Our First Overnight Trip As A Family

We finally found the time to go on our first trip as a family. While there were a few hiccups and plenty of meltdowns, it was an encouraging and overall successful experience. And most importantly, it was so nice to get out and “travel” again.

You see, my husband and I used to travel all the time. Most of our weekends, we were out and about. We both get antsy spending too much time at home. We love the outdoors, hiking, visiting new cities, exploring, and sightseeing.

The first year after Livi was born, was tough in so many ways and one thing that made it even more difficult was that we couldn’t go farther than our neighborhood park, and some days we did not even make it that far.

Lately, we’ve been exploring new parks and sights closer to home that we hadn’t seen before and all three of us enjoyed those outings.

So we finally decided it was time to take a mini vacation and stay a night at a hotel. We ended up getting such a good deal, that we booked two nights. Which admittedly made me a bit nervous because we didn’t know if Livi would even last through one night.

Below are a few tips that made our trip easier for Livi.

  • Destination: We chose a destination that was only about an hour from our home. Livi hates sitting in her car seat and, unless she is sleeping, won’t go along for more than 30 minutes and that’s if we’re lucky.
  • Routine: We tried to follow our usual routine as much as possible, especially at bedtime. Bedtime is difficult for Livi and so we brought along most of the items we use during that time, including calming music, all her bath time supplies, her favorite bedtime books, etc. She still had a harder time than usual to calm down. While she was excited about exploring the hotel earlier in the day, when she realized that she was supposed to actually sleep in a different bed, she had a major meltdown. Both nights it took a lot of calming and cuddling for her to finally fall asleep. We also let her sleep with us because there was no way she was going to sleep by herself.
  • Naps: We made sure she got plenty of rest during her naps, which is difficult on the go as she never naps at the same time or for the same amount of time. But it is very important for a high need toddler so we made the extra effort.
  • Toys: We brought along quite a number of her favorite toys and books. We also had a new toy specifically for the car, which we saved for a meltdown as well as a new book, which helped a lot at bedtime.
  • Activities: Too much stimulation and Livi gets overwhelmed so we had to choose wisely. We picked one activity that we had planned on doing for a long time: we visited the zoo on the first day after her nap, when she was in a good mood. The other days, we mostly went for walks, which included some sightseeing. But we made sure that there was plenty of opportunity for her to walk by herself so that she could put some of her energy to good use. One afternoon we went on a nature trail in the woods, which turned out to be a lot of fun for her.
  • Eating Out: Eating out is difficult with Livi. It’s often too noisy and crowded for her comfort level. She vehemently refuses to sit in a highchair and even on our laps or in her stroller she doesn’t last through the whole meal. We knew we could not eat out for every meal and so went out for breakfast once and once for lunch after she took a nap. The first day, I had prepared lunch to bring along and for other meals we had take out or sandwiches at the hotel or a picnic table outdoors where she could run around.

You can never be prepared for everything with a high need toddler. Expect the unexpected, don’t worry too much, go with the flow, and most importantly try to enjoy the trip yourself. The more relaxed you are, the more your little traveler will relax and enjoy this new experience.

Flickr Photo by garethjmsaunders

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17 comments on “Our First Overnight Trip As A Family

  1. the speech monster says:

    glad you guys got to go out and do something different as a family! congrats on that achievement. πŸ™‚

  2. Steph says:

    “don’t worry too much, go with the flow, and most importantly try to enjoy the trip yourself.” Great advice. Glad you were able to have a good first trip.

  3. Nina says:

    I needed this. We’re going on a trip tomorrow! Like yourself, we limit where we go to road trips (I have yet to cross the airplane threshold!). This would be the third time we’re taking a trip. The first one at five months was a disaster, but the next one about a year later was so much better. Now that my kiddo is older I think it’s easier to explain things to him, but we’re still coming prepared with the must-haves. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  4. Deni Lyn says:

    I’m so glad that everything went pretty well and you got to enjoy some time as a family! We do a decent amount of running around and while I know Livi is a lot more intense than our son, I do think the more you can “practice” and the more she knows what to expect, the more fun it becomes. I can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!

    • hnMom says:

      I completely agree. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to go on many overnight trips. But we’ve been doing at least one day trip on weekends for a while now and that’s been going pretty well.
      Thanks for the tip. πŸ™‚

  5. Hooray for your first night away! That’s great! So scary to do it though, isn’t it? It is a lot of work, but it’s nice to get a change of scenery. I have only done it twice, and I found sticking to routine as much as possible was the best thing. Where are you heading next!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    • hnMom says:

      Haha, don’t know yet but we are definitely looking to do it again sooner rather than later.
      And you’re right, it is a lot of work but really worth it for all of us.

  6. We recently took our 2.5 year old on a plane. So far I have vowed to not do it again until he is 8!

    I appreciate that there are other families out there that have to make hard choices about how mobile they can be, based on their children’s behavior. It’s difficult – I just keep telling myself that it won’t last forever.

    • hnMom says:

      I can’t even wrap my head around the idea of flying with Livi. That will have to wait. I actually don’t think it is worth it for anybody at this point. Why make us all miserable if we can avoid it.
      But you’re right, it won’t last forever. And until then I am just going to enjoy our more immediate surroundings. πŸ™‚

  7. 4eyedblonde says:

    Traveling can sometimes be more stressful than it is fun. I’m so glad you got a taste and can’t wait for you to get another opportunity!

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you! I long for a real vacation but for now, this will have to do.
      I did get a pretty good taste of how stressful it can be, but it was still nice to get out and see something different.

  8. sassandspice says:

    It’s great that you were brave enough to venture out with your little one. I have done so as well and like your experience, isn’t easy and you definitely have to plan and have some strategies up your sleeve. It’s definitely not the same as going on vacation without kids but it’s all worth it. And makes for some great memories. x

    • hnMom says:

      Absolutely, we made some great memories and in the end, we all relaxed, even I did a little bit. A change of scenery can do wonders for everybody. πŸ™‚

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