Everything I Need to Know About Travel I Learned From My Toddler

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A good bag, water bottle, wipes and snacks are essentials for travel.

OK, so he is a big boy preschooler now. But my son was a toddler when I took him and his daddy to Italy with me for a work trip. And in getting ready for the journey, I felt my travel systems were in peak form. I laughed when I realized I was packing my carry on as I would a diaper bag, and that mothering skills helped me anticipate all sorts of possible problems or needs. That said, here’s a little mommy wisdom I hope you can use:

The right bag is key. Look for one with many compartments so you can find things easily and retrieve vitals with one hand if need be. A secure closure is essential to keep out sticky fingers–whether they belong to a sloppy child or a pickpocket.

Have a change of clothes with you. Even if you are potty-trained, you never know if your checked bag will arrive with you. Have a change of clothes in your carry on.

Carry a snack. Unexpected delays can mean ill-timed hunger. Even those of us over 30 inches tall can get cranky in these instances. A granola bar or bag of nuts can be just the thing.

Bring a sippy cup. An empty reusable water bottle can be refilled with tap water throughout your trip, saving you money and plastic. Refilling the disposable ones doesn’t work as well now, as many bottlers have moved to flimsy bottles that contain less plastic. Bring your own sturdy bottle, and be sure it seals tightly, so you can toss it in your bag with no worry about leaks.

Wipes and washcloths. Baby wipes are just the thing for an airport wipe-down or other spontaneous grooming or hygiene needs. Hand sanitizer is good too. And baby washcloths are perfect to travel with, as they are thin, dry quickly, and are cheap enough to leave behind.

Pace yourself. This is the hardest one. But a toddler forces you to slow down, to stop and rest or stare at bugs or other little things in the environment. Parenting the young, you must often rearrange your day or let go of expectations for what you can get done. Listen to your inner toddler! Rest your feet when you are tired. Skip a museum and spend time petting the local dogs instead. A little stroll around the park can reawaken your senses and refresh your sense of wonder. And it just may save you a temper tantrum later.


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