Saturday, November 4, 2017

Travelling With A Toddler

Posted by theboat On November 04, 2017 3 comments
How does a toddler affect travel? We've stayed in seven different hotels in the past three months with a toddler, and I learned a few things that I didn't expect.

Background

The travel consisted of three different trips:
  • a one-night trip to a city ~1.5 hours away that we drove to
  • another one-night trip to a city ~1.5 hours away that we drove to
  • an 8-night trip spanning 5 different hotels in different cities that involved two cross-country flights

Lesson #1 - Make the hotel like home

In the first trip, he (toddler) was extremely excited in the hotel. He ran around the room for a couple of hours and giggled constantly. He blew past his bedtime and didn't actually fall asleep until ~3 hours after his normal bed time.

We chalked this up to him just being excited about something different.

In the next trip, we arrived at the hotel earlier and he did the same thing. However...when his normal bedtime rolled around, he started asking to go home. He seemed really confused, and kept asking mommy to take him home. He then threw a tantrum and refused to sleep. We were completely unprepared.

For the long, 8-night trip, we prepared much better. It isn't the same as home obviously, but we maintained his night-time ritual as well as we could:
  • he ate supper ~2-3 hours before bed
  • he ate a snack consisting of fruit (usually grapes) and milk ~1 hour before bed
  • he played with us while eating the snack and for a bit after it
  • we brushed his teeth together about 15 minutes before bed
  • his mom put him to bed and I waited in the bathroom to keep from distracting him since she puts him to bed at home
Further, we tried to recreate his bedroom. Lights were off once he went to bed, screens weren't visible to him, and we brought all of the stuffed animals and toys from his crib.

His schedule was slightly disrupted because travel breaks the routine, but this experience went much better than the previous two ones for which we were unprepared. He went to bed close to his normal bedtime and slept through the night every night of the trip.

Lesson #2 - Use Southwest to fly

I historically have not used Southwest. Even though I'm in Texas, the rates have typically been higher than other airlines for the flights I've taken, and the inability to pick seats annoyed me. Two big things make it more attractive than other airlines for travelling with a toddler though:
  • parents with young children get to board early so they can sit together and they do not have to pay for early boarding
  • you get two, free checked bags per ticket which means you can bring suitcases full of his toys, stuffed animals, etc. to make it feel more like home
It also worked out for us in that Southwest had direct flights to and from our location, and you'll want direct flights if possible if you're flying with a toddler.

Lesson #3 - Bring candy on the plane

We flew when he was six months old, and we gave him a bottle during takeoff and landing to force him to suck and ease pressure on his ears. Now that he's a toddler, we couldn't do that. However...he loves dum dums, and those worked just as well. Depending on what your toddler likes, if you can find a candy that he can suck on to keep him calm during takeoff and landing, that can be really helpful.

Lesson #4 - Car seats are considered oversized baggage

We rented a car at the airport, so we brought a car seat with us. We checked it with our luggage, and got really confused when it didn't show up in baggage claim. Apparently it goes to the oversized one, so you have to get your car seat there.

Lesson #5 - Move a mattress to the floor if you need to

In most of our rooms, we had either two double or two queen beds. Unfortunately, they're generally on box springs which makes them dangerously high for someone used to sleeping in a crib. Some hotels offer cribs or other sleeping options for small children, but I wouldn't rely on that. You could also bring your own, but that seems awful in the airport, and you'll probably already have more than you can comfortably carry.

An alternative available when you're stuck in a situation with only adult beds is to simply move the mattress to the floor to prevent injuries if the toddler rolls off the mattress.

What was my favorite moment from travelling with him?

One of the trips involved going through Louisville, KY. We watched a few horse races at Churchill Downs while we were there. It's pretty huge and he loves animals so we thought he'd be amazed seeing the horses.

The race started and the horses went by and it was great and everything, but he didn't care. A few seconds later, the ambulance that follows them went by, and he screamed 'FIRETRUCK! FIRETRUCK! WHEOOWHEOOWHEOOWHEOO' and it was great. Kids are fun.



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