Last week we traveled a total of 1581 miles (though this is a rough estimate, pretty sure it was a lot more!) We packed up our family of three and headed on a mini road trip down the East Coast. I've taken this route many times before. To see friends in NYC, family in Pennsylvania, once as freshman in college for a trip to the Outer Banks and numerous times down to D.C. to see our best friends. I was sure that there was nothing on this trip that would capture my interest, I mean it's just been done before!
Well here's the thing. This time we were traveling with Jonathan, all of this was new to HIM. In total he visited six new states and had LOTS of new experiences, like seeing the Manhattan skyline for the first time or basking in the Virginia sunshine. (I'll be honest here and say that all he really cared about were the new bird friends he made but a Mom can dream right?!) One of the beautiful things of being a parent is watching as your child experiences the world for the first time. It was pretty amazing to share with Jonathan this beautiful country, see some new things ourselves and build memories together. So how does one travel to eight different states and over 1500 miles with a toddler in toe... and survive?! Lots of patience, lots of tickles and lots of food. It was an experience to say the least and for the most part we have to applaud our little trooper who rarely complained, even when being stuck in the car for over six hours at one point. We traveled a lot, we saw a lot and we slept a little. I'm kinda tired just looking at this map...
Here are a few things I learned a long the way :
1. New Toys. This tip is all in thanks to my bestie Tricia, who has given me MUCH Mommy wisdom over the years. Before every trip she buys her kiddos a new toy. Nothing big or fancy, just something new, a special treat for them to enjoy on the trip. We've taken this approach and adapted it just slightly. We'll buy Jonathan a new toy (small and practical) before the trip and also introduce OLD toys that he hasn't played with in a while. For the most part this will entertain him for a while, provides a few giggles and gives me time to brainstorm how to keep him entertained next;).
2. Spacing. On our trip we never went any distance that was longer than five hours or so. That seemed to be Jonathan's limit and quite frankly, ours too. I'm so glad we broke up the trip this way. Not only did we get to see more of the various stops along the way, it gave us opportunities to stretch our legs, run around with Jonathan and explore the world around us. Now, if we could only have predicted all the CONSTRUCTION along the way...
3. Food. Our little boy is a BEAST. He's all muscle. In fact he's in the 97% percentile for height and weight and eats everything in sight. He's a non stop eating machine. In every day life it's pretty adorable but on a road trip when your options for food are well, less than desirable, it can be quite the challenge. We decided to pack a cooler and keep it fresh with ice and various things that our babe loves. Apple sauce, yogurt, milk. I also kept another bag close by with dry foods like cookies, food pouches, and wafters. Keeping Jonathan distracted with food was a HUGE help in insuring that he was happy and well nourished.
4. Nap Time. If we could manage, we tried our best to keep Jonathan up until we got into the car. It didn't work every time but for the most part, if we played our cards right, we could get Jonathan to nap in the car, giving us grown ups some much needed down time to zone out the car window;):). We'd make sure to keep him active, running around throughout the day so that, fingers crossed, he might sleep in the car on the way back!! Scheduling when we would be in the car around his nap time was a lifesaver on this trip!
5. Do it Together. I'll keep it real. There was a lot of screaming too. Lots of food throwing. Lots of toy throwing. Jonathan might have even chewed through a board book at one point....(Dave and I are still impressed at this feat of bruteness!) But these were the moments that I just had to let it be. It was bound to happen on a trip this far and when those moments came, I would take a deep breath and look at Dave, who helped me to keep it together. It truly was a partnership traveling with Jonathan, keeping him happy, safe and entertained. I don't know how someone could do this on their own, I certainly couldn't!! Dave was the glue that held the three of together!!Side note, speaking of the hubs, Dave was my rock throughout the whole trip. I couldn't be more thankful to him for driving the WHOLE way (he insisted!) and using his vacation time to explore with our family while giving me time to grow my business. Man, that guy is the best.
I know these are just a few simple tricks BUT I hope that maybe a tip or two was helpful to at least ONE person!! And I hope that you're encouraged to know traveling doesn't stop after baby!! It might look slightly different (read: a car covered in mushy peas...) but still the adventures go on!! The best part is that now you get to experience through the fresh eyes of a little one, a truly beautiful thing to witness. We have a lot of traveling to do together as a family and I'm pretty darn excited to see more of this world with my two favorite boys!!
If you have any questions about traveling with a toddler feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!! Happy Traveling!! I'll be recapping more of our trip tomorrow so don't forget to stop by!!