- Someone will always be unhappy. Most of the time, this will be your toddler, but in some cases it might be someone a bit older. Just roll with it! Flexibility is key. The idea of vacationing can be a hard concept to grasp for a young child. We made concessions for Cab that were outside our norm…such as pushing back bedtime or offering a smoothie for dinner, which also made the time less stressful for all of us.
- Keep it simple. For us, that means we drive instead of fly. I applaud my parent friends who have flown on planes with their little ones. But the convenience of not having to drag around luggage, entertain a toddler on an airplane, or figure out necessities once we arrive outweighs our desire to go somewhere far from home…for now, at least.
- Opt for a vacation house. If you haven’t had the joy of sharing a small hotel room with your toddler, your supposed “vacation” shouldn’t be the first time you try it out. I can typically find a rental home for almost the same price per night as a hotel…but even if a home costs a bit more, we think it’s worth every penny. Having a kitchen, living space, and bedroom where you can stretch out (even if you’re still sharing space with your toddler) will make the vacation more comfortable for everyone.
- You’re not going to be able to do everything. I’ve always been a big planner. It’s almost embarrassing to admit, but I’ve also (in the past, of course) planned our vacations down to a time table. But adding a toddler into the mix is like dining in a French restaurant when you don’t speak French; you’re going to get a great meal, but you’re not exactly sure what you ordered. On our most recent trip, my husband and I wanted to go out to a local restaurant for a date night, which never happened. We wanted to tour the local microbrewery, which also never happened. But you know what did happen? Tons of awesome family memories that make my diverted plans easier to get over.
- Vacations are no longer restful. I don’t have to tell you this, but toddlers have lots of energy, and as you can imagine, that impacts the family’s ability for R&R. My goal last week was to float around the lake on a giant tube with a cold drink. Did that happen? Sure, just in short increments. When we got home from our week-long adventure, my husband and I took a good long nap each time Cab napped for the next two days…we needed it! But the time we spent together was so worth it.
I have a feeling this won’t be the last set of lessons I learn from my son, either about life or vacationing. When you sign up to be a parent, you know you’re in for an educational experience, but I think that’s what makes this whole parenting thing so much fun. What advice do you have for vacationing with a toddler?