Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tips For Travelling With Tots

If you happened to notice the silence from my portion of the blogosphere the latter part of this week, let me excuse myself by sharing the adventures and misadventures of our 3 day family trip to St-Sauveur-des-Monts, QC.

When my husband suggested we take a ski getaway with some friends and free accommodations, my first thought was not "Wow, this is going to be so much FUN," but rather "Oh brother, this is going to be a lot of work." And, to any sane mind, I was right. Not that we didn't have fun too, mind you. The weather was perfect, skiing conditions were great (I was told), and the accommodations were amazing. Also the girls got lots of great attention from our friends and their little boys, and had some good bonding time with "Daddy".

The packing, however, was mind-boggling, with diapers, formula, baby clothes, food, our clothes, toiletries, cellphones & paraphernalia, ski & snowboard gear, varying degrees of warm outerwear and then the paranoia of "what am I forgetting?" as soon as we set out. Trying to stay on schedule and dealing with pit stop issues made the trip interesting, and being cooped up with 2 babies in a non-babyproofed space while hubby was skiing for a few hours was enough to go crazy. The latter, however, was by choice since I did not feel up to skiing. From our trials and triumphs, here's the wisdom I have gained.

Do plan long drives to coincide with bedtime. We left home just after the girls would normally go to bed, and they slept peacefully in their carseats for most of the 4 hour drive. No diaper changes or feedings needed. I wish we had used the same approach for the trip home!
Do bring more toys & stuffed animals than you think you'll need. It's amazing how many comforts and diversions of home we take for granted. When you're away from home with tots, you miss them a million times over.
Do your grocery shopping when you get there. Since you'll need to buy food anyway, save yourself the space for packing. And while we're on the subject of food...
Do stay in a place with a kitchen. No one likes eating out with fussy or crying children. An added bonus is that you can eat when you're hungry, not an hour later when your food arrives.
Do take turns "babysitting" so each parent can have time off just for fun. Also take some time to do something kid-friendly together.
Do your best to find ways to accommodate normal nap routines. Believe me, this will be the biggest sanity-preserver.

Don't try to take the scenic route with small children in the car. Especially when it means you may be miles from the next Tim Hortons. (You never know when you might need to stop for an emergency diaper change, or to make up a bottle.) Tip: In waking hours, children hate being restrained for long periods.
Don't forget that family vacations should be fun for the kids too! While child safety in unfamiliar places is always our first concern, we moms sometimes need to back off and just let the children PLAY.

Where we managed to follow this advice, our vacation was quite a treat. If I can manage to follow all my own advice the next time we go away together as a family, it will be even better!

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