Planning a family vacation soon and traveling with a toddler? Continue reading to learn about 10 lessons I learned from our first trip.
This April we went to Disney with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, father-in-law and niece. Both the girls were about 19 months so aka toddlers that won’t sit still with a mind of their own! When they went home, we traveled to Daytona Beach for two extra days to enjoy the beach environment before heading back home ourselves.
While my in-laws have traveled often with my niece, Brinley, we had yet to embark on a family adventure. Overall the vacation went great so we’re not deterred from doing it again, BUT there were a few lessons we learned along the way!
- Check with the hotel about bathrooms having tubs. For the Daytona portion of our trip, we had a nice stay at a Hyatt which was right on the beach, had free parking, free wifi and free breakfast. They happily provided us with a pack n play for Brielle to sleep in but while there were all these great amenities, I didn’t think to ask about the bathroom situation. We booked a king size bedroom and when we walked in I realizd there was no bathtub, only a shower! We were easily able to switch to a room with two queen beds and a tub but it was a lesson learned to ask up front! Brielle enjoyed many baths in the two days we were there since we often went from beach to pool to tub!
- Write a grocery list before you leave. We were lucky to travel by plane on a 7:30 am flight the first day when Brielle was still her cheery self. But after the two hour flight, getting the luggage and the rental car, the girl was wiped and ready for a nap. Since we wanted to hit up the grocery store before joining the family at the Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas, I was happy that we wrote a grocery list ahead of time so I could easily run into Publix and pick up all the items needed while Derek stayed with her in the car so she could nap.
- Nothing is kid friendly. You read that and say “duh” right? Well I do too. But it’s just crazy how spoiled you get from a good babyproofed situation and how tiring it can be to stay, eat or play somewhere when your child is free to completely explore. For us, the second hotel bathroom was a real spot of exploration. A glass sliding door = a toddler’s delight! No toilet locks = lots of lids going up and down. We eventually were able to butt the pack n play to block the bathroom to keep her in our bedroom area a little longer but sometimes we couldn’t wait to go outside just to get her out of our room!
- Have lots of airplane entertainment, but understand nothing may work! You pack the books, the snacks, the toys, a crayon wallet, and those gel window clings that were so popular at home. You buy some new accessories they’ve never seen before and some familiar favorites, all hoping they’ll entertain your little one for a two hour flight. Nope. For us, Brielle was more confused/concerned about every step we were doing that first day and was more into observing than engaging in all the toys I brought for her. Overall, the flight experiences went well, I just thought she’d be antsier than she was and want toys.
- Have the kids try on their new clothes before packing. Remember all those cute clothes we bought at the Carter’s store? Brielle was 19.5 months when we traveled so I figured she’d be 24 month clothes by then. Wrong! At least when it came to the bottoms. Miss Brielle has always been a tiny girl, being 5 days late and still only weighing 6 lbs 9 ounces and staying on the small scale since then. Most of the shorts I brought were a little big and 18 months sizes would’ve been better. She even had a little incident of her bottoms falling down in the middle of an Olive Garden. How embarrassing!
- Airplanes have drop down diaper changing tables in the bathrooms! When Brielle assumed the familiar squatting position about 45 minutes into our flight home, we both looked at each other with fear. Who would change her in that cramped little bathroom? I stepped up and offered to give it a whirl. When I walked in, stood her on the toilet bowl lid and asked her aloud “how are we going to do this?” I looked up to see that they do in fact have a drop down diaper changing station right above the toilet seat! It was actually pretty spacious and worked out for this much needed change.
- Stick to a normal sleep/nap schedule as much as possible. Anyone with a toddler knows this theory to be true as toddlers love routines! We did our best to stick to the normal sleep/nap times but towards the end of the trip, she was getting thrown off to the point of having a 2 hour delay in going back to bed once we were home.
- Don’t expect to eat with your spouse. For the first part of our vacation, you’d often find the dads running around with the girls while us moms ate and then vice versa. I knew she’d be a little antsy at restaurant tables since we didn’t have her favorite high chair with the tray, but I didn’t expect EVERY meal to be that way.
- You’ll have to go to bed when the toddler goes to bed. If you chose a regular hotel room and not a suite, you’ll have to go to bed when they go to bed since they’ll see any tvs or bright cell phone lights you have illuminated in the corner.
- Toddlers are excited to come home but may also be thrown off their schedule for a few days. Brielle got so excited to pull up to our house after 7 days away and ran over to her familiar toys in the living room. We ate dinner (a little later than normal but not too far off) but she didn’t go to sleep for almost an hour and a half past the normal time! It took a few days to revert back to a whatnot normal bedtime hour. The next day daycare did say she was super friendly and happy, which I can only assume meant she was excited to be back with friends and the familiarity of home.