A few weeks ago my husband and his friends decided to go on a much-needed guys trip. So my girlfriend and I said, ” Um, okay, but don’t think we’re just going to sit at home and wait for you to come home!” We needed a little time for ourselves too – so we packed our bags, loaded up the kids and off to the coast we went. Since it was just the two of us girls and our kids (her two and my one) we needed to go somewhere entertaining. We decided Santa Cruz, that way they can run around, ride all the rides and have some fun in the sun on the Boardwalk.
Since this was just a weekend getaway, we didn’t want to go far. Luckily for us, we live in an area where we can choose to go either direction and the mountains would be two hours one direction and the beach is two hours in the other direction which makes it easier to travel with a toddler. We went on the first weekend of Summer and in California, the Summer gets a little toasty so the beach with the cool salty breeze and a high of 77 sounded really nice!
When you think of traveling with a baby or toddler, the first thing that probably comes to mind is “that just seems too stressful” and like a lot of work and don’t get me wrong, it can be stressful and a lot of work but that is why my How to Travel with a Toddler – Tips & Tricks will be good read before you take your tot on a trip further than just across town.
The Car Ride
When you’re traveling with a toddler, heck, even if you’re just out going to run errands with your toddler – the car ride could be the most stressful part of the whole trip. For my son Lane, I make sure there is always something in my car he can play with. His favorite is this one of a steering wheel it makes him think he’s driving and keeps him entertained for quite a while.
Luckily, Lane had some friends with him for this trip which leads me to a tip.
Tip Number 1.
If possible, travel with friends and family with other kids. Kids entertain each other all day. Lane is a year and a half and my friend’s kids are 5 and 7. The bigger kids had their tablets and were playing games which kept Lane entertained practically the whole time. It could be as simple as that.
Tip Number 2.
Don’t be afraid to turn the music on a little louder than usual. We love to sing and dance in the car plus it’s just too cute when your little one is just learning and trying to dance and clap along to the beat!
Tip Number 3.
Get them nice and full before you hit the road. After all the singing and dancing plus the interaction with the other kids – your little tot will barely be able to their eyes open and then its snoozeville for the rest of the ride which means you will have a nice happy and chipper one for the rest of the day!
Easy Tips & Tricks
Don’t over pack! – Packing is another stressor, especially when you’re packing for your little one. I am definitely guilty of over packing as I’m sure everyone is. But really just take what you need. If you don’t use something at home chances are you’re not going to use it when you’re on your trip either.
If you are going to be walking a lot you may want to bring a stroller or carrier. I brought my stroller because not only was it nice not having to carry Lane all day – our stroller reclines so if he wanted to take a nap he could at any time plus it has the basket underneath for easy storage for the diaper bag or your purse.
You will need extra clothes and this is where I’m always guilty in over packing. I swear I can pack just enough for me but when it comes to Lane I always bring so much – I’m ge
tting better at it though! A couple of pair of shorts, sweats, a sweater or two, tanks or shirts, a long sleeve, and some shoes and he’s good!
I have to remind myself that he only needs enough jammies for the nights that we’ll be gone. I don’t know why but when I pack, I end up packing a lot of jammies……… (This is something I’m working on fixing)
Bring Snacks – Snacks are a must! Lane can snack all day. He would rather have a bunch of snacks throughout the day rather than having breakfast – snack – lunch – snack – dinner. When you are on vacation or a little weekend getaway try to remember if you have a routine at home it will most likely be left at the door while you’re gone. Let them snack!
Some good snack ideas are:
- string cheese
- yogurt squeeze
- crackers and cheese
Have a Plan – Make sure you have a plan. This will make your life and your trip much easier. Now, I’m not saying you have to have a mapped out itinerary…. just have a general idea of what you’re going to do.
We stayed in a hotel and our check-in wasn’t until 3 pm or later. Since we got to Santa Cruz around noon our plan was: a quick lunch to fuel up the kiddos, hit the Boardwalk for a while then the beach and finally go check in to drop off our bags and then back to the Boardwalk for
some more fun.
We ended up having too much fun with the unlimited passes (another tip) that we didn’t leave the Boardwalk until about 9 pm. I say another tip because the unlimited passes meant the kids can ride as many rides as many times as they wanted which ultimately meant we had happy kids all day that weren’t going to get bored and upset when the tickets ran out. This is very important for the sake of your sanity!!!
The next day was more of a relax and explore day. We ended up driving to Monterey and walked around for a little and then hung out on the beach before it was back on the road and back to reality.
Fun While it Lasts
Remember it was just me and my friend and we had a toddler and a 5 and 7-year-old with us and had the best time. I think my best tip or trick to traveling with a toddler is to leave the rule book at home. Have fun and make the most of making memories. Let the little monsters be monsters and ride the rides, build sand castles, eat churros
and ice cream. All you have to do is enjoy your trip and save those smiles and the laughter in your memory book to look back at!
If you have any stories of traveling with a toddler or tips and tricks don’t forget to comment with them below. I would love to hear about them!
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