I wanted to share some of the toddler travel tips I gathered during our first family vacation, other than the usual ‘bring lots of snacks and toys’. If you’re planning to travel soon with your little one, I hope you find this helpful!
1. Don’t wait til the last minute to do ANYTHING.
Our fall back for the plane ride if Ava was getting grumps was to put a Dora the Explorer video on the iPad. M’s job was to download it. I reminded him again the night before we left. He said he’d do it at the airport while we were waiting and I said, “Okaaaaay.”
Guess what. Getting into the airport WiFi is a PIA compared to the last time I flew and we were Dora-less. We had a connection in North Carolina, the first half of the flight was fine because she slept through most of it, the second could have been a lot easier if we had the videos ready. Towards the end she was getting super-antsy and she let us (all of us) know about it. But, we managed to keep her busy with her toys, books, and other random stuff from my purse when her own stuff got too boring. She really wasn’t that bad overall, but M definitely got the death stare when I found out we couldn’t download Dora.
2. Consider meal times in your flight schedule.
We had plenty of snacks, but I made sure to buy a sandwich before our first flight for Ava’s lunch because we had a short lay over and I knew we wouldn’t have time to grab her something in North Carolina.
3. Try to get a room with a separate living space from the bedroom. A kitchen is a bonus.
M’s boss offered us his timeshare during the stay, which had a separate bedroom and a small kitchenette. So when Ava took a nap or went down for sleep at night, we didn’t have to worry about tip-toeing around or sitting quietly in a dark room. We could watch TV and hang out with no worries of waking her.
The kitchen was nice because we ended up buying milk, fruit, and other essentials just in case Ava was hungry and we didn’t feel like going out for a meal and since we were in a timeshare there was no room service. We asked our cab driver to stop by the supermarket before bringing us to the hotel because just buying an apple at the Starbucks on the resort was $3.50! Luckily, we bought a whole bag of apples at the grocery store so we didn’t need to buy any.
4. Bring clothing that you can layer.
The weather was all over the place the first two days while we were there, it could be pouring rain, then bright and sunny within get a matter of minutes. I had one light sweater for her and I wish I’d brought more. I assumed it would be sunny the whole time because on our previous Caribbean vacations it’s always been that way. Luckily, we had plenty of sunshine for the remaining days.
5. Do some tests runs in your travel crib.
Ava won’t sleep just anywhere and when my friend texted me a picture of a hotel crib, I knew she would have a hard time with it. Another friend told me they usually just co-sleep on vacation, but Ava hasn’t slept with us since she was 2 or 3 months old and I don’t imagine it working out now. We decided to get the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib to be on the safe side and not have to deal with Ava hating whatever the timeshare might provide. I’m glad we did because during the test runs with the Lotus, it took her a few days to adjust to it. Having her adjust to a new crib and new place would have been that much harder. I had her nap and night sleep in it for a few days every week for a month before vacation so by the time we went, it wasn’t a problem. I plan to review the Lotus, and the travel stroller we used at some point in the next few weeks.
6. Pack two sets of extra clothes in the diaper bag.
When we arrived at the airport to head home, the second I put Ava in the stroller she threw up. This happens sometimes if she eats and then goes for a car ride soon after. Unfortunately, this was one of those times. I’m glad I didn’t need to use the back-up outfit after using the first set, but you never know and I’m glad I had it in the case she had another vomiting episode or other miscellaneous spilling issue. Also, if your kid has a lovey, bring the back-up. Bella did not escape the barf and I was thankful we had number 2 ready and waiting.
7. Hope for the best, but expect the worst.
Our travels to the Bahamas went quite smoothly. Ava did have a couple of moments on the connecting flight there, but overall she was a star. The return trip was a nightmare, but honestly I couldn’t really blame her (American Airlines/U.S. Airways, I’m looking at you). We missed our connecting flight because our first one out of the Bahamas was delayed. Annoyingly, I feel like we should have been able to get on that flight because as I got to the gate with Ava after booking it off the first, it had departed 3 minutes early. So we ended up with a 3 hour layover. Ava couldn’t wind down for a nap and basically wanted to run around the airport the whole time. Sigh. When we finally boarded, I noticed it was blazing hot in the airplane. They announce that a valve is being repaired so that the air conditioning will work. Okay, fine. Almost 45 minutes later they announce we all need to get off the plane because they are still trying to fix it and if they can’t we may need to board another plane. REALLY?! An hour later, they have it fixed and we head home, but we finally land at 10 PM, 5 hours later than we should have. All of this is bad enough without a toddler, with one it’s just unbearable. M asked me multiple times if I was okay because I’m sure the look on my face could have melted stone. I get that AA & U.S. Airways merged and must be working out some kinks, but I already told M we will never fly with them again. Okay, end rant.
Other than that, we had a wonderful vacation! We all had a great time, especially Ava. I’ll share more on that soon, my sister is getting all the pictures off her camera for me (we borrowed hers) and as soon as I get them I’ll get a post up.