The TRUTH about Travelling with a Toddler

The TRUTH about Travelling with a Toddler
October 19, 2017 reviejane

Okay! So travelling with a toddler – I completely underestimated this. I feel like I need a disclaimer as I can already hear the hashtag #firstworldproblems circulating this post.

So – DISCLAIMER: If you’re new around these traps, please know that I love my child and being a mum more than anything! I don’t want to seem ungrateful, I totally am but I love being completely open and honest about ALL of my experiences as a first time mama.  I’m not writing this to scare other parents or to have a whinge. It just feels right to be transparent with you so you don’t compare your past travels or upcoming trip to a single photo on my Instagram and feel like we had the “perfect” trip.
I was inspired to write this after I saw some of my lovely followers write “you look so rejuvenated!” and “you look so refreshed!” on my Instagram post. Nearly fell off my chair reading that, Clay and I felt anything but refreshed, particularly on the photo they had commented on. We laughed to each other (kind of because if we didn’t we would of cried.)  Oh, the power of make up, thank you Sephora and all of your magical products. #ConcealerIsLyf

On our recent travels to Queenstown, Rarotonga and Aitutaki, we had a ball and some magical memories to hold on to forever. But it was NOT relaxing. Travelling with our toddler has been exhausting. I would do this trip again in a heartbeat for the fun we had when Lexi was good. Nothing made us happier as her parents to see Lex discover, explore and learn so much but I think we didn’t have the right expectations for our holiday. We were thinking we would have a relaxing time, celebrating our 5th Wedding Anniversary. We were not prepared for what was to come. Technically, yes we had a holiday but I think it’s safe to declare that my definition of a holiday has hereby changed since entering parenthood.

Things you do on holidays BEFORE becoming a Mum:

  • Lay by pool.
  • Read book.
  • Snorkel.
  • Talk to spouse uninterrupted.
  • Sleep well. For as long as you please.
  • Repeat.

Things you do on holidays AFTER becoming a Mum:

  • Stress out that your child is going to lose it on the plane
  • Refrain toddler from harassing other passengers
  • Have dinner every night at 5pm
  • Then stay in hotel room from 6pm onwards. Trying to be as discreet as possible.
  • This may also include having to wee outdoors because toddler is in portacot, placed in bathroom
  • Wonder if there are rules against putting portacot in cupboard
  • Test how far Baby Monitor reception will stretch
  • Pack a book for yourself and laugh at your naive stupid ass
  • Build forts and shade in attempt to make a part of your villa dark enough for nap time
  • At all times keep count of how many nappies and wipes you have
  • Stop toddler from wandering off in the ocean
  • Stop toddler from eating crusty toenails on airport floor
  • Stop toddler from ramming strangers with luggage trolley
  • Stop toddler from throwing tantrum in nice restaurant that you knew would be a mistake
  • Stop toddler from interrupting other patrons romantic dinners especially if there looks to be potential proposal
  • Fail at holding conversation with team mate aka husband
  • Constantly watch pools edge and put hat on toddlers head 17 thousand times

Perhaps there should just always be inverted commas when Mum’s and Dad’s say the word holiday. Like yeah, “holiday.” It’s more of a trip. Let’s call it our trip!

This was Lexi’s first time away from home for longer than 2 nights and before this trip she had never been on a plane. So, to be fair, it was a lot for an 18 month old to take in with everything else a toddler has to process. We now understand completely why so many parents arrange baby sitters, family or a nanny while on “holidays.”

Once we got to our second destination, Rarotonga (Cook Islands)  ‘acting out’ is putting it nicely. Lex started hitting us. Like, in the face, like, intentionally, taking a massive swing and whacking us in the head. (Has never done this before.) Sometimes adding an evil laugh after it. You know, just to add insult to injury.

