5 Travel Tips To Keep Yourself Prepared For Anything
Travel with a toddler is an ever-morphing challenge. She likes this food, she doesn't like it. She's happy and chill, no she's pissed off and screaming. Wheeeeee, she loves the car! Uh-oh, she's channeling the Hulk to get her out of her carseat as we're driving down the road. While I don't miss the up-around-the-clock-ness of the little baby years, that was one benefit of traveling with an infant. She was up every few hours, no matter the time zone. I may have been extra finely ground turkey while on the road, but my brain was mush no matter where I lay my head for two hour intervals each night.
Now that we're on a pretty awesome and mostly normal schedule, even the slightest one hour time change makes a difference for everyone, and the surprises while traveling with a toddler, they are a'plenty. I need not add to my own headache through lack of preparation and relying 100% on improvisation. Which is why I try to keep us in ready-for-anything-mode.
Okay yeah, fine I know, it's pretty damn hard to remained prepared when there's a two-year-old in the mix. But these five are simple tips I employ to attempt to stay one step ahead of the tornado.
Bring efficient toys.
Sounds kind of weird, right? What the hell do I mean 'efficient toys'? Here's what I mean: toys that pack well and don't get boring fast. Employ a combo that can be rotated throughout the trip: stuffed animals that perhaps your kids haven't seen in a while that might have some 'new' appeal (along with the cannot-leave-at-home's, of course); small and light books that won't break your back to carry around, and books that are as interactive as possible (think flaps, lots of illustrations like those "1000 words" type of books, etc.), small Matchbox cars or small animal figurines. You get my drift: things that imaginations can dream up a million different scenarios for, and all of which fit in their backpack (even, or especially, if you're carrying said backpack).
Stock up with some basics upon arrival.
If you pack with a plan (a preview tip from my next 5 Travel Tips post... I told you the advice was flowing freely on our most recent trip), you will be good to go with nearly everything you need. But some things are not worth the weight or risk of explosion spills in your suitcase. I always check out what's near our hotel or Airbnb home base, and if there is a Duane Reade/Walgreens/CVS, I will reserve a list of items like dish detergent for bottles or those four packs of backup diapers to purchase upon arrival. The cosmetics that are non-brand negotiable (i.e. you can't risk the store not having what you need) must be packed. But those that don't matter, stock up when you get there. If your room/place has a fridge or mini-fridge, grab your milk and a basic roundup of breakfast and snack items to have in your pocket. It's always when a hunger-induced meltdown is underway that there doesn't seem to be a restaurant, snack bar or bodega in sight.
Plug in all electronics at night before going to bed. No matter what.
This one, which seems like perhaps the most obvious of all five of these tips, is the hardest for me. Because I'm an always exhausted mom. The moment I get my kid in bed, the only thing I want to do is to fall into bed (or a couch, or something soft and comfortable) myself and be as still as possible. My plans for straightening up our things, washing the bottles and generally getting ready for the next day are usually scrapped and abandoned in 30 seconds or less. But the key is to quickly plug everything in before you (or on the way to your) collapse. There is nothing more frustrating than waking up and getting ready to head out for the day, then realizing that your phone, or iPad or whatever it may be that solves emergency meltdown moments, is dead. I'm constantly kicking myself for being lazy and killing my sanity in the process.
Keep the baby/toddler/kid bag packed and ready for anything.
A tip borrowed from my first travel post that bears repeating. I'm reminded of it, well, every time I walk out of the hotel room. For example, at the beach her bag ("packpack") would have not only the everyday requisites like diapers, wipes, a change of clothes and a water bottle, but also things like extra swimmie diapers and suits, sunscreen, her sunglasses and a sun hat waiting. Because nine times out of ten, I will walk out of the room with few to zero percent of the items I will actually need on an outing. If I think for myself, before myself, I save myself.
Get ready to freestyle.
I always have to have a countertip to illustrate that we're working with children here. Take #1-4 to heart, and then drop your expectations. Every kid is different, every day. Even I can't predict my kid from one day to the next. Only you know your child best, even when you have no idea.
I still recommend attempting preparation.
How do you keep yourself prepared for anything while traveling? Share your tips in the comments below.