Last month, we were able to take a short family vacation to the Pacific Northwest – Seattle, Washington! I left home a few days earlier for several work events, and KK was brave enough to fly solo with our two-year-old to meet me there.
Sassafras has now been on a couple of short flights, one at 18 months old and another at 28 months, and we have been able to gather a few traveling tips along the way.
- Choosing a flight time – When we first flew with Sassafras, we thought picking a time during or close to nap time would be the best, since then she could just nap on the entire flight and be rested when we landed. In theory, this would have been great, but we quickly realized our child is over-stimulated by new things/people/experiences, and so she was even more awake! This time we chose early evening flight times, which worked well on the departure flight (since she had a 3 hour nap that day), but poorly on our return flight (which ended up being delayed 45 minutes and she missed her nap that day). Our flight was only 2.5 hours, and I am scared to attempt anything longer!
- Entertainment – iPad, stickers, coloring books/crayons, books – We packed anything and everything we could to provide loads of entertainment. Of course, the only thing of interest was the iPad, which lasted for about 15 minutes.
- Other carry-on items – Diapers, wipes, extra outfit(s), pacifier (or lollipop or your boob for take-off and landing), lovey, and plenty of snacks
Packing lists will obviously change over time as your child grows and their needs/interests change. In the early days, we felt like we were just short of packing up our entire house (bottles, swaddles, sterilizer, formula, books, toys, travel crib, diapers, wipes, etc.) anytime we decided to travel. We soon realized we did not need to pack many (or any) toys since she was more interested in exploring her new environment and playing with cups, remote controls, paper and tissue anyway.
Since she will no longer sleep in a travel crib, I mainly focused on making sure I had enough weather-appropriate clothes for her. We are used to living in a climate that averages 70 degrees year-round, and as I was packing for the trip I realized I had ZERO winter clothes for Aliya. At home we can get by with leggings, long-sleeve shirts, and a thin jacket in the winter – not so in Seattle! I purchased a couple of essentials (a warmer jacket/parka and boots) for the trip, and we survived! A Southern California native, I am a cold weather weakling and I am certain I would freeze to death in temperatures below 40 degrees.
- Be flexible – I have always been a schedule-oriented person, and when we are home, I try my best to protect her nap and bed time. For special occasions and when we travel, we are much more flexible with these times. Aliya, who is normally a two to three-hour napper at home and a poor napper elsewhere, surprised us by taking naps in her stroller and carseat on the way from place to place. This was not ideal, but it was the best way to maximize our time out while still making sure she was able to get some rest.
- Sleep situation – If you recall one of my recent posts about co-sleeping (i.e. no sleeping) on our last vacation, you might understand the anxiety I was feeling about our sleep situation on this trip! Co-sleeping has never worked for us, and one of my friends suggested using the sofa bed which worked beautifully for us! There were a couple nights she wandered into our room half-asleep, and she was able to fall back asleep with us right away. On the other nights, she would sleep on the couch all night, and climb into our bed in the mornings.
We have definitely had to change the way we vacation with the addition of a child! As an individual or a couple, you can pack in numerous sights, excursions, places to eat, shopping, etc. and have full days. We decided to stay in Seattle for several days so that we would not feel rushed, and we could enjoy doing a couple of things each day without stretching ourselves too thin.
We spent most of our mornings scrounging for coffee and spending time with friends.
Seattle has a variety of kid-friendly activities, many of which are centralized in the Seattle Center. Seattle Center holds a number of tourist attractions including the Space Needle, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Museum, Pacific Science Museum, and a number of different exhibits, fountains, lawns, and room to run around. We visited Seattle Center two or three times on our trip, including the Chihuly Exhibit and the Pacific Science Museum, and Aliya loved it there!
Overall, we had a wonderful, eventful trip (not without a visit to Urgent Care to treat Sassafras’ allergic reaction to some antibiotics she had been taking prior to the trip) full of sightseeing, food, and time with friends. Traveling with a toddler is always an adventure!