If there is one thing that really sets my soul on fire, it’s travel. I love experiencing those things I’ve only seen in pictures or read about in books, and even just the act of getting from Point A to Point B excites me. I was really REALLY afraid that having a bébé would put a hindrance on one of the things I know I need in my life to be satisfied, but Lucy has proved to be the loveliest travel companion. She has been on more flights in her year or so of life than I went on before I went away to college (that is, exactly one), and she’s also tagged along on some lengthy road trips and train rides.
Now, traveling with a toddler is not always butterflies, and there have been instances of Lucy screaming and rolling around on the floor. But there are some things I’ve incorporated into our travel that have made for a happier little, and therefore a happier mama. Here are some tidbits from our recent trip to Virginia for some dear friends’ wedding:
1. Busy bags: I made some of these before we went to Portland in August to prepare for keeping a young child busy on flights or train rides. I purchased some pencil bags from a dollar store and had a few activities that I knew Lucy might like in them: a sensory bag with sticky stretchy dinosaurs that light up and play dough, threading a shoe string through cut up foam rollers, some window clings, pom poms in and out of small jars, and stickers and paper. If you search “toddler busy bags” you will find millions of ideas, but some I looked through were here and here. NOTE: I still have to pay attention to Lucy while she completes these tasks, they just kept her from screaming for short increments of time!
2. Baby Wearing: Listen, people, if you don’t have a baby carrier and you’re about to go on a trip through an airport or other station, GET YOURSELF ONE OF THESE! Just kidding on that pushiness there, but if I didn’t have my Tula carrier on the trips we’ve taken…well I can’t even imagine an end to that sentence. Wearing Lucy has been invaluable to keeping my hands free and ensuring she is safely close by. I mean there’s no way I could have walked the .9 miles to my favorite restaurant in Portland while also carrying a backpack and car seat without my Tula. INVALUABLE!
3. As much activity for Toddler as possible: When my hands are free and provided there’s not too many people, I like to let Lucy walk around as much as possible. She’s in that intense gross motor phase where she just needs to be in motion, so the more she can stretch those muscles, the easier she is to handle when we have to be cramped in tight quarters. In fact, one of my favorite new travel past times has been looking for cool venues where Lucy can roam or taking long walks near our quarters. On our trip to Virginia, the scenery was so lush and green and lovely and Lucy was able to walk around and explore some breathtaking places: the beautiful estate, Stoneleigh Estate, where our friends’ wedding was held and a gorgeous vineyard, Hamlet Vineyards, built in an old barn near an old, gigantic brick house. Finally, I try to let her walk with me in airports on layovers (again, if not too crowded).
I’m no expert, and I’m sure as this little one grows older different tricks will emerge as valuable during travel, but these are some things that have allowed me to fulfill that wanderlust with little one in tow. What do you do to support your young child during long trips, especially plane rides? Where have you traveled with baby on board that you might recommend?