Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do It While They're Young!

Last year I wrote some tips on How To Enjoy Solo Travel With an Infant but this year I think the best title for an updated version would be How To Survive Solo Travel With a Toddler. If I can just say one thing, I say travel with your child while they're young. As young as possible! It is just sooooo much easier.

The drawback to travel with an infant is the sheer amount of STUFF they need - tons of diapers, numerous changes of clothes (maybe some extra clothes for you!), car seat, stroller, carrier, diaper bag, etc. However, they are light and easy to carry. They are comparatively quieter when they cry and they don't really move from wherever you set them down. Being small, they can also be put down to sleep on a plane seat or any chair really. Also, depending on the age, you don't even need to carry baby food for them.

There are, in my opinion, more drawbacks to travel with a toddler. One, they never stop moving! Two, they never stop moving. Three...you get the picture. That curious mind combined with tiny searching fingers and feet on the go and oh my! The fun never ends.

Now I'm not saying don't travel with your toddler. I think the more you do it and the calmer or more prepared you are for it, the better. I believe I am fortunate to have such a good trooper of a toddler. He doesn't really complain at all in planes, he just gets bored having to stay in such a limited space. In the end, you know your baby best and you both have limited patience. Don't try to do too much in one day. If you can break up a trip into smaller bits, it will probably be easier on you both.

One gadget that made my recent plane trip to Barbados much easier for toddler and me was the CARES harness. The harness requires you to purchase a separate seat for your child on a plane (or train) but it is so much safer for your child than sitting on your lap and in the end, more comfortable for both of you. It also allows you to go use the toilet by yourself and know that your toddler is well-secured and not able to get into trouble. My little guy sat in his seat watching cartoons (thank goodness for cartoons on planes!) as we landed and I didn't have to worry about him bouncing around in my lap.

Using the CARES harness means you don't have to lug around a car seat, so aside from a small stroller, I didn't carry anything bulky with me. However, if you know you will need your car seat at your destination, there are some ingenious ideas out there, from building your own rolling transporter, to straps that attach a car seat to a suitcase. Whatever your needs are, there are some creative solutions.

I also don't bother with commercial baby food; I find most airlines provide something a toddler will accept to eat.

On a positive note, travel time sure passes a whole lot faster when you're occupied making sure your kid doesn't touch or eat something they're not supposed to or harass other passengers!

So in that vein, I wish anyone attempting to travel with a toddler much patience and energy to run around after those little bundles of constant movement and don't forget to have fun. It all passes by so quickly :)
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