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.