Lessons Learned: Two Weeks in Minneapolis with a Toddler

It was quite a trip, and I did a fairly good job having the right stuff on hand. A couple things I want to remember for our next big travel:
  • Bring fewer toys and books. I brought probably 20 books and nearly as many toys. I had visions of playing and reading in the hotel room. Uh ... it's not childproofed, so we spent most of our time out and about. Also, we did plenty of shopping, including some books and toys of course! So a better idea would have been just a few toys and books for the plane, and then play it by ear otherwise. For books we can always go to the library. Even though we can't check them out we could always read, read, read there.
  • Bring fewer clothes -- especially if I know I'll be doing laundry, just do it twice instead of only once -- and then that adds space in the suitcase to buy more clothes! (Particularly MY clothes -- I way over packed and for some reason forgot that I can wear jean shorts more than once.)
  • Bring a booster seat! We had to buy one, which turned out OK. We found a folding travel booster on Amazon (affiliate link) that had pretty good reviews and was available at Babies R Us. It made mealtime infinitely easier. It folds down flat and weighs less than 2 lbs. I highly recommend it, and now we have a booster for our October trip and to use for coloring/stickers at the kitchen table. It's a Thing that I Bought That I Love. Some of the reviews talk about how the seat collapses under the toddler -- I don't think that can happen if the straps are tightened properly -- it's pretty cool how it works actually.
  • Gate check the stroller! (Although it managed to get home OK without any further damage by checking it as luggage.)
NAILED IT. Things that worked for us for toddler travel.
  • Always bring a small First Aid kid. We had Band Aids with us, which were key when Jane cut her index finger in the elevator. It was fine, but I was glad I had them. (Hotel had some too, so there's always that, but I like relying on myself, probably more than I should.)
  • STICKERS STICKERS STICKERS -- these are great on the plane and for downtime in restaurants or really any time she's in the mood. I like the bigger stickers that are round -- easier for her to place and less frustrating. I had a little mini notebook that she could put them in, and bonus she can later flip through them and relive the fun!
  • Water bottle and tote bags -- definitely a city vacationer's friend. (I'm in the market for a flat water bottle I think ... I've been using my Life Factory glass one, and it's super heavy even when empty -- although water always tastes great.)
  • Cool towels -- we went to MN in the middle of a heat wave, so these were great to have while we were at the zoo and other outdoor activities in the heat.
  • Dog backpack -- I got this at a consignment sale before Jane could even walk. It's basically a leash, but it gives her more freedom than she'd have otherwise (there's probably an analogy for life in there somewhere). What I mean is that I don't have to grip her hand tightly and we can walk a little easier knowing she can't jet away from us. Jane's very much into walking now and rarely wants to be carried. She'll ride in the stroller some, but we didn't have the stroller with us in the airport so the dog was good. It was also a nice hugging friend on the plane and served as a pillow/arm prop for the one flight she actually slept.
  • Bigger diaper bag for me -- I tried on all of the bags I own that were about the size I was thinking (remembering from the Berlin trip), and I settled on a luggage-style soft-sided bag that had an adjustable strap. So I was able to make it long enough to hit my hip. I wore it with the Ergo or just pushing the stroller, and it was great.  
I tried "hypnosis" from this Scary Mommy blog post about traveling with kids.  I told Jane how she'd feel sleepy and cozy when we got on the plane. When I asked her what she'd do when we got on the plane, she'd respond "Shhh..." But the first flight was no sleep, even though it was still early. I guess 6:30 am is about her normal wake up time, but she'd already been up for more than 2 hours, so what gives? I was exhausted and ready to sleep! After monumental amounts of play in the DFW airport she did sleep for over an hour on the last flight, and she didn't have any trouble falling asleep in her own crib back home. So I think I should count myself lucky. I certainly do!


Anonymous said...

For the love!!

You shoulda went 220 miles to the headwaters, and walked across the Mississippi river.

(LOL - why did I bother saying that?? Perhaps because you said Mississippi more than once??? ) (I'd better count...)

Sydney said...

I feel totally prepared to travel with a toddler. When can I take Jane on a trip?

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