Vacation started later in the day for us on Thursday, February 9. Our plane didn’t leave until – what we thought – 6:55pm, so we spent the morning finishing up packing, washing the car and getting my haircut. My Mom came and got us at 3:30pm and we left – what we thought – early for the airport.
When we got there and checked in we realized that the plane doesn’t leave at 6:55pm, but leaves at 5:40pm. The time was now 4:30pm. Thank goodness we got there early!
We checked in our bags and walked to the terminal. This day was pretty boring so I’m going to cut the chase and give you some tips on traveling with a toddler.
Quick thought (i.e. Kevin looks up and to the left wondering…): When is Lukas classified as a toddler? Is there a certain age when he transforms from a baby into a toddler? I like to think of him as a toddler because he’s very mobile, becoming independent and can say a few words.
Enough of that…here are some rules for traveling with a toddler.
Rule #1 – Don’t!
Okay, don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful time traveling with Lukas. He was great actually! But that first flight, both times, was a pain in the butt. He doesn’t want to sit in his chair, he constantly moves back and forth from Mommy to Daddy, he constantly presses the button to release the phone on the back of the seat in front of him, he peeks over the seat and laughs at the person behind him. He’s just very rambunctious. And really, can you blame him. He’s 15-months old, he doesn’t want to sit and look at Sky Magazine for two hours. He wants to explore! Which means driving Mommy and Daddy crazy and making them incredibly tired. Which brings me to Rule # 2.
Rule # 2 – Do not stay up late the night before playing your silly Nintendo GameCube football game, even though you did throw six touchdowns.
It’s always best to have full energy when traveling with a toddler. Kevin…not so smart. I was exhausted before we got on the plane and having Lukas go back and forth from seat 31A to 31C made me especially tired. That’s why I bribed him on the return flight home. Lukas, if you sleep for Dad on the second flight to home I’ll put $50 in your piggy bank. Best $50 I spent. He gets $50 and I got two hours of sleep.
Rule # 3 – Travel lightly – for you.
Don’t take more than one suitcase for you and your wife (of whoever you’re traveling with) cause you’re going to need your other set of hands for carrying the stroller, play pen, diaper bag, car seat, his suitcase filled with toys, and his suitcase filled with his clothes. Next time I’m bringing a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, clean pair of boxers and sandals and I’m putting them in my pockets. It felt like we lost stuff – including my mind – this trip. There were so many things we had to take care of we had to recount after every stop. Did we get his sippy cup, his hat, his shoes, his toy? Yep. But we left my darn sunglasses on the Buzz Lightyear ride (which was really fun, by the way).
Rule # 4 – Bring that playpen, stroller and car seat.
Some of you probably read Rule # 3 and thought…why did they bring the car seat, stroller and play pen? I thought the same thing too until we got there and I thought, why is Lis always right?!? It’s like some motherly instinct you get when you deliver a baby. Well, thankfully we brought all three of those items.
The playpen is great, especially when you were only able to get a single bed room. Lukas was able to have his own place to sleep and we didn’t have to endure five nights of him kicking me in the stomach, punching me in the face and poking my eye out, which he almost did the night we did let him sleep with us. You can check the playpen as baggage.
The stroller is wonderful because you don’t have to rent a stroller at Disneyland, he’s able to lean back and take a nap in the stroller, and frankly, it just makes life so much easier. You just take the stroller to the gate with you. They put a bright yellow or orange tag on it and then you stroll it down the ramp, leave it at the door and it miraculously shows up when you get off the plane.
The car seat is really only needed if you’re renting a car. Other than that it’s a pain in the butt to carry around through the terminal. The first time we didn’t check it because we thought he would need it on the plane. Nope! Wrong, it should’ve been checked. I wish we would’ve known that before because it would’ve saved me some extra muscle strength (as if I have any) plus it wouldn’t have gotten the security agents all freaked out when they weren’t able to fit it through the scanner.
Rule # 5 – Don’t worry what people think.
I do this too often and did it the first flight down. He didn’t cry, he didn’t kick or pull hair…okay maybe he did pull hair, but come on, the lady knew there was a kid behind her, did she have to fling her hair over the chair like that?!?
I’m always afraid that people will look at us and pray that they are not sitting next to “the people with the kid”. But what do I care? He doesn’t bother anyone and he’s more entertaining to watch than the snack cart going back and forth up the aisles knocking people’s elbows (though that’s mildly amusing). I just always care what people think and shouldn’t get worked up doing so. So don’t do it either.
I guess those are my five main rules for traveling with a toddler. That night we got our car and found our hotel by luck. They are doing some work on the nearby highway and didn’t have the street names posted so our Hertz NeverLost had problems finding the correct exit as did our MapQuest directions. We made it alright, Lukas woke up at midnight looking around wondering “Where the heck am I?” It’s funny seeing that face. The after-nap “how did I get here?” sleepy eye look.
So Day One was in the books and all the worrying was done. We made it in one piece, Lukas didn’t pester anyone, our bags were all there, the rent-a-car place had our reservation and the hotel had our reservation. Things were looking good for Day Two.