Tips For Any Trip
Start rested. As difficult as it may be, try to finish all your packing and arrangements the day before your departure. This lets all of you take a deep breath before the trip begins. From our experience, much of what we're tempted to chalk up to jet lag or an uncooperative airline agent stems from the stress of having been up half the night tending to last-minute details.
Get excited. Talk about the trip and the destination with your child, and involve her in the planning. When she confronts the real thing, the familiarity will be reassuring to her. And you'll be surprised at what she absorbs: Cleo, now 2, asks of every airplane she sees: "Going Arizona?"
Watch Barney-the-Greek. For planning advice, our favorite book is Have Kid, Will Travel, by Claire Tristram (Andrews & McMeel, 1997). But trust your own judgment too. If we had followed Tristram's advice and removed the TV from our hotel room abroad, Cleo would never have had the enthralling cultural experience of being introduced to Barney the dinosaur in Greek.
Do it together. When packing, let your child help choose her outfits, but make sure you can mix, match, and layer her options. And accept that your space in the luggage will be what little is left over once your child's every need has been met.
Lighten your load. If you are a chronic overpacker, read Judith Gilford's The Packing Book (Ten Speed Press, 1998). Then practice what you've learned by not packing the book.
Stroll on. Strollers are truly handy-as restaurant seats, as nap venues, and especially as baggage carriers.
Pack a portable potty. Unfamiliar bathrooms can seem pretty intimidating to a toddler who's learning to use the potty, so carry an inflatable or portable potty seat and expect some setbacks. We use Graco's Folding Potty, which weighs only ounces.
Make time for teddy. Often what little ones want most when they're traveling is what they already know. Schedule a visit to a favorite fast-food restaurant or some quiet one-on-one time with a beloved stuffed animal.
BYO diapers. Disposable diapers are available almost everywhere in the world, but they can be expensive. If you're traveling internationally, pack up to an entire bag's worth. Coming back, use the space for souvenirs.
Rent right. Instead of transporting all of your baby items or having the grandparents buy their own, look for a local rental service. We do this, and Cleo's Arizona grandparents love that they don't have to store a crib, a high chair, and a basket of age-appropriate toys that go unused 51 weeks a year. Have a local friend or relative look in the Yellow Pages under "crib rentals." You can also pick up toys at a Salvation Army when you reach your destination and donate them back when you're through.