Ok, so I may not be considered a Pro at traveling. But, I do know how to travel like one. Some may say I go overboard, because I do a LOT of planning, and I try to think of everything. Of course, it’s easier to travel like a pro without a baby or toddler (let alone several) in tote! But, it can be done, as well. In this blog post, I’m going to provide some tips on How to Travel Like a Pro, along with how to do so with a toddler in tote!
Ask a few friends for advice on traveling with a toddler, and you’re bound to get the most popular advice. “Leave them at home!” But, Scott and I have done our share of traveling, solo. A few years ago, we brought our first foster baby, Baby Banana, to Ft. Lauderdale. It was wonderful! On Tuesday, we returned from Delray Beach & Miami, with Baby Blue. Overall, it was relatively smooth and very enjoyable! I can tell you with full assurance that it is possible to travel like a pro, even with a toddler.
(Scroll towards the bottom of this blog post to see my advice on traveling with a toddler. You can also check out my blog post, called Baby-cation, which has a lot of great tips for traveling with a baby!)
Travel Like a Pro
Here are some general tips for traveling. Some of these ideas are relevant assuming you’re traveling from somewhere cold (like New Jersey or New York in Mach) to somewhere hot (like Miami or the Caribbean)!
1.) Make a LIST with 3 Categories, several weeks in advance!
DO: (stop mail, arrange for pet-sitter, etc.)
BUY: (goggles, sunscreen, etc.)
PACK: (back-up charger, extension chord, etc.)
As you think of things you may need to DO, BUY, or PACK prior to departure day, add them to your list! You’d be surprised how many things you think of before travel day. And, grateful for the things you remember.
2.) Use packing cubes or ziplock bags to keep everything organized.
This is especially helpful when packing for babies or children. I actually opted to use large freezer bags. But, these packing cubes, from Amazon, are super cute and affordable. They even come in different colors (one set for each family member)!
3.) Adjust your packing, after checking the 10 Day Forecast.
A few days before heading to Florida, I checked the ten day weather forecast. I always do this 7-10 days before my departure date, when a weather forecast is available. Even though it’s not 100% accurate, it can still be very helpful.
I learned that the evening temperatures in southern Florida would be “fairly mild”. So, I didn’t need to bring anything heavier than a sweater. It also helped me to know how to pack for Baby Blue.
It’s also helpful to check the temperatures on travel day, in your departure city and arrival city. Again, so you can dress accordingly.
4.) On travel day, wear layers!
On travel day, I recommend dressing comfortably, with layers. Regardless of the outdoor temperatures, sometimes airports and airplanes can be hot or cold. A tank, a tee, a zip-up jacket (or cardigan), with a scarf, are your best options, as far as layers go.
For this trip, I wore a cotton, fairly lightweight, short-sleeve jumpsuit. It worked because our departure city (Philadelphia) was not too cold, the day of our flight. The jumpsuit was so comfortable and versatile. All I needed to do was switch out my sneakers for flip flops and remove my cardigan and scarf, once in Florida. Best part? I felt like I was wearing pjs. And, it looked pretty chic!
5.) A few more tips, for travel day!
I also suggest wearing sneakers, if you’re flying, for a few reasons. First, if you plan on exercising during your vacay, your athletic shoes most likely take up too much real estate in your luggage. Secondly, they go best with socks! (I prefer not going through security barefoot.) Lastly, they’re the most comfortable thing you can wear on your feet! You’ll be walking a lot more on the day of flight travel!
Unless you’re arriving, in the evening, I’d suggest having your beach bag and flip flops ready. Make up your beach bag (bathing suit, flip flops, sunscreen, etc.) and place in an accessible spot, in your luggage. That way, if you arrive at your hotel hours before check-in, you can have the hotel hold your luggage, and head straight for the pool! (I also like to throw on my flip flops immediately, at the airport. Sometimes, I just take them on my carry-on.)
Drink a lot of water and pee before you board your plane. Flying takes a lot out of you. It’s so helpful to stay hydrated. (Try to start drinking your water several hours before departure.) I also like to keep an Evian facial mist spray, handy. It feels so good on my skin when dealing with dry weather!
Something I always take for granted is having full control of my home environment. But, on vacation, it can be frustrating, at times, if it’s too loud. Too bright, etc. Especially if you like to rest. On the plane. By the pool, etc. Here are a few staple items and reminders to help create a more controlled (and pleasant) environment. On the plane, by the pool, at the beach, etc.
Ear plugs (To block out noise.)
Sleep mask (Yes, I wear it on the plane, sometimes!)
Tissues and/or moist towelettes
Pill box (Tylenol, aspirin, etc.)
Laptop (Download a movie to watch during the flight! If you’re watching it with someone, use a splitter.)
Last, but not least…
Most checked bags have a 50lb. weight limit. Please do yourself a favor! Use this handy-dandy gadget to weigh your luggage BEFORE you get to the airport.
Traveling with a Baby or Toddler
There’s a lot of decisions to make, prior to travel day. Such as, “Would we rather pack more so we don’t have to run out and buy things?” Or, “Would we rather leave it at home, and if we need it, we’ll buy it?” I believe it depends on where you’re going and how long you’ll be there for. If it’s a few days, when in doubt, leave it at home. But, if it’s for a week or more, and you have room in your luggage, (which has wheels on it, anyway), it’s not going to be much more trouble to bring it! Just be mindful of weight restrictions.
Do we buy a seat on the flight, or should we hold little one? Should we check the stroller with our other luggage, or wait until we get to the gate? I had to visually role play traveling with Baby Banana (who was six months old) and Baby Blue (sixteen months old) so we would be best prepared for our trip. I highly recommend doing this so you can foresee what you may need to bring, in terms of being prepared.
We decided to buy Baby Blue a seat, since he is at a squirmy age. We brought his car seat, to keep him more secure on the flight. (You can purchase a car seat bag to make holding it, a bit less awkward.) We also knew that we’d be driving to dinners during a portion of our trip.
We also decided to bring Baby Blue’s stroller and check it, at the gate. Once we entered the airport, we put Chase in the stroller. We checked our large bags. Scott and I both used backpacks for our carry-on. The stroller conveniently held my large tote bag, as well.
Obviously, you can’t set the bar as high when traveling with a baby or toddler. (If you don’t have patience, I honestly don’t recommend bringing them along!) You have to anticipate the possibility of sleepless nights. A potential ear issue, on the plane. And, forget about alone time. (Unless you have a baby-sitting plan in place.)
I will say, however, I enjoyed every minute with Baby Blue. I consider myself fortunate, every day, to be his mommy. So, I love the good, the bad, and all the in-between. Some vacations are for R&R. Others are for building memories. If you’re traveling with a toddler, make sure you go into it knowing that you will be making memories. Take lots of photos. And, have fun!