Now that summer is nearing an end and we've completed most of our big trips of the year, I can't help but think back and notice a few patterns in my thought process when preparing to travel with my young child. While the thought of taking my two-year-old son on an airplane sends shivers down my spine, guys, let me tell you, we have still managed many trips with him. It's not impossible to travel great distances with children, I can assure you.
My son has been on more overnights than I can count, though we've had the distinct pleasure (*cough*) of going on all of them by car. Not that I have anything against flying, but I like taking, oh, pretty much everything we own with us when we travel, just in case my son will need something specific while we are away. I mean, what if he needs that one nighttime book that we actually haven't read together for two weeks? Checking that many bags would be nothing short of mind-numbingly expensive, so driving, for us, works.
So far, I can't say whether or not this method of travel has actually helped us more than booking a flight would, but no one that we've visited has disowned us (yet) so it seems to be serving it's purpose. The logic behind, "OMG let's pack everything we own," is merely a small representation of the planning and preparation that's required when traveling with small kids (or, at least my small kid). Here's a sampling of the other thoughts that occur, because you can never pre over-prepared.
"Maybe He Will Sleep Through The Actual Travel Part?"
Alright, I've done the math so I know that expecting a toddler to sleep for six hours in the middle of the day is a tall order. Still, a girl can dream, right? I mean, if I'm going to make it through a long, extended road trip with a child, I need room to hope.
"Do I Really Need To Pack Two Different Kinds Of Strollers And A High Chair And A Pack 'N Play?"
Well, Pack 'n Play has Pack in its name, so that one's a no-brainer. Surely they would call it a "Leave At Home" 'n Play if that's what we were supposed to do. If you're questioning why two strollers could be necessary, then we'll have to schedule some time on another day, when I don't have travel looming over me, to discuss in more detail.
"At Least We're Not Flying/Driving/Traveling By Boat/Taking A Covered Wagon"
It could always be worse. At least, this is what I tell myself when I look at our route and realize we're destined to be stuck in rush hour traffic ten minutes from our destination, which will likely turns a five-hour car trip into a seven-hour car trip.
"I Can Do This"
Sure, there's a chance that my son, too, will discover a passion for the open road and the soundtrack from Wicked, just like is mom. There's also a chance he will be a totes normal two-year-old and reject every form of entertainment I try to offer him from the front seat of the car. Either way, I've already committed to this trip. It's going to happen. I'm ready.
"I Cannot Do This"
My childhood BFF would understand if I skip out on the wedding because my son had a meltdown at mile three, right? Not that I'm planning for this to happen, I just like knowing what my options are.
"Is 28 T-Shirts Enough? How About 4 Tubes Of Sunscreen?"
Let's see, the trip is five days, and he averages two shirts a day, plus a few extras if we eat spaghetti and possibly one if we have some major blowout and maybe another three if we go to a park so, yes, 28 shirts is probably going to cover it. Let's go with that.
"Can We Afford To Hire A Nanny To Go On A Long Cart Trip With Us?"
If yes, then I need to look into making this happen for our next trip. If no, then I need to look into starting this as a business venture to possibly fund our next trip.
"It's Not Really A Vacation If I Still Have To Do Everything I Normally Do"
It's more like a working vacation. Or, a work trip. Alright, perhaps it's more like one of those wilderness adventure trips that are supposed to make you really independent and earthy. Something about traveling in a small confined space with a toddler will surely make one feel connected to our animalistic impulses, right?
"This Is Going To Be Great"
No matter how difficult the actual travel portion is, arriving at our destination is totally going to be worth it. I have to keep telling myself that in order to believe it, and in order to find motivation to fold that final freakin' shirt into the suitcase I'm packing that's holding more than his dad's and mine combined. It's all going to be worth it.