Thursday, August 4, 2011

Guest Post: Toddler Travel Isn't Easy

This year saw our second trip to stay with my husband's aunt in an old farmhouse in the middle of rural France with Tink in tow. She is now 18 months and loves being outdoors. She can be something of a handful. It was a completely different type of holiday from last year. Then she was only 6 months old, still nursing full time and sleeping every couple of hours. So everything we did revolved around nap times and feed times and because of her age everyone was extremely accommodating.

This year she is a toddler. She still nurses and she still doesn't sleep too well. But at 18 months, I found this was not tolerated quite as well and we were expected to fit in more around everyone else's schedule. I found this quite difficult. At home I pander to her every need. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do. Especially during the week when daddy is at work, our schedule is based on what Tink wants. If I'm meant to be meeting a friend for coffee, and she hasn't had her nap and is playing up i.e. won't sit in her buggy or high chair, then I cancel. For the sake of her happiness for such a short time of her life, I'm ok with this.

But spending a lot of money on a holiday with grandparents and a great-aunt meant it was much harder for me to say, "No thanks, we'll just stay in today, you guys go without us."

I can't be the only person who has been through this.

Lots of families holiday together.

And if you've spent a fortune on it, e.g. a trip to somewhere like WDW, especially if you've been treated to it by a family member, it can make for difficult decisions.

Do you risk angering your relatives and missing out on things, so that your toddler sticks to their routine? Or do you keep the peace and go out for longer, miss nap times, usual meal times etc. at the expense of a unhappy child?

What is the right thing to do?

I ended up doing a mixture of both.

Tink had been quite unwell just a couple of days before we went away, so for the first few days I insisted she stuck to her usual nap times and routine as much as possible, to suit her. We did take her out one afternoon after her nap on the first day, which was incredibly hot and humid, in the 30's so hot enough to rival WDW, and it was a nightmare. We went to my favourite town (Mont Morillon) and to my favourite tea room. But it did not go well. She screamed in the car, she cried in her pushchair (so much so that a couple of people left the tea room), she wailed all the way home. She wanted mummy and mummy only. She wanted to be held and to nurse and nothing else.

So we stayed in the house and its huge gardens for the next few days.

But by the following weekend, the rest of the family were getting restless and wanted to venture out, and for it to be family day trips.

Tink did really well on these outings. She loved going to the traditional markets and smiling/waving at everyone. She does not often sleep well in the car in the UK but on these long days she did us proud by having a peaceful nap in her carseat. She also walked about on her reins or sat in her pushchair when she was tired enough quite happily. Was I pleased with this though? Did I relax and enjoy myself? Of course not. Every time she missed her usual nap time, meal time I fretted and worried that she would have an episode. I got so upset one day that I burst into tears in the middle of lunch.

Luckily this passed and by almost the end of the stay I was able to do something that I hadn't done in the entire 18 months since we had Tink. I let the grandparents take her out for a couple of hours. To put this into context, I have left her before, for a few hours here and there, either with daddy one of our parents, but it's always been at home. They've never 'gone off' with her before. Did she enjoy it? She loved it and was good as gold for them, even making a little friend in the coffee shop they visited. Did I enjoy it? I think I cried for about half an hour, and then I did some washing up. And some laundry. DH kept telling me to sit down and read but I just couldn't sit still!!! I guess when you're used to being on the go all the time with a toddler, resting doesn't come easily.

I do wonder what other people do. Do you fit your child around your holiday or your holiday around your child?

Are there ways around it with a toddler? I did consider a sling and wearing Tink like a baby but she is a bit too heavy now and not used to it. It also would have been very hot and sticky.

I'm hoping next year will be different. I'll have stopped nursing, she may have stopped napping. At 2 and a half she should be more settled and a tweak to her routine will not be as disruptive.

Besides, next year, it'll be me that will be over excited, not being able to sleep or sit still because ....

We're going to Disneyland Paris!!!

Check back for my monthly series as I discover more about DLP and start to plan for Tink’s first trip to meet The Mouse!

Contributed by Janine P. of Swindon, England. She is a proud wife, mommy to Felicity and one of our Minnie Moms.


  1. Ramona's still not quite one (okay, she's one on Sunday!) so people tended to be quite accommodating of her when we went to Greece in June, but I'm guessing they will be less so as she gets older... *ulp*

    When are you going to DLRP? We're planning her first Disney trip there for September next year, so very excited too! I do wonder how she'll cope with the characters (she'll be just over 2, so still very small)...

  2. I keep my 20 month old on a pretty strict schedule.. sleep/naps/meals are all fairly well timed.. on a rare occasion we'll have a family function that effects his naptime, but 90% of the time we stay on schedule.. oddly, at Disney, the schedule goes out the window and he's fine... goodluck :) DLRPsounds amazing!

  3. For our trip to WDW last month, and even our trip from FL to NY for Thanksgiving last year, I stuck to the general schedule for my daughter (now 2.5). It's pretty simple, 4 hours awake, 2 hours asleep, 4 hours awake, give or take extra excitement, hunger, etc. I always carry snacks and water in my purse and often a small toy in addition to my iPod for real meltdown emergencies. Between this and a quiet, as familiar as possible place to sleep (I bring a ton of blankets and stuffed animals from home), both trips went well. A tip that took some adjusting for me was that if I'M relaxed, SHE'S relaxed. So worry while she sleeps, make plans, and roll with it when they're awake! :)


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