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Traveling with a Toddler

Traveling with a Toddler | CosmosMariners.com

Hi, I'm Natalie! I have a wild and crazy (but still seriously awesome) toddler named Britton. Here we are:

I'll bet you can guess which one is me. (Hint: I'm the taller one.)

When people find out that I work as a travel blogger, they're usually intrigued. When they find out that I do most of that traveling with my one-year-old, they look at me like I'm crazy. 

I understand the looks. I really do. Sometimes I wonder if I actually am crazy for taking Britton as many places as I do. After all, there are certain challenges that come along with trying to show your child the wonders of the world. 

The struggles of traveling with a toddler start from the moment I begin packing. I open the suitcase, and Britton jumps in. I haul her out and shovel some pants and a few shirts into the place she's just unoccupied. Everything's going smoothly until I look over and see her innocently walking around with the as-yet-unpacked underwear on her head and carrying a small bottle of mouthwash, which she--naturally--is trying to wrench open with her eight tiny teeth. 

I take away the underwear and mouthwash, and she starts wailing, as this is clearly a crime against humanity. I put her next to the suitcase in the hopes that I can entertain her while I finish packing. 

I go to the closet, grab a few more pairs of shoes, and turn back, only to see that half of my suitcase's contents are now in Britton's lap. I put the clothes back in the suitcase, she wails, I try to soothe her, she calms down, I begin to pack again, she takes the clothes back out---and the cycle repeats itself. 

When (WHEW!) I've finally finished packing my stuff (an act that took at least five times longer than normal), we go through the entire song and dance as we pack Britton's stuff. 

Oh, but the fun has just begun at this point. 

We're getting ready to head out on our road trip--armed with juice, milk, snacks, blankets, toys, books, and whatever else I'm think will keep her happy for several hours--and I'm sure I've gotten everything right this time. 

We pull out of the driveway, and Britton starts looking sleepy. 

SWEET! Britton's going to sleep the entire way there, I think.

I mentally pat myself on the back for being such an awesome person and for finally (FINALLY) figuring out how to balance being a mom and following my dreams. 

Thirty minutes into the drive, someone on the road lays down on the horn. Look who's up in the backseat! 

The rest of the road trip is spent tossing crackers and toys to the grumpy toddler who adamantly refuses to go back to sleep. 

We pull into the hotel parking lot. Out comes Britton, her backpack, and her favorite stuffed animal. Check-in goes smoothly, as Britton charms the front desk staff. 

We head up to the room, and I'm ready to put Britton down for the night. I'll put some notes together for tomorrow's tour, I think. I'm going to be totally prepared! I have brief dreams of having time to work on a few freelance articles, too. 

But Britton has other ideas. She hates the hotel. From the moment I put her into her pajamas, she starts wailing. I start hoping that the hotel owners sprung for extra-thick wall insulation. 

She falls asleep in my arms, exhausted after crying for ten minutes. I carefully put her in her pack-and-play, but the moment her head touches the sheet, she wakes up and starts crying again. After two hours of this, I give up, get ready for bed myself, and fall asleep holding her. 

At 1:30 a.m., Britton wakes up with a jolt. "MAAAAAAAAAAMMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" she screams, and I nearly come out of my skin in terror. More rocking and soothing occurs. She finally goes back to sleep. 

The next morning, we both head out to find something to eat. Britton's a bit bleary eyed, but otherwise happy.

"Grab me a croissant and some cocoa, Mama. I'm just catching up on the news."
At breakfast, I'm furiously reading through background material and press notes to get myself ready for our day's activities.

I strap her into her stroller, and we head out. When we get to our first stop of the day, she's being so good that I decide to let her hold my hand and walk beside me. We're at an interactive museum, so it's pretty kid safe. She watches me unbuckle her and, with a smile, bolts away from me. She runs up to a random woman and starts patting her on the leg. 

Completely embarrassed, I run after her, my camera flopping around my neck as I try to push the stroller, grasp my notepad and pencil, and keep my purse from falling. 

I retrieve my toddler from the person she's cornered, put Britton back into her stroller, and prepare to take notes. She starts wailing, as I'm a terrible, terrible mother for restraining her. 

I wonder for the ninetieth time why I haven't bought one of those kid leashes.  

She calms down and we go through the rest of the museum. I take lots of notes and even more pictures. 

We eat, we go to another place, we go back to the hotel. 

By the end of the road trip, I'm exhausted. In the last few days, I've gotten enough material to write half a dozen blog posts and I've taken several hundred pictures. I've also run after Britton approximately 150 times, told her to drop something 90 times, and been pretty sure we were getting kicked out of somewhere at least once. 

I head home, ready to share the load of Britton with my husband. But when I get there, he looks at me and says, "You know, I've been thinking. Wouldn't it be great if we took Britton away for a fun family weekend?"

I know I'll end up saying yes because I love to travel. But only if Landon helps me pack. 

Have you ever traveled with a toddler? What were your tried-and-true methods for keeping everyone happy?