around the states with a toddler

With a large trip down the coast of California under my belt, I felt quite confident about traveling with an infant. Six months old was the perfect age… easy to carry, easy to sit down somewhere, easy to entertain, easy to feed! My baby was happy pretty much anywhere, doing anything. Then along came toddlerhood… suddenly routine is key, picky eating is the norm, and sitting in airplanes? Forget about it!

My happy, easy baby back in September

My happy, easy baby back in September

Nevertheless, we’ve managed to do a fair amount of traveling anyway! For airplane travel, a ready-to-go bottle is a must for taking off, as is a “goody bag” full of stuff to keep little hands busy. It still wasn’t easy for her to sit still, and from now on she will need her own seat (expensive!). Diaper changing in the airplane bathroom is also quite a feat. Apps on a kindle or iPad would’ve been ideal, but the little zeepad I’d loaded up with apps had a broken screen when we pulled it out. Note to self!

Dallas, Texas: We attended my cousin’s wedding, but also got to check out the children’s area of the Perot Museum in downtown Dallas, as well as Texas Discovery Gardens and the downtown playground. Our three hour flight was not perfectly peaceful… but the play area in the airport helped a lot. Also, I discovered that the train shuttle between terminals was the perfect place for a toddler nap, and for me to read emails and blogs on my phone!

Downtown Dallas playground. Nice view of the skyline, and not crowded!

Downtown Dallas playground. Nice view of the skyline, and not crowded!

Perot Science Museum children's area... very fun, also had an outdoor, enclosed sand pit!

Perot Science Museum children’s area… very fun, also had an outdoor, enclosed sand pit!

Texas Discovery Gardens... a nice place for toddlers to run around, and a butterfly garden.

Texas Discovery Gardens… a nice place for toddlers to run around, and a butterfly garden.

Chicago: This was our first road trip during toddlerhood! There was two of us grown-ups, and ultimately one of us ended up in the back seat to entertain the baby. We also discovered that endless verses of “Wheels on the Bus” kept screaming/whining at bay. I was inspired to get an actual CD, because I was sick of singing it myself! Chicago itself is a nice place for kids, with parks and the children’s museum at Navy Pier. Unfortunately, many museums are too far to walk to from downtown, and the Museum of Science and Industry did not have much for toddlers. You have to drive a bit if you want to get to most places. We skipped the aquarium this time, although we will do it next time because she has since taken an interest in fish.

Ahhh... relaxation, and a surprisingly good night's sleep, in downtown Chicago

Ahhh… relaxation, and a surprisingly good night’s sleep, in downtown Chicago

The children's museum at Navy Pier was pricey, but had many rooms that were very entertaining to children of all ages

The children’s museum at Navy Pier was pricey, but had many rooms that were very entertaining to children of all ages

Not much to do for toddlers at the Museum of Science and Industry, but she found these water reflections entertaining

Not much to do for toddlers at the Museum of Science and Industry, but she found these water reflections entertaining

Lake Michigan Another road trip took us to the northwest part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, where we enjoyed beautiful blue freshwater and sandy beaches, as well as cute little towns. I love the beaches of the Great Lakes, no salt and no rip tides (not to mention sharks or crabs or other ocean creatures), and yet the beaches are beautiful and the water can be warm. For this roadtrip, I packed for the beach with a big red ball, beach towels, sand toys, and a DVD player for the backseat. Kiddo watched “Frozen” several times, and I was over it, but hey… it kept the crying at bay!

Beautiful beach in downtown Traverse City with a play area for kids, restrooms, cafe, and nearby shops and restaurants

Beautiful beach in downtown Traverse City with a play area for kids, restrooms, cafe, and nearby shops and restaurants

Chasing her ball on the beach in Traverse City

Chasing her ball on the beach in Traverse City

 

Fun in the sand on beautiful Lake Michigan

Fun in the sand on beautiful Lake Michigan

Taking a rest while climbing sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes state park

Taking a rest while climbing sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes state park

Next we will be visiting St. Louis for another family wedding… this time we’re going to try an overnight road trip. It looks like there are many free and fun things to do with toddlers in this city, I’m looking forward to it!

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2 comments

  1. Our travel/flights are this weekend. Thanks to your helpful comment, I feel prepared for the flights and day of travel. What I DON’T feel prepared for is the change in routine and what this will inevitably do to her sleep/nap schedule. My sister’s 4 children (none of whom go to bed before 10 pm) will be sharing very small quarters with us. Jesus take the wheel!

    When are you going to St. Louis? Have fun!

    1. Going in a few weeks to another wedding. Looks like it has a lot for kids!

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