She also had been completely unsatisfied with everything we’d try to do, asking us for something and then having a complete meltdown when did it for her. By her standards we were failing miserably at everything. And pretty damn unpleasant to be around in general but entirely dependant on us at the same time. I understood she needed us as her constant so I tried with every piece of my soul to be patient and understanding but I was exhausted.

At home, for the most part we can sit down and have a meal and hold a few conversations, but while away, we could not complete a single sentence to each other. We stopped even trying to talk at meals, as there was no point. By the time her bed time rolled around at 7-8pm we were that exhausted we’d mutter “g’night” to each other and try to fall asleep as fast as possible to have the energy to deal with what we’re given when she woke up.  It felt as though Lex demanded every inch of energy from each of us while she was awake. We felt like we were doing everything wrong, like we were failing as parents and we could not help but question going away. I wanted to pack it up and go home. I wanted to legit throw my own damn tantrum and say “BUT WHAT ABOUT MY HOLIDAY!!!”! So close… but I managed to refrain because… I’m an adult.

After a particularly tough day with Lex, Clay was gobsmacked by her behaviour and I caught him in lying in bed retracing his steps with her. His eyes were stinging, he was defeated and he looked like a wreck. He ha

s the patience of a monk so for her to break him I knew she really was out of sorts. Even though I was in the same boat as him and at a loss myself of trying to rationalise the situations that had unravelled that day, I understand that feeling he had so well. That feeling of inadequacy as a parent. The “Maybe I’m not cut out for this?” feeling. The “If I can’t even handle one how are we going to do handle two!?” feeling. In the first 12 months with Lexi I had been there multiple times, but for him, it was a first and I really felt for the guy. 

Once we got to Aitutaki, things started looking up, as Lexi adjusted to the new norm of living out of a suitcase and port-a-cort. Then, we were so glad we stuck it out. There were moments in Aitutaki where we have never seen her so thrilled. Smiling from ear to ear, building the courage to meet new friends all by herself (now you know why I was so touched by the story of her and her friend Emily) and frolicking in knee deep ocean, butt naked and completely enchanted with joy.

There are moments that Clay and I will treasure for the rest of our lives. You know the moments where you mentally hit the record button and they are filed away in your head. Moments I will dig out  if something is troubling me at night and I can’t get to sleep.

I certainly missed my community of mums I see at the gym so much, who, whenever we’re going through a tough phase would simply remind me “it’s okay, this too shall pass!” and “when we were away my kid did *fill in the blanks*” and you would automatically feel so much better knowing you weren’t the only one.

At the end of the day, we LEARNT from it! Here are the few things I would do differently next time:

  • Try to stay in one place or maybe just two, for the time we are away.
  • Not be so stressed about the plane ride and other people. When Lexi had her few moments on the plane, no one gave a rat’s ass. They were episodes deep in the last season of Game of Thrones with headphones on.
  • Reach out sooner to friends back home. It was so good chatting to other mama’s about how I was struggling and made me gain some sanity/fuel to tackle the next day with Lexi
  • ALWAYS ask for a spare seat next to you on the plane ride (thanks to those who suggested this, it was a lifesaver!)
  • Pre-organise a babysitter for you and your partner and book in what you will do during that allocated time. The one time we got a babysitter in Aitutaki we were so disheveled we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. (Lol!)
  • Lastly, shift your perspective on a “holiday” Yep, if you’re going away with your new babe and no minder, think of it as an adventure more so than a time to sit back and relax.

As a whole, we loved our trip and most importantly we all learnt and grew from it. Lexi has gained a whole heap of confidence and also gained a greater ability to adapt to change. She learnt heaps more words and is a world more social than when we left.

It certainly was not a perfect trip, but it had perfect moments which are priceless.  The purpose of this post is to do what I always hope to achieve in my posts – help others feel less alone and to be completely transparent with you all. Remember that this is just my experience and that each toddler is an individual. Your babe might be a total Travel King or Queen! Who knows!? I just know it’s worth finding out!

