Even though it’s now a bazillion times harder (packing for two is just the BEGINNING), having a baby didn’t cure the travel bug. So, when you must drag a now-toddler first on a 13-hour road trip, then a 2-leg plane journey, I hope you find these ideas save you at least a couple Xanax (because we all know we need more than PATIENCE to cope with a small megalomaniac).
1. Bag of Goodies – place an easily-accessible basket of goodies next to the car seat.
B) fake wallet full of loyalty cards (a clear winner)
C) sound-maker toys
D) wooden “thinker” toys or single-piece/all-in-one puzzles
E) an empty wipe package full with cut-cloth squares (it was also a winner! As long as you don’t mind picking them up and putting them back in every time).
D) crayons and hard-back notepad (the crayons themselves eventually become entertainment…biting, eating, snapping in two…)
E) snacks, snacks, and more snacks! As many different finger-foods as you can muster! I liked sandwich crackers, pretzel sticks, seed-bread, veggie pouches and the occasional sucker. For a month, at each visit to the store, I’d put another snack in the cart.
3. IPad with his or her fave flick – I don’t allow games yet (I have weird phobias) but I will let him watch a few non-lame movies. We bought and downloaded his fave movie “the Boxtrolls” (14.99 – good thing we just needed one!), and he was cool and calm drinking it in a few 20-min intervals at a time.
When you are flying solo with a toddler, or even with help, two plane rides and a layover can seem like a death wish! And it could be…but this is what made my experience actually pretty darn pleasant.
1. Family restrooms – your own private safe-haven to refresh/relieve yourself, change diapers, sanitize, and just play for a few minutes in peace! He liked climbing on the “baby seat” and the changing table, and washing his hands.
2. Eat – my toddler and I are used to restaurants (he’s not well-behaved, but I know what he’ll be like and what he usually needs), so it seemed natural to grab dinner during the layover. It fed us, took up time, and he made lots of friends with the servers. Plus, I got to have an adult beverage (tequila only – the sole alcohol that doesn’t make me feel sluggish and depressed)!
3. Yoga – there’s plenty of open space in the airport, so movement like yoga, stretching, stomping, dancing, etc helps get the wiggles out before the plane!
5. On the plane – it’s hard to keep your toddler entertained on the plane. I found “can you find the ___” game using the flight magazines to be helpful! Snacks, too. And the iPad. It really is like the only option for a cramped plane ride with a hyper 20-month-old.
Hope this helps you prepare for your parent-tot trip! And rest assured that all this preparation pays off, and that the hard moments where you feel like breaking down are at least twice as infrequent as seeing your child experience a new place, and new memories.