The arrival of my daughter has changed the way we live, and also the way we travel. Among the most remarkable characteristics of travelling with toddler are these I have observed on our travels this summer:
- the smaller the child – the bigger the luggage: count with me: nappies, milk, bottles, clothes, blankets, stuffed toys, other toys, hats, shoes, socks, bag full of medicine (just in case), more cosmetics then mommy (I am not that keen on special creams, but my daughter has 3 different creams for her butt !) and please, don’t forget the snacks for the plane, the food jars, the bibs, the special spoons… one bag for mommy and daddy, one huge bag for baby. Add stroller and carseat you need a truck – oh, you were just planning travelling light for a weekend city trip ? There, there…
- prepare distractions – toys, preferably those she doesn’t know – buy a new book at the airport, bring colour pencils (they are fun to fish for under the plane seat or your neighbour’s feet, with baby strapped on your lap of course), squeaky toys to annoy the hell from the other passengers who don’t understands that these are the quieter ones you had… she will end up sleeping through the flight or playing with the folding table and the paper coffee cup (no, of course you can’t get coffee on a plane, you could burn the baby – you just ask for the cup for her to play with). But you were ready.
- you are not scared of the right things: Afraid of the long wait at the airport: at the airport, she enjoys riding on the moving sidewalks with daddy, over and over again… loves the security check with the funny beeps. On the plane enjoys turbulence and shrieks for more. Afraid of a long ferry ride: enjoys looking at the boats outside the window and keeps going round to see all the doggies on board – has more fun then on the playground. The day you arrive, the sea is stormy and waves are high. She comes with you in the water and has fun. Next day, the sea is calm, it’s sunny, you relax, sitting down on the beach under the parasol and try to bring the baby in the warm water… She refuses to go and cries if you try to wet her feet. She steals toys from neighbours and only wants to play with the doggy who sleeps on the nearby towel. You can go for a drink in a bar on the beach only if they have a case of empty bottles in a corner that she can stand next to and rearrange over and over again…
- you think you have found the best way to keep her quiet for a bit – give her your phone or tablet to watch little videos in. You don’t expect the shrieking monster she turns into if you try to take the thing off her because you have arrived at destination and you need to leave the plane/bus/car.
- a nappy can be changed standing up. The pull up nappies are actually quite practical when the toilets don’t have a changing area or if that’s busy. Unless the toddler sees something interesting and runs off through the open door (big NO NO!) and runs butt-naked into the Duty free stores or just the shop at the petrol station… Good luck catching her again. This is the best game ever mommy, yeah!
- Food: although most places now allow you to heat up your baby food jar, this is useless. She will not eat half a spoon of that. But of you get a croissant, ham and cheese sandwich, a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate, a bit of “saucisson”… she will bite your fingers off to get to it.
- Sparkling water drunk by parents tickles and makes toddler make funny faces, but is apparently irresistible.
- Straws have been invented so that toddlers can tax anything you have bought to drink for yourself. Learn to live with it and buy a big box of straws.
- Don’t even dare get a hot drink. It will be spilled and most probably on you… Have a change of clothes for you at hand.
- If you are desperate start making animal noises (all those you can remember) or mime “Trois petites marionettes” with your hands… and be prepared to do it over and over and over again…