Traveling with a Toddler
I like to say "Pride be Gone" when I travel with my son. There will be moments where they eat something you would normally shun, moments where you lose your ultra-cool, and moments when all rules are cast aside and life truly begins. That is traveling with children. I have road tripped every year for ten-hour drives to North Dakota with him, and broken every rule I have on those trips, but before me stood the greatest mama-fear...the airplane.
My baby is four years old now. He's cute, funny, loves farts and all things gross. I'm pretty darn lucky though, he's sweet. That's huge when it comes to survival as a mama. One day I realized I hadn't taken a true vacation (not including road trips to visit family, the family cabin, or funerals) in nearly six years and my son had never been on one, so a plan was hatched. Being four I didn't consider him or I ready for the lines and waiting and chaos that is Disney, so instead we booked our flight to Florida for a long weekend on the beach in Daytona Beach. Here are some of the great discoveries we had along the way.
1 Fly Cheap
Flying on a budget airline like Spirit, saves you money, but you only get a under-seat carryon for free. So I found a rolling one on Amazon, and it worked great, fit right under the seat and rolled smoothly. I packed clothes for my son and I in there for our trip. Then his dinosaur backpack was for books, his iPad and snacks. I also packed him a water bottle, so once through security I fill it with the water fountain and save a fortune on bottled water.
2 No Plans
I have learned this lesson with my son, there are no such things as plans. The more you push to meet a timeline or series of events, the less you will enjoy your vacation and the less your child will too. So my only plans on this vacation were: beach and eat. That's it. It is so liberating to be that free. No where to go, no lines to stand in, pure freedom. We still ended up playing on the beach, building sandcastles, lizard hunting, seagull chasing, eating on the pier, and playing mini golf, but not once did we have to have a tantrum because I "felt" I needed to rush him. Instead we just played and floated and enjoyed the simplicity of a food truck parked right there on A1A. We sat and watched a lizard as it watched us. I got to see the world through the eyes of my child, because we simply had the time to do it.
At home I am a Stingy-Screen-Time-Mom. He didn't even watch a screen until he was two years old. I was much more interested in playing and experiencing the world with him than numbing his mind in front of a screen. At age four he still only gets a small amount of screen-time, however on vacation, pride be gone, I loaded up his iPad with new movies and he got to watch movies on the entire flight if he wanted. That isn't a moment to be the "perfect mom" with the "perfect lessons on life" that is the moment where you are on vacation and you let them have entertainment and let the other passengers have peace. Ain't no shame in that.
You can check your carseat at the gate for free. Yes I said free. So that is amazing. All you need to do is lug it from your car, through security to your gate. Sounds easy right? Well it can be with this sweet carseat travel bag. Takes that oddly shaped, heavy carseat and makes it into a backpack. Much easier for carrying and it is padded so it helps protect it when the airline chucks it under the plane. This was a huge lifesaver and a back saver.
5 Room Service
Just do it. Seriously. We ordered some pasta and bread and had supper in bed while watching a movie. You don't get to do that every day, so we did it. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip, snuggled close watching a movie in a room I don't have to clean. Now that is living!