As the summer heats up, many families flee the city for some well deserved r&r. While Boston offers numerous family friendly activities during the summer months, June-August also tend to be a heavy travel season for Boston Babies.
The Fourth of July is the first real sign that summer has started. This generally kicks off the season for vacation time, celebrations and busy travel schedules. When planning trips, Moms and Dads often debate where to go, what to see and how much gear to bring on their next family excursion. Whether you are staying close and doing a “stay cation,” heading to the Cape for the weekend, or packing for a plane to wisk you and your little one away for the week, traveling with toddlers can be a point of anxiety for parents.
Even if you are the over packer who lugs the super sized stroller, complete with the car seat, play matts, SPF beach tents, umbrellas and matching lounge chairs on the plane–no one is judging! (Well, maybe some folks are, and it would be likely that such a scene could result in looks, sighs and some off color comments–but the point is that you are heading on an adventure with your family and getting there is the toughest part!)
Do not let the tedious packing, panic over toddler tantrums or passengers’ perceived problems get in your way of a good time. If you can manage the mayhem of traveling with a toddler, then the vacationing part is well worth it! No one is going to pretend that planes, trains, delays, gear and melt downs (yours or your toddler’s) are not challenging…but vacationing (tot in tow) is a very rewarding and memorable experience that you (more often than not) will never regret.
Boston based Mom and Dad, Carin and Chris Moeder, provide a few tips for traveling with your tot. Continue reading for best practices on how they recommend managing (and enjoying) a trip with your munchkin.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Traveling with My Toddler…
Thinking about jet-setting with Junior? As the summer travel season is upon us, many families will be embarking on adventures both big and small. Whether you’re hitting the local beaches, enjoying a summer house or flying the friendly skies (or – lucky you – all of the above), family travel can bring out the best and worst of Boston Babies, Moms and Dads alike.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled this list of travelling Do’s and Don’ts along with Boston Dad and my better half, Chris. This is based on personal experience with recent plane trips to Puerto Rico, Italy, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC, and St. Louis, as well as more car trips to the Cape and other local destinations than we can even remember. I’m sure many of the readers of this blog have their own travel tips to share, so please feel free to share your comments! Without further a-“Do”…
Tips To “Do” When Traveling with Toddlers:
- Accept the new reality of travelling with your child(ren)
Remember your honeymoon…when you and your S.O. spent hours doing “nothing,” enjoying the sunsets, wine and food?
Yeah, um, traveling with kids is a little different than that.
But different doesn’t mean bad. My daughter’s pure joy at hitting the beach or jumping in a hotel pool makes even the most mundane trips exciting again.
And we truly appreciate the required afternoon siesta dictated by the afternoon nap – how did we ever live without this? The key is to adjust your expectations – you will move around less (geographically), nap more during the day (assuming your child is agreeable), see the town earlier (less crowds, etc.) and have earlier (and more relaxing) dinners.
- Consider renting an apartmentMuch as it is nice to rack up and use hotel points, we’ve been converted to the advantages of a rental. There are plenty of great online resources to find apartments worldwide – vrbo.com and homeaway.comjust to name a couple.There are many reasons to rent an apartment:
*A kitchen allows for more leisurely breakfasts and/or lunch should your little one get restless.
*Accessible laundry is always a plus!
*It is cheaper to stay in a rental then a hotel when staying in one location for more the 2-3 days.
*Separate space for your lovely one to sleep = potential romance for the adults…
- Get a babysitter (if the budget allows)
You and your S.O. deserve a night out while on your vacation. Your hotel likely has an agreement with a babysitting service in the area. Our experience is that these services are trustworthy and reliable–particularly since they’ve been evaluated by the hotel. If your hotel can’t recommend a service, you can always use a sittercity.com account to find babysitters in other cities. Better yet, if you’ve saved money by renting an apartment and have an extra bedroom, bring Grandma along!
- Invest in a specific travel book for kids (particularly if traveling overseas)
On a recent trip the “travel with kids” book was the only one we ended up using. Why? All the restaurant recommendations have already been pre-vetted as ‘family-friendly.’ Plus, in an effort to make churches, museums, palaces, etc. more interesting to kids, they’re also more interesting to adults.
- Make liberal use of your Apple productsNothing occupies a child on an airplane like an iPhone or iPad. A couple downloaded TV shows (Cat in the Hat, Sesame Street, etc.) goes a long way. Sometimes we just turn on the camera and reverse the view so our daughter can stare at herself for hours. Thank you, Steve Jobs (RIP).
Tips “Not to Do” When Traveling with Toddlers:
- Not do a trip just because your child is too young to ‘appreciate it’
I recall having second thoughts about our trip… “Why are we taking a 1.5 year old on such a long trip? She won’t even remember this when she’s older.”
Even if my daughter won’t remember it–I certainly will. Nothing will replace for me the image of my daughter walking up the Spanish Steps in Rome on her own or discovering real gelato for the first time.
- Worry about forgetting to pack incidental itemsYou can always pick up diapers, a sippy cup or toothbrush at a local store. As we say in our family: “It’s not like we’re travelling to Kandahar”. [And by the way, I’m pretty sure there are supermarkets in Kandahar where they sell diapers and wipes if you needed them].
- Stress about time zone changes
You are all going to be tired and potentially irritable after an overnight flight with minimal sleep (if you do not change timezones, be psyched).You may be surprised at how well your child adjusts to the time change – our little ones may be more guided by the light/dark than we realize.A couple days of afternoon naps will do wonders for everyone’s mental well being.
- Forget your kid’s limits… And stretch your own as well Let’s say you’ve travelled to San Diego and really had your heart set on a trip to the zoo. But it’s a 5 hour investment of your family’s time. Maybe a trip to La Jolla to sit in the park and watch the seals for an hour is better for everyone involved.The point is, our little one’s attention span and energy level at this age can’t match the adults, so having a Plan B for your Big Excursion (or really at all times!) is encouraged/strongly recommended. The balance to that is, it’s OK to let them stay up stay up a little later or nap a little longer. Trying to stay on the exact schedule you would at home can be counterproductive to enjoying your vacation.