Aug 9, 2010

Travel Lessons

As promised, I thought I'd give you a little insight into my post-trip debriefing. For those of you who have children, you know that traveling with little ones requires LOTS of preparation and patience. Being fairly fresh in my parenting journey, this trip was sort of like a crash course in vacationing with a little one. I'm pretty sure that as children grow, traveling becomes easier, but, from what I've observed thus far, trying to get a toddler to appreciate all the sights and sounds of a new place is pretty much impossible! But, as I was reminded by my friend Dawn, God does have special mercies on parents during times of family travel. I am so thankful for the wisdom that He gave me to do some things right, and also for His faithfulness to show me where I could do better next time around. So, without further adieu, here are a few of the lessons I learned...

(Starting with the positive) 

Some Things I Did Right:

1. Thoroughly reviewing the airline's policies and procedures before we traveled- I hadn't really planned to do this. It was sort of a last minute thing, but I'm so glad I did. It wound up saving us plenty of time and money!

2. Packing wisely- This was one area that I was determined to get right! In the past, I've been an over-packer, and I knew that with all the extra toddler stuff we needed to bring, I needed to use my space wisely. Things that worked:

o Creating a thorough packing list.
o Packing my clothes by outfit and limiting my shoe selection, both of which made deciding what to wear each day quick and easy!
o Packing Silas' clothes by outfit as well, allowing 2 outfits per day in case of accidents.
o Using a large backpack as a carry on diaper bag/personal bag.
o Bringing the car seat, stroller, and pack 'n play! This may sound like a bit much, but we couldn't have done without any of them!
o Packing plenty of snacks (in the carry-on backpack and in the checked luggage- Silas enjoyed his favorite snacks the whole week), only a few of Silas' favorite books and music loaded on my ipod (we didn't bring any toys), plenty plastic baggies (useful for SO many travel situations, including but not limited to dirty diapers and wet clothes!), and a white noise machine (perfect to drown out noises during Silas' nap time since we were all in the same room).

3. Focusing on people rather than places- Kevin pointed this one out to me as a way of encouragement, and it was definitely something I needed to hear in a moment of discouragement. Before ever leaving for St. Lucia I knew that this trip would be a family focused trip and not necessarily one that would meet my every need or desire. I didn’t have any expectations for eating at exotic restaurants or spending romantic evenings on the beach with Kevin. I knew that we would do things that involved and catered to the whole family, and I was OK with that even before we left. This predetermined attitude kept me from unnecessary disappointments.

(And now for the areas that need improvement)

Things I Will Do Better Next Time:

1. Be more realistic about Silas’ nap schedule, or lack thereof- Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty religious about Silas’ nap schedule. When we’re home, I plan most of our activities around nap time because Silas is much happier when he’s rested. And when Silas is happy, Mama is happy! This works for our family at home, but not on vacation (a lesson I quickly learned). I began the trip by trying to plan our outings around Silas’ nap schedule, but soon realized that doing this was going to make the trip miserable for everyone. It was unfair of me to steal vacation time away from everyone by staying in the hotel room hoping that Silas would nap. Because I quickly realized that napping was not on Silas’ radar in this strange hotel room with all this exciting stuff to explore! Thankfully I realized this early on during the trip so that we could enjoy our outings. And when Silas got tired enough he slept- go figure.

2. Plan out a tentative itinerary for our vacation before we leave- I had every intention of doing this before we left but never got around to it. Not having any plan when we got there caused a few, “So what do you want to do? I dunno, what do you want to do?” moments. And it’s not that we needed to follow an exact plan. It just would have helped to have some idea of our options for the day. This would have saved some time in the long run.

3. Not let my emotions get the best of me- I am an emotional person. God made me this way. The problem is, however, I often let my emotions take control and rely on my feelings rather than on God’s Spirit. And the truth is, this is something I struggle with on a daily basis- not just on vacation! But in relation to the trip, there were many instances where I allowed circumstances to get the best of me, resulting in attitudes of frustration and anger and impatience. In hindsight, I wish I would have taken a little time each morning to submit control of my day to God and to pray for HIS peace and patience and joy. I wish I would have relied more on HIS strength and not my own. Because the need for fellowship with God doesn’t stop when we’re on vacation. Thank God for His mercy.

If you actually made it to the end of this post, I’m impressed! I know it was long, but I wanted to share this with you as a way to encourage you in your travel with little ones, whether they are your own or someone else's . I figure every little tip helps when little ones are involved!

Happy Trails to You!


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