Sooooo…..we both survived a 6-day Cali-style vacation! It is definitely ‘more than a notion’ (as my good good girlfriend says) to travel with a toddler. Then, I traveled with him by myself. There were moments when I thought, “Ok, seriously, what was I thinking?!…This is too much…Ok, I can do this.” Unlike some other more seasoned
parents I know, we have not taken a real vacation with the kid due to the hubs’ summer schedule. I jumped right in and I now know what to anticipate and how to plan for the many adventures along the way.
Shortly after we arrived in California we watched the events unfold related to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. As much as I did not want to have to explain to my 4-year old (in simple terms and non-graphic terms) how these men died, I had to. I could not lie to him. After we watched CNN coverage of Philando Castile’s death here’s how the conversation went:
Tre: Mommy what happened?
Me: A man died.
Tre: What man? Who?
Me: Philando Castile.
Tre: (With a puzzled look) What happened…how did he die?
Me: A police officer killed him.
Me: I don’t know.
We then watched some of the news coverage, listened to opposing views from people from different backgrounds as only CNN can do, and sat in silence for a short while. The sadness mixed with confusion and anger my girlfriend and I felt was enough to make us depressed. I had to pull myself together and realize this was the second day of our trip and we had several days ahead of us. So, we journeyed on all the while realizing communities of people were mourning and hurting in a way that continued to touch home. My husband is an Black man and we are raising an Black male child. Events of the past few years- Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Missouri, and Freddie Gray just a few miles down the street from us, remind me that the journey he is facing will be drastically different than mine. The potential for what his life could be both excites and frightens me.
So once we got back to our ‘regularly schedule vacation’ we ended up having an AWESOME time! We were able to have several ‘firsts’ together and Tre had lots of new
experiences. From his first memorable plane ride to the infamous airport security dance to the beach and riding in his first Uber!
So…here are my ‘Toddler Traveling Lessons Learned’ (in no particular order):
- Be prepared for the unexpected- Everything may not go exactly according to your plan so be open to changes along the way. If you are a master planner and hate when things go awry…maybe traveling with your kid isn’t such a good idea!
- Find was to make an ‘adventure’ out of simple things. I can call a sightseeing/shopping trip to yet another non-toy store an ‘adventure’ and it will buy me another 5…maybe 6 minutes of him not saying, “Are we going to another store?”
- Let them run, be in the sun, get in the pool, get dirty, walk around town- let them get the little kid energy out so they’ll sleep and you can have some time to yourself! Those that know me know I am all about a nap, but if it is a toss up between an earlier night for him that can equal more adult time for me- I opt for wearing him out!
- Don’t be afraid to send out an SOS. Unfortunately, I failed this lesson. My girlfriend we were visiting in CA offered to give me some free time and I did not take her up on it. In hindsight I will never do that again. Lesson learned and forever remembered.
- Pack snacks. Buy snacks. Have snacks! There were moments when the snacks I packed saved my life! Just when he needed a little something to hold him until our next meal I whipped out those crackers or piece of fruit from the hotel and said a quiet “Thank You” to God!
- Have the patience of a saint. I don’t know about your kid(s), but Tre can talk…I mean talk! I like to think I am a seriously patient person and even my patience was tested.
- Don’t forget to laugh and enjoy the moment. Relax while you are away and enjoy each other. Try new things. Eat new foods. Listen to yet another made up story or question about where we were. Explore new places. Do something you’ve never done before…and that you can do with a kid!
- Take pictures. We all have a smartphone right? So use it! I took lots of pictures and put together a photo album for him so that he (and I) could remember and relive the trip. It will forever be a part of his memories.
Thinking back on our California adventure I would definitely do it again and the only changes I would make is I would insert the hubs and take my girlfriend up on her offer to give me a little free time. I look forward to future family vacations. I get it now- the excitement (and subsequent exhaustion) my parents felt when we took trips to Virginia and Myrtle Beach or to the South for family reunions. I have lasting memories of these trips as a kid and I can only hope we create the same for Tre. Here’s to wishing you great summer family vacations! –Krystal