|a trip to Florida|
by Emily from http://www.journeyofparenthood.com/
From a very young age I had a love of travel. I love the variety it brings to my life and I need those little escapes every now and then ;) Thankfully the Lord blessed me with a husband who shares my passion. We both want our children to see the world and experience different places while making wonderful memories together. At home, life is often busy. We rush rush rush through the day. We are constantly "plugged in". Constantly thinking about what we need to accomplish. Worrying over the house being clean, bills being paid, etc. Vacation time with our family is a time to let go of all those concerns and just focus on each other. Focus on fun and focus on family!
While we love to go and do with our children, their schedules always come first. Even when we are not at home! When our son, Kye, was four months old we went on a short vacation and decided to throw the schedule out the window. It was horrible. NONE of us had a good time and we vowed from that day forward to never break from schedule again :)
Our son will be four in March and our daughter, Brittlynn, just turned one. We still go and do quite often with them and have found many tricks to traveling with our Babywise children. With this being the holiday season and a time where families are often traveling I hope some of these tips will be useful to others!
- We stay on the kid's naps and bedtime schedules even when traveling. We typically don't do independent playtime...and eating times may have to be adjusted. But we make sure to plan our activities on our vacation around naps and bedtime! Everything else can be flexible, but well rested kids make for a MUCH happier trip for everyone :)
- Since our children do go to bed so early (7:00 for Brittlynn, 7:45 for Kye) we always bring along a portable dvd player with headphones so we can enjoy quality Mommy and Daddy time watching movies together once they are asleep :)
- We try not to go on trips that are further than 6 hours driving (we have flown with Kye once when he was 6 months old) and mostly try to stick even closer to home...majority of our little getaways are 4 hours or less away.
- We drive during naps when our children will still sleep in car seats. Once they stop sleeping in the car we start trying to drive during awake times. We use dvds once they are old enough to enjoy them. We don't watch tv at home much so this is a special treat and helps us all have a smoother trip ;)
- Both of our children sleep with box fans as "white noise" and we always pack these fans with us on our trips. It helps them to feel at home and it helps to keep down noises from other hotel rooms, from us being in the same room, from them waking each other up. An extension cord is always smart to pack too just in case there isn't a plug near their sleeping spots for the fan!
- We also always pack dark colored sheets, thumb tacks, and tape. My husband is a PRO at setting up sleep spaces for our children in hotel rooms. He will hang the sheets around the pack and play so it's nice and dark.
- We use a pack and play for our daughter and also used it for our son until he was just too old for it. Now we bring along a toddler sized air mattress on trips. At almost 4 years old he's old enough to sleep in a "big bed" obviously (since he sleeps in a twin at home) but we want to avoid that as long as possible. With the air mattress it's easier to put him in places to keep it dark and quiet than it would be if he were to sleep in a regular sized bed.
- Usually we do a little rearranging with the hotel furniture. We have found that there is more space in rooms with two double beds than with a king. Often the king is in the center of the room leaving very little floor space but with doubles there is much more space between the beds as well as between the beds and the walls!
- Typically we travel within our same timezone. We have only ever taken them places with a 1 hour time difference and when that happens we just keep them on the same timezone as home.
- When booking a hotel I will call ahead and ask if a pack and play will fit in the bathroom or large closet etc. It is always best when we can put the pack and play in the bathroom! Nice and dark and have the added bathroom fan!
- Having a free breakfast at a hotel is a really great feature. It's wonderful to be able to all stay in our pjs and eat right when our kids wake up like we would at home. I also look for rooms with refrigerators and microwaves in the room when possible. We have our own travel fridge we will bring when needed. It's nice to have so we can bring our own food and to keep left overs to reheat when eating out.
- We also try to book hotels with free internet so we can search for places to eat/driving directions/etc from our room during naps. The more planned out the trip is...the smoother it all goes and the happier everyone stays :)
- I also look for hotels with activities for Kye or hotels that are located near fun things to do. While Brittlynn has her morning nap one of us will take Kye to swim in the hotel pool, or play outside on a playground, or go somewhere nearby. It gives us that quality alone time with him, lets her stay on her schedule and keeps him out of the room so she can sleep!
- We do not get housekeeping to clean our room when we travel. I don't like to worry about them banging on the door during naps so we just go to the front desk and request extra towels and toiletries as needed. It also helps to request the QUIETEST room. Often it ends up being on one of the higher levels but what little kid doesn't enjoy pushing the buttons on the elevator ride? ;)
- Even though we're typically sleeping in the same room as our children, we still bring along our video monitor for the youngest. I like to be able to see her and know if she's asleep!
- I know many people visit family during the holidays. It is tough to keep kids on their schedules while trying to see family but it is possible. We will bring along all their stuff for sleeping and set up their "sleep stations" in spare rooms in people's homes if needed. It may be a little uncomfortable asking but I'd rather ask and my family get to see my children at their best...than skip naps and my family see my children in a miserable state!
For us, small little trips aren't about doing anything fancy. We stick on a tight budget! We often bring along our own food and find free or very inexpensive activities for us to do. Every trip is a little adventure and we always have such a fun time with our sweet children! It may be tricky to make it all work but giving our children these experiences makes it all worth while.