This past weekend my husband and I took our 13 month old son on a 7 hour road trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, my husband’s old college town, for a Track & Field Alumni gathering.
We’ve both traveled with Ezra before, for 3-4 hour road trips and various flights to NY to see my family. Once I was traveling alone with Ezra. We were flying to Florida on a cheap airline. It was supposed to be a 2 hour flight, but we got delayed while on the plane because of weather issues and ended up being stuck on the cramped, warm plane for significantly longer than planned.
Thank God I had the assistance of many strangers. Strangers that played with Ezra on the plane, held him when I went to the bathroom, helped me grab my luggage, and sat with me in the airport while I waited for my ride. Quite frankly it was extremely overwhelming, BUT in many ways, it wasn’t as difficult as our most recent adventure to Michigan.
It was a different kind of stressful. Ezra’s little 13 month old self can’t sit still for more than 2 minutes before having the burning need to explore. He throws tantrums like it’s his job and has mastered the high pitch scream. Everything belongs to him. He does not understand personal space and he will not hesitate to throw your work-out equiptment down the stairs.
Journeys with a toddler will never be perfect, but if we follow some simple tips, we can make these trips less anxiety provoking and more enjoyable for everyone!
Below are 5 tips I suggest when traveling with a young one:
- Lower Your Expectations: Trips will never be the same. There are so many positives that happen when traveling with a toddler, but it will not be perfect. Everything will not go as planned. Accept it and you won’t be dissapointed when it happens. Ezra was trying to do back flips from his high chair at the diner the first day of our trip. The second time we braved a diner, we ended up leaving before we were seated because Ezra was already throwing a fit and take-out seemed really attractive in that moment. Plan to go off course. You may see less than you would if you were without the baby. You may draw less attention to yourself if you were without the baby. But the baby is with you so prepare to laugh at the unplanned craziness.
- Prepare Your Toddler: Ezra actually did really well in the car. It was the moments we spent exploring, eating, and lounging that were interupted with baby-drama. Following this tip would have made all the difference. For example, at home we allow Ez to climb on the living room table. When staying in Michigan, Ezra insisted on climbing on our host’s table, naked bum and all. He could not understand why he was not allowed to generalize that activity to other homes. If there is something you want your toddler to do on vacation (i.e. sit in highchair; go to bed at certain time) start adjusting your child to new standards a few weeks before your trip.
- Provide Car Entertainment: We took turns sitting in the back with Ezra, playing silly games with him when he became antsy. We gave occassional stretch breaks where he could get some fresh air. Loud music seemed to keep him distracted and the car dvd player was seriously a life saver. I’ve also heard of moms buying their little ones some new, cheap toys to entertain while on the road (check out featured blogs below for more details!!)
- Pack Extra Everything: Extra bottles, extra diapers, extra blankets. The unexpected happens. And even if little one never goes through more than one pair of socks in a day, it will be on this trip that he steps in a puddle and needs that extra pair!
- Be Flexible with Itinerary: Everything will take longer. Plan to fit diaper-changing breaks, nap breaks, and feeding breaks into your schedule. Plan around your baby’s schedule if possible. I’ve never been good at this, but admire those who are! Plan extra time to get baby ready, load the car, and order at the restaurant. That little one of yours will be a bit out of wack because of the new location so be flexible. You don’t need to complete every single event planned. One evening we planned to visit Downtown Detroit. But Ezra was tired after a long day. We didn’t want to re-pack the car, put Ezra back in the carseat, or agitate him (and therefore, ourselves) anymore. We took it easy and decided to stay in and do a movie night.
Many other mamas of toddlers have shared their wonderful blog posts with me. So many fun and helpful ideas that I would never have thought of on my known. I know I will be referencing the blog posts below before I take my next trip with my crazy little toddler! Happy reading!
For more general (and really well-thought out) traveling tips: 💼👇
For you mamas with babes who want all your attention: 😴👇
For tips on surviving the airport with your little ones: ✈👇
For tips on traveling internationally with a youngster: 🌍👇
For tips on surving a long road trip with the little monsters: 🚘👇
If you have any more tips to share, leave them in the comments below! I hope all your future adventures are filled with less baby-drama and more fun for mama!!