonus’ sights in your back pocket for any spare time you might have. Don’t forget to let loose and play.
Speaking of play, why not slow down to experience the world the way your little one does? You make the best discoveries when you aren’t in a hurry to get to the next must-see. And an emergency change or meal can lead to great restaurant discoveries! Embrace some of the chaos that can come from travel with kids.
2. Stay smart
Take the time to research where you’re staying. Again, a no-brainer, but I am the kind of traveller that just gets up and goes, without painstakingly planning
anything everything. With kids, it is better to spend an hour or two at the computer before you set off to save yourself frustration later.
Whether you stay AirBnB or go the hotel route, make sure you are transit accessible or have free parking available to you. Make sure you have even a small fridge in your room/lodging. Ensuite laundry and dishwashers are a definite bonus.
3. Pack only the necessities…
It isn’t necessary to pack a whole box of diapers. Why weigh yourself down, when in most countries you won’t have an issue buying more?
If you have picked a place with ensuite laundry, you won’t need a month’s worth of clothing. Even for the messiest of babies, and their clothes victims. From experience, you feel less tied to your room when everything you need fits into a small backpack.
… but invest in the travel gear that makes life easier
A pocket stroller (I have my eye on this one – it folds down to fit into carryon luggage!) or an infant/toddler carrier or wrap (I’m a big fan of our Lillebaby – and they make many more pattern and style options now than when I bought mine) are much easier to pack, stow and go. Depending on how you feel about electronics (and how old your little one is), a portable device (we have been loving this one from LeapFrog) might make planes, trains, and automobile trips more manageable (just remember to pack some headphones!). It might also come in handy if you have a family dinner that your squirmy toddler can’t manage to sit through.
4. Take photos, or hire someone to snap some for you!
I haven’t hired a service like Flytographer myself (yet!), but imagine spending an afternoon exploring at your leisure and not having to reach for your camera at all? AND being present in all of your photos! Highly recommend sharing the photographer responsibilities among friends, family, a professional, or even letting older kids have a turn. I can’t wait until our little guy can use a camera, so I can better understand what’s special and beautiful to him.
5. Learn to let go
Unless you have an event to go to, who says you can’t go back to your hotel for a nap in the afternoon? And why does a nap have to be in a bed? A little person being fussy about what they eat? You’re on vacation! Flexibility and fewer expectations can go a long way to improving your overall experience. I’m going to venture a guess that you don’t act/eat/sleep perfectly while vacationing or travelling, why expect different behaviour from your kids?
Any other tips and tricks you’ve picked up while travelling with kids?
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