Love,

Revie x

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Revie Jane Schulz
Blogger, Fitness Expert & Social Influencer

20 Comments

  1. Hayley 2 months ago

    Love this revie, thank you for keeping it real!
    We were thinking of going away with our 3 month old at Christmas for a “ holiday”. May have to think twice now!🙈

    Oh and Lex is the biggest cutie- those photos are adorable Xx

    • Laura 2 months ago

      Actually they say going away with a 3 month old is probably better than going with a toddler! The best age to go is apparently 3-9 months, before they can walk/run.

    • Wardah 2 months ago

      We travel every 2-3 months W our 2.5 year old and trust me,its WAY easier to travel W a baby who doesn’t crawl or walk OR talk!

  2. Hayley 2 months ago

    Love this revie, thank you for keeping it real!
    We were thinking of going away with our 3 month old at Christmas for a “ holiday”. May have to think twice now!🙈

    Oh and Lex is the biggest cutie- those photos are adorable Xx

  3. Julia Cavé 2 months ago

    Hi Revie!

    I truly appreciate you sharing this. I’ve been following you since you were late in your pregnancy and I hastagged 41weeks since I was obv 41weeks too at the time. We also didn’t find it the gender before birth and thought it was awesome that there was someone else out there who didn’t as well!

    Anywho. I’ve followed you on snap forever as well and sometimes, I gotta admit, I feel like… dang it. It seems way easier for them with Lexi than with me and my bubba and I’d get confused as to what I’m doing wrong. I know you tend to share a lot the ups and downs but this really made
    Me realize that no matter how much we post that picture perfect picture. All of us mamas are going through the same thing. I do wish that I had a stronger community of mamas around me (by that I mean I have 0)! So I’m happy that you can at least reach out in times like this to yours, and I’ll try to build one myself as it seems to work for you.

    Thank you for sharing this.
    My Instagram is @juliacave_

  4. Vera Lysenko-Te Hau 2 months ago

    You’ve certainly hit the nail on the head with absolutely everything. As parents we give up so much of ourselves from the get go and this really never stops until, well i guess until we go to our grave! But that’s a small price to pay for the obvious and not so obvious rewards of raising growing little souls. I love how much I’ve personally seen you grow Revie, both as an individual and a mama, you’ve always presented beyond your years, and have always come out on top when faced with a challenge. Love u girl, and omg that pic of Lex on the suitcase has me in fits!!! 😀

  5. Zoe 2 months ago

    This made me laugh so much, as we went through the whole process in August when we took our 13 month old to Port Douglas for a week, everything you said was exactly how I felt, me and my husband left our holiday feeling deflated. I couldn’t believe that travelling around Europe for a month with a 3 month old baby was easier then 1 week in Port Douglas with a 13 month old toddler. But now I look back with only the best memories and would do it all over again in a heart beat, as each time will only get easier as we learn how to travel with our littlest babes and the experience for them is worth all the heartache we go through. Loved your blog post.

  6. Amanda 2 months ago

    100% Yes!! After coming back from travels to the UK with 2 under 3 I can say Yes to all the same challenges and suggestions… I think the biggest thing which you said was make some time for yourself… even if it was night off from the children… even if it feels harder to organise it then to just about the battle yourself, you will than yourself for the time to yourselves!
    Thanks again for keeping it honest and real, its always reassuring to read other mothers who feel EXACTLY the same as you about things!!!

  7. Cilla 2 months ago

    Really refreshing to read this! Most things on instagram are so sugar coated and it’s comforting to know everyone has the same experiences with toddlers! Well done for taking the chance and going on the holiday- that itself takes a lot of guts!

  8. Georgia 2 months ago

    Omggg I couldn’t have summed this up better if I tried!!! Spot on!

    Such a wonderful read, I really thought we were the only ones putting the bub to bed at 6:30 then having to tip toe around the rest of the evening so we didn’t wake her!

