We're a package deal.
There was no question Beep was coming with us to Florida, but traveling with a toddler can strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned traveler. We were going to have twelve hours of travel to get there, two fast and furious days packed with parties, sightseeing, and family visits, and then another marathon travel day to get home. We would literally take planes, trains, and automobiles.
Everyone stresses about the Travel What Ifs, and I am no exception. Allow me to elaborate:
- What if she has a major meltdown on the plane and I have to be that parent? You know: the one with the screaming kid inflicting misery on 100 adults trapped in close proximity?
- What if I can't handle all the baby gear by myself and I look totally incompetent?
- What if she gets sick far from home?
- What if she has a diaper blowout?
- What if the flights get screwed up and we are stranded until I run out of drinks/snacks/diapers/patience/or we have to sleep on the airport floor?
- What if our seatmates aren't nice about sitting next to a toddler?
Beep was always a great traveler as an infant, but toddlerhood changes lots of things... Her ability to deal with the confinement, long travel days, and the quick turnaround was a big unknown. I'm nothing if not
It was Beep or bust.
Due to frequent flyer mile issues, Cabbage was flying separately from us, so Beep and I were on our own for our plane rides. Fortunately he was able to help get our luggage to the ticket counter, which was a huge bonus.
What is it like to travel with a toddler? See for yourself.
It takes more time. But then there are the unexpectedly entertaining modes of transport.
A baby traveling thousands of miles requires a lot of gear- car seat, stroller, diapers, snacks, etc... Happily, the stroller will carry not only all this gear, but also your own bag. And it can be checked for no cost, right at the plane. Happy day! TSA was excellent about helping handle the gear at the security checkpoints, too.
Airports have wide open spaces. An empty baggage claim plus a ball from home made the perfect playground.
Hollering "Hi!" and waving at new arrivals became the new favorite pastime. (Many, many people did not say hi back. I tried to make up for it.)
Once on the plane, a window seat was magical.
A new book became a lifesaver when I really needed it. Like, for example, five minutes into the flight.
Eventually, my overstimulated, confined, desperately tired baby degenerated into a squirmy, fussy tyrant. She refused to nap until she pretty much collapsed...
...About the time I spotted the skyline of our destination.
While on vacation, napping will often be accomplished on the run. Based on empirical evidence, we confirmed a carseat nap is not equivalent to a crib nap.
Whenever possible we let Beep stretch her legs and burn off energy. I will note that did not always make it easy to get her back in the carseat. When she'd had enough of it all, I hopped in the back seat and played with her until she nodded off or we arrived at our destination.
In the end, we made it all work and had a great time as a family. This bottom line is: the gear was just stuff to manage; the schedules were juggled and figured out; the inconveniences passed, as did the fussy times.
We adapted to Beep in every way possible, and she in turn showed us her own adaptability. Along the way she revealed small joys we would have otherwise missed as adults and enriched our trip more than we could have imagined.
Did you ever hesitate to travel with your child? What were your favorite memories from traveling with your baby? What are your best tips for traveling with a baby?
P.S. Stay tuned for a look at the baby gear we packed. I'll give you the rundown on what was worth taking and what will be staying home next time.