Let me start by saying, (and I think all parents can relate to this, even my own parents I think), that there are no vacations for parents. Children have vacations, single people have vacations, maybe even some newly formed couples have vacations. Parents, don’t have vacations- some parents however, have public holidays and weekends and this strange urge to experience new things, therefore, they brave what is to come, and ‘Travel’. Yep, some parents, travel. Because, they’re curious, because their inner child wants to continue to be amazed and wowed even at the age of 35 and because, that one moment of joy experienced with your family, that one moment of seeing something breathtakingly beautiful for the first time, even in 35 years, makes all the 95% of the remaining time of dealing with your toddler, worth it. Lol!
So, if you’re one of those ‘bitten-by-the-travel-bug’ parents, here are the 3 things I learnt about traveling with a toddler (16 month old to be precise), from my first hand experience of the long weekend getaway to a village called ‘Wetton’ in Peak District, UK:
- Lesson learnt #1: If you’re doing a road trip and have a toddler like mine (meaning- will not sit still in the car seat for more than 5 mins, unless she is sleeping), then, do not plan a drive longer than the time you can constantly sing songs and engage them with videos on your phone or show them a ‘Truck!’ everytime one passes by. Another tip is to leave during their nap time- that’s what we did, we left in the morning around her nap time, so half an hour into the drive, she slept off- thank the stars above! The rest of the way, mommy had to become a joker..ahem. We haven’t had the courage to plan road trip beyond 3.5 hours I’m afraid (and that includes stops)- so if you have done a longer trip, I’d love some tips! Also, be prepared for at least one stop for lunch or a break at the services (we stopped at the Cambridge Services and it was really good, with a play area for kids), and for pee breaks, if either of the passengers has a weak bladder like me, and is not the one wearing a diaper 😀
- Lesson learnt #2: The place you stay at, will be the most important decision you should make or plan for. It should have a kitchen, or a full time available cook (or a partner converted into a full time cook..lol), really good play areas, as many distractions as possible to have your child entertained, so you don’t have to carry or pack too many of their favorite toys- which could be all of them. The cottage we had booked- Halls holiday cottage was just exactly what we had wished for. It had the most amazing views to wake up to, a built in kitchen, fridge, oven, microoven- the works, a huge couch with a TV (yes TV!!! I hadn’t seen one in 5 months!! lol), 1.5 beds, a bathroom with a bathtub, utensils, an outdoor play area with swings and slides, and an indoor play barn with all sorts of toys you could imagine! I think more than anyone else, our daughter loved the place and the play areas! All she wanted to do was be outside and play- that did create a bit of a problem when we had to bring her in to bathe, eat and sleep, some expected resistance- but that meant, she was totally enjoying it!! My favorite part of the cottage was the view from the window and that couch in front of the TV!! lol..I’d retire/chill with my drink on that couch, talk to my husband and watch TV (Ok yes, I might be a TV addict) when the toddler went to bed and then I’d wake up to the beautiful view from the window to have my morning cup of coffee. Just awesome!
- Lesson learnt #3: As I mentioned earlier, there are no vacations for parents and you’ve got to be practical and not plan like the traveler that you used to be, pre-baby times. Now pre-baby traveling meant, packing light, living in hostels, and spending as little time at the hotel/hostel as possible- backpacking and eating out mostly, experiencing the local art, culture and cuisine as much as possible. Fast forward to current post-baby era. Traveling now means packing literally everything for the toddler- many many many clothes, socks, diapers, bibs, bottles, formula, snacks, sunscreen, hats, toys, books, medicines, her favorite pillows, her towel- you get the picture (the parents’ bags in contrast still contained as little as possible- because who has the patience really?), living in a luxury cottage and trying to spend as much time indoors with a strict nap time/meal time and bed time routine and trying to experience the bare minimum you can get away with, without ruining the toddler’s patience. Lol! So, although there were like a gazillion things to see in this village, many walks and many cafes and pubs to hang out and have meals at- we restricted ourselves to just exploring some walks around the village, eating one meal at the cafe and one meal with some drinks at the local pub, and we weren’t disappointed at all:) To add to it, even the toddler wasn’t disappointed because she got to see Moo Moo (cows), Baa Baa(the sheeps), and tuck tuck (the chickens) up close, and we also managed to get her to nap during one of our meals at the cafe! win win, do I hear? 😀 This does not mean however, that we went tantrum free- there were moments, when it was the battle of wills and the toddler trying to get her way by ‘lying prostrate anywhere she seemed fit’ and embarrass her parents..lol..sometimes she won, sometimes we won..;)
To wrap up, we had a lovely trip- it was tiring at times, I will admit to that, and there were times when I wished maybe this wasn’t such a great idea, but one look at the breath taking views, the morning coffees, the laughter on my daughter’s face, the content in my husband’s face- made it totally worth the trip 🙂 Has anyone else experienced similar conundrums while traveling with their toddlers? Would love to hear your stories and experiences too 🙂