Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The wonderful thing about family travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.- Dave Barry

There's no such thing as vacationing with a 1 year old. You can travel, yes, but not vacation.

Last week we trekked out to northern California for a wedding and a Peace Corps Reunion. Both were a blast. But boy how things have changed. The first Peace Corps wedding we went to was Errol and Sara's. A weekend of debauchery, rowdiness, and de-trousering. A few short years later and we are renting a house so we can cram 6 Peace Corps babies and 10 adults into one spot. We're talkin' organic baby snacks galore, toys covered in snot, and bleary eyes not from alcohol consumption, but because your kid wanted to see how many windows they could break with their piercing screams. (Thankfully, no windows broken, only eardrums and patience.)

Rigley certainly made a good run at the "Crankiest Baby" competition, but you really need to hold the parents responsible for such a strong showing. We made her sleep in 3 different places in 2 different pack-n-plays and spend more time in her car seat than the rest of her life combined (who knew California was so big?). Rigley was a champ, but we pushed her a little too hard. Not that we accepted the blame at the time. Having not slept more than an hour in 2 nights, we may have... sort of... said a few things... out loud... that maybe we... regret now. Rigs may have been in the running for "Crankiest Baby," but we blew away the competition for "Crankiest Parents." As of now, the nasty things screamed back at the baby will forever be swept under the rug and chalked up as one of those moments when you feel ashamed as a parent.

Traveling is tough with kids. No doubt. But what's the alternative. We said many times over the past week,"We're never traveling again." At least until Rigley is in her early 30's. By then we'll be in our 60's and she'll be changing my diaper in the middle of the night while I scream for some warm milk. Until then we're doing a cost benefit analysis for each trip. This one to California? A no brainer. A great wedding and celebration I would have taken 15 screaming 1 year olds to. Heck isn't that how all trips are? Well worth the price you pay? So maybe, since the trips must be taken, we're looking for travel tips with toddlers. Reply to this post with your best ideas or at least most embarrassing moments. It'll either be helpful or soothing.


Kate Seager said...

I can't tell you how many times we've come back from a vacation and declared that it was the last vacation we are ever taking. Just keep doing it, really. We started traveling with Wes when he was 5 weeks old and we haven't stopped. The car rides suck, always have, always will and there have been a couple of harrowing plane rides (and now he loves those), but it's always worth it and you get so much better at coping with the annoyances (and the screaming and the whining). And some thing shifted in the last 6 months. He's much easier to travel with now, probably because he's used to it (and yes, I am fully aware I have just jinxed the next trip we have planned by publicly declaring he is good traveler).

Tips? Hmmm..
1. we used to bring baby gates (portable) and cabinet locks with us. Wes was into everything, everywhere and having those made things simpler.
2. We'd also wrap up toys from home in newspaper or old paper for him to open along the way. He loved ripping paper.
3. Snacks, snacks and more snacks
4. Flap books and sticker books can suck up more time that I ever thought imaginable.
5. For sleep help, we always brought familiar things from home. He sleeps with the same buddies no matter where he goes, and now he'll sleep just about anywhere.
6. And, if things are going particularly bad, Andy and I would take shifts. That way we'd each get a break (kind of like when he was a newborn).

And you are right, vacations as you knew them are over. However, as she gets older you'll see how much fun she has experiencing all the things you'll do and it really is one of the best things ever.

And don't beat yourself up about the yelling. We've all done it. One time, I just turned the music up in the car really loud and yelled "I'm not listening to you anymore". Really mature.

Anyway...keep traveling! And I am not just saying this because I want you to visit (ok, maybe a little bit).

Take care,

Maggie said...

One time at DIA when the kids were little, Dave and I were huffing and puffing up to the checkin counter with double stroller, car seats, suitcases, backpacks... it looked (and felt) like we were moving to another country. We were exhausted and we'd only left home an hour ago. This woman was travelling with her two kids, who are about the age Will and Audrey are now. These kids were wheeling their own little suitcases and they were carrying their own little backpacks, and the mom is pretty carefree. The mom takes one look at us and says (not smugly, because the words by themselves sound smug, but her tone was sympathetic 'cause she'd clearly been there): Aren't you looking forward to when they get to be this age and they even PACK for themselves?

Rigley really will get older and she'll wheel her own little suitcase. In the meantime, I wish I had those great tips to send your way. But I've mostly blocked out those memories. There's something else that will likely come your way: selective memory. It's a great survival mechanism and has worked for parents for many generations.