Thursday, December 14, 2017

Traveling with a Toddler!

We took our first family vacation in August! After a quick stop in Dallas to see my family and celebrate Henley's 2nd birthday we jetted off to Detroit > Ann Arbor > New Buffalo > Chicago > Dallas! Along the way we visited small towns like the quaint Marshall, Michigan.

I captured some of our adventures in the video below! Hopefully, it shows off how magical it felt. 

Now for traveling tips! 
  • Don't bring all the things. For clothing, I packed mix and match basics. For entertainment, I downloaded children's books on my Kindle (Henley's favorite is Catch the Moon) and brought crayons, paper, and stickers. You can rent things such as car seats and strollers, however, we decided to bring our car seat and used this carrier. For a stroller, we purchased a $20 umbrella stroller at our first stop.
  • Talk it up! The month before our first flight, we spend evenings airplane hunting and even arrived at the airport early (a tip in and of itself) to show her the planes taking off. 
  • The Visitor Center is your friend. We stopped into the Marshall Visitor Center and it was a life-saver. In addition to water + a clean bathroom, they gave us coupons, a bag of goodies, and recommended two local, kid-friendly restaurants.  
  • Airbnb it up! We rented a beautiful home in Ann Arbor with space, a garden, and chickens in the backyard. A chunk of our trip was spent relaxing as a family, playing, reading, and even cooking meals. Plus we were able to wash laundry!
  • Kid-friendly activities. Find out what the town has for children, whether it's a children's museum or local park, make each day include something just for them. On a related note...
  • You know your child. My daughter is spirited, curious, and tactile. The Hands-On Museum was a perfect spot for her, an art museum not so much. I made one afternoon more painful than needed because I ignored what I knew. 
  • Be normal. Our daughter says goodnight to the moon each evening. We made that routine happen. It helped make nighttime in a different place a little less scary.
  • Remember your child is a person. Ask their opinion on dinner, activities, etc. We sat outside when eating because it's what she wanted. Being consulted makes her feel included and less likely to become overwhelmed.
  • Be empathetic. Children are in new places, trying new things. Naps might be missed. Dinner might be delayed. There are so many scenarios threatening to throw your child off. Do your best and then be kind with yourself, others, and especially your child. 
  • Lastly, if you only take one tip away take this - Reset your expectations. Trips aren't about everything you saw or did but how you felt. That's what you'll remember. Plan to be surprised, joyful, and present.

What are your favorite tips? 

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