Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tips for Travelling with a Two Year-Old

Lac La Biche

We pretty much blew our travel budget for the next couple of years during our mat leave so we decided to lay low this summer and play closer to home. Thanks to Alberta Provincial Parks and Air BnB, we found some cool spots to relax at, while also getting the chance to explore parts of the province we hadn't seen before.

During an 11-day stretch, we ventured up to Edmonton, Lac La Biche, back through Edmonton, then down to Stettler. So four different accommodations in under two weeks. Although Adventure Baby is a fantastic sleeper, this definitely put some stress on her. Ways we kept this trip as calm as possible are listed below. We hope you'll find some of our tips helpful for your own getaway!

The Hi-Level Streetcar in Edmonton was a huge hit!
How to Prepare
Our daughter is very verbal and she likes to know the plan ahead of time. So we started talking about our road trip the week before. We used vocabulary she could understood and laid out the plan for her a day in advance while travelling so she knew what to expect. We'd say things like, "Today we're going to play at the playground, pack up the car, then do a big car ride. It will be a sleep in the car day. Then after nap, we'll get to ____ house. We'll set up your bed, and the potty, and have a snack." She knows how to count sleeps so we'd keep track of how many sleeps until we moved on to another location or until it was a "big car ride" day. We gave each place we stayed an easy name for her to use, such as "Lake House" or "Farm House."

If you're travelling by plane, we'd recommend showing your child the TSA video on Youtube. It prepares them for the different phases of airplane travel such as checking in your bags, going through security, and then finding your plane.

Watching the harvest in Stettler

Car Rides
We kept our driving days to a maximum of 2.5 hours. We always left at her usual nap time, put on our sleep sounds app, and were off. Adventure Baby has never been a big sleeper in cars but she slept every time for roughly an hour (not great, considering she normally sleeps 1 hour 45 min, but it was manageable). Then we had some activities on-hand in case she got antsy once awake, such as Water Wows, tablet games, and CDs with kid songs.

By contacting the hosts ahead of time, we were able to have late check-outs and early check-ins to work around her nap schedule/our driving time as best as possible. Hosts were super accommodating when they knew we had a small child. Upon arriving at each place, we immediately set up the potty and show her where that is, find her room and set it up with the pack-n-play, her owl (sleep sounds), the monitor, and lay out her books and clothes on her bed. Then, we show her where our room is and that is enough to settler her in. We try to find places with two bedrooms so she has her own sleeping space and where we can have nice views to enjoy after bedtime. Lac La Biche and Stettler were both great for this!

The great thing about a road trip is that you have the space to bring a cooler in the car. We pre-made most of our meals at home and brought them along with us frozen in the cooler. That really helped cut down on the time we spent on vacation grocery shopping, preparing food, and cleaning up so instead, we could just enjoy the location! It also meant that we were confident we'd have food on hand that Adventure Baby would eat. For us, that meant spaghetti and meat sauce, ramen, chili, corn on the cob...all easy-to-cook items that are kid-friendly. A little comfort food on the road can go a long way.

We also packed some of her favourite snacks to have when we were out-and-about in each city. She learned the words "special treat" pretty quickly on this trip and some crackers, a granola bar, or a pouch became a bit of an expectation. But for us, we've found that it can make transitions back into the car or stroller a lot easier!

Since we had the space in the car to pack a few toys, we brought whatever we could that was compact and had longevity in terms of entertainment. The magna-blocks turned out to be a great hit and really helped keep her occupied when we were packing up our bags. Colouring supplies with lots of new stickers went a long way. We let Adventure Baby choose one stuffed animal to bring, along with her doll, and those plus a few diapers are always a big hit.

Lastly, make sure you trade off and plan some time to yourself. Living out of a suitcase can be stressful and kids pick up on that. By giving yourself a break, you'll be more relaxed and so will your child. I don't think we could have managed a trip that was longer than 12 days at the pace we were going, so we know for the future that three nights is what we need in one location if we're going to be on the road for a while. Happy Travelling, Everyone!