Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Have toddler, will travel

This past weekend, we decided to embark on our first real road trip with our 14-month-old son. We’ve taken very short overnight trips before, but this was our first time spending more than one night away from home. And we figured, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it right. So we took a bite out of the Big Apple and headed down the highway to New York City for the weekend.

I will admit that I was really nervous about this. Travelling with a toddler requires a serious amount of planning, packing and patience. When we visit other cities, my husband and I like to be on the go. We don’t stop to eat; we grab pizza by the slice and say to hell with our diets. We leave our hotel room early and come back late at night. We research and map our itinerary and do as much as we possibly can in the short time we have. This just doesn’t work quite the same way when you have a little person with you. Because that little person has needs!
So here are the pros of travelling with a child under the age of 2:

• If you’re driving there, you can drive at night and they’ll sleep through the trip. That was how we got our trip off to a good start. We were zombies in the morning, but he was fresh as a daisy and that’s what really matters.
• If you’re flying, they don’t pay for a ticket (hurray!)
• You don’t have to stop for repeated bathroom breaks, because diapers are good for a few hours. However, you need to find nice clean bathrooms where you can change diapers easily as needed, but fortunately that didn’t prove to be a problem.
• They still take naps, so if your child is good to nap in their stroller, you get to do your own thing while they snooze. Thank goodness my son naps well on the move. He even slept through Times Square of all places! If your child needs a bed or crib and a quiet room for their naps, I’m afraid this doesn’t help you.
• Many, many people will tell you how adorable your child is, and then will be more likely to hold doors, elevators or move out of the way for you. But that’s not everyone, that’s for sure!
Here are the cons of travelling with a child under the age of 2: 
• The stuff! You can’t travel light – you need to pack diapers, wipes, snacks, sippy cups, blankets, a change of clothes in case of emergencies, three different kinds of hats… the list goes on. We took a bold risk in not packing any kind of toys or books for when we were out, but I knew these would only end up on the dirty NY sidewalk so we didn’t bother.
• Yes, they nap, but before the nap usually comes some whining and if you’re unlucky, a meltdown. Cue frustration and public embarrassment now.
• Grown-up activities like shopping, museums, and eating in nice restaurants are a challenge. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but it’s not easy.
• Feeding them requires serious planning and strategy. Depending on what your child is now eating, you may not be able to feed them restaurant food, so you’ll have to pack meals, snacks, milk, bibs, wipes, spoons, cups, etc, etc, etc… That may have been the most stressful part of our trip for me. Especially when he was refusing to drink his milk and water and I was worrying that he would get dehydrated.
• Being stuck in a stroller for three days was not my son’s idea of a good time. We had to stop often to let him out to walk around and stretch his legs. Then we had to stay on top of him so he wouldn’t touch garbage or eat gravel… which he attempted.
• Travelling with a child who needs diaper changes, naps, meals at specific times and an early bedtime… well, it slows you down. Plain and simple. You just can’t accomplish as much as you would have otherwise.

That being said, it was a great long weekend. It was so nice to spend some quality time together as a family, to get out of town and be in a different place. We all had a great time and this weekend will stay with me as a wonderful memory for a long time to come.  They say a change is as good as a rest, and this weekend’s change of scenery was a great mental rest, even if it was physically exhausting! 

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