We're back from a month of travel with a toddler. Sure, we had a great time. Sure, we took a lot if photos. Sure, we ate a lot of good food.
But how was it really? What was it like actually travelling with a 13 month old? Was it a good idea?
I've had a lot of people ask me. Clearly, we're all too smart these days to take a person's trip by instagram-face-value. Because I'm never one to shy away from an opportunity to tell the full truth about a situation, I've thrown together the five best and worst things about travelling with a toddler - no holding back.
Feel free to take on our advice and avoid our mistakes for your own future adventures!
The 5 BEST things about toddler-travel
1. The Gadgets
As much as the baby industry gets a bad rap for bombarding parents with overpriced, unnecessary items passed off as "absolute essentials", I've got to say, I was so thankful for the range of products available for travelling.
We took the time prior to our trip to research the good stuff and I'm so glad we chose to invest in items I know will last for all the adventures to come.
These items included a 3 kg travel cot from Phil and Ted's that was so compact it could fit in our luggage, the life-transforming Nano stroller from Mountain Buggy that could be stowed in our plane's overhead locker and the Phil and Ted’s Escape carrier that took us to all the places our pram couldn’t (including a 500 step pagoda).
The baby industry has made travelling with a small child so much more of a possibility and so for once, I thank it, I really do. But girl, if you're a mum-to-be who came back from this year's Baby show convinced you need that individually sealing nappy bin and wipe- warming-dispenser... you don't. You really don’t.
2. The Family time
We had one whole month of family time; one whole month of not needing to be anywhere or do anything that didn't involve each other. I won't lie, it had it's bad moments too. But how incredibly blessed were we to be able to spend that much time together? Just as well Olly is so terrible at taking holidays that his work allowed him to take it all in a big chunk.
For Ashton, this time meant he felt safe and supported, regardless of where we were, and that was pretty awesome. We saw huge changes in his confidence, sociability and willingness to try new things and go to strange places. It was rough being away for such a long time, but I’m glad we chose a long time to be together. Two weeks may have felt a little more disruptive.
3. The Dad time
I loved the family time, sure, but another great thing about our trip was watching the bond grow between father and son.
Not only that, but for a whole month I had another person on toddler-duty. Olly is a super hands-on dad who can't help but take on a leading role when it comes to supervising his child. For me that meant eating meals uninterrupted, having someone else watch the baby on the playground, and being able to take time out in the day to focus on myself (slash, post photos to Instagram).
If you're planning a big trip with a little human, be sure to talk to your partner about how that will effect your parenting roles. Would you like things to stay the same or be different?
For us, we made the decision that Olly would do the night wake ups, I would do the night feeds if they were needed (they were), and that he would do most of the nappy changes. He was also very conscious of giving me a break and so we discussed what that might look like before our holiday began.
4. The toy bag
I hit Kmart the day our flight took off. I'm so glad I did.
I purchased a small purse to fit in the nappy bag. Inside it were a cheap little toys we pulled out whenever Ashton needed to keep busy.
We have an active little boy who loves to explore, but there were many times he wasn't able to do that. When we were on our bus tour, for example, sometimes we were travelling for up to two hours at a time. This bag was filled with mini slinkies, light-up led rings, foldable snake toys, stickers and glow sticks. ALL items were a hit. Before long we were bringing out The toy bag at restaurants, during flight transfers, and sometimes when Ashton was in the pram. It was also incredibly useful on the plane and made for a great alternative to screentime on the iPad.
If you're planning a trip with a small person, invest in a toy bag!
5. The adventure
This kind of goes without saying.
The hardest part about travelling with a small child (or children) is actually having the guts to get out there and do it.
Sure, it's easier to be at home. Sure, it doesn't disrupt the routine. Sure, in many cases it makes for a happier and more settled child.
But how incredible is it that we have the ability to experience the world with our children next to us?
Gone are the days of getting travel 'over and done with' before you settle down. Guys! There’s a big wide world out there and adventure awaits!
The best thing about our trip was that we didn't let our situation stop us from experiencing adventure. This is a lesson I'm so passionate about teaching my children.
Life doesn't stop. You have to get out there and experience it, regardless of how intimidating it might be.
Plan your trip sensibly, and recognize that travelling with a child does look a little different, but wow, get out there while you can.
Hold tight for part 2 of this blog post, the 5 WORST things about travelling with a toddler. She’s a goodie.