    We ended up sleeping at 7:00 cause there was nothing to do if you can’t make noise! 😩

    Loved this, thank you for keeping it real and writing about it so perfectly.

  9. Hannah 2 months ago

    Ahhhh I just read this nodding my head and totally agreeing with every single thing you said. When everyone asked how Hawaii was I could only say ‘it was nice, certainly wasn’t relaxing’ 😂😂 The plane ride was probably the best part of our holiday haha
    Sounds like you guys held it together so well though and embraced the new adventure and appreciated the time for what it was. We’ve missed you around the traps, can’t wait to see you and commiserate about those books we never got to read

  10. Nikki 2 months ago

    Love this, we recently travelled with our 3 month old. He was an absolute gem and I still felt like I wasn’t on holiday!

  11. Nikki 2 months ago

    Well done on giving it a go Rev! Now you know why we waited 27 yrs to have a holiday 😂 though we did find out that even though they’re adults and we were on the other side of the world, they still have an inbuilt ability to interrupt you at the worst possible times 🙄 will it ever end???? 😂

  12. Jorja 2 months ago

    We have travelled a lot with our 1.5 year old since she was just a few months old, and now that she is running around I find the biggest challenge is eating out at restaurants several times each day. She just doesn’t sit still, so much husband and I have to take it in turns walking around with her while the other one eats their meal. So no nice long romantic dinners. But other than that, I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and I am glad we have gotten to show our daughter all of these amazing places.

  13. Taryn 2 months ago

    Yes to everything in this post! We just went to Bali with our 18month old son and I think I could have written this blog myself haha I’m sitting here nodding my head at everything you’ve said. Love that you always keep it real!

  14. Lee 2 months ago

    Thanks so much for this refreshingly honest post Revie! As much as I love my children, holidaying with them is just “parenting in a different location” but without all my support people, the kids toys and comfy beds! My husband and I have agreed that until the kids are older, small, regular road trips are more suited for our family with the overseas/interstate trips left for mum and dad only time. But whatever works best for your family is all that matters 🙂

  15. Naima 2 months ago

    Hi Revie,

    I definitely feel you. When our bubba was 6months old,we traveled with him and it was ok (even with all the time line of when to sleep and eat and the unbroken sleep) and we really had a great time. But when he was 9 almost 10 months old, I felt like it was a nightmare instead of a holiday. Me and my hubby were so cranky and upset and for us it was the worste time ever. But i’ve learned that maybe next time we will take it easy 😄 Thank you for being so open about it and I really laughed at some points because it so true. Now he is 1year old and maybe in april I will suggest to my hubby to go away for 1 week just him and I. Love you and Lexi is THE cutest girl

  16. Selina 2 months ago

    Thank you so much for being so honest. I love how real you are. I laughed so hard at times reading this. I have been following you (I’m from Los Angeles) since I was pregnant and your posts/stories have been so inspirational. Im
    a first time mama myself! Our daughter is almost 16 months and my husband and I have yet to leave her anywhere overnight, and we’ve only taken a 1 night trip locally. I will make sure to read this once again once we have the courage to take her on a longer trip!!! Keep the stories/posts coming, thank you AGAIN!!!

  17. Kimberly w. 2 months ago

    We recently took our toddler (same age as Lexi) to Hawaii. Her first plan ride as well. And 100% agree with your feelings about pre- and post-Baby vacations! It was still a lot of work for us as parents, but it was so worth it for those moments of pure happiness on our little one’s face! We went into the vacation not having any plans to do anything- just take it day by day. That helped us relax a little bit more and not worry about an agenda or any time commitments. With all that said, I would take another vacation with her in a heartbeat!

  18. Amanda O' Mahony 2 months ago

    As per usual babe, a great and honest read. You never fail me 😉 My little guy is 4 and we still have this when we go away (even to a local hotel for a night). It’s just not easy when you’re responsible for a little person. Thanks for your honesty lovely. Looking forward to your next blog and vlog! #snapfam 💕

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