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Lessons in Cross-Country Travel with a Toddler

Dear readers, I'm back! I've just returned from a fantastic vacation to California to visit my family.  It was quite the adventure getting there because it was D2's first plane ride. To say I was nervous about travelling across the country on my own with a toddler is an understatement. At almost 20 months, D2 is very active and loathes sitting in his car seat for more than a couple of hours. Now I'm a very seasoned traveler having been all around the world for business and pleasure but I shuddered at the thought of being in a steel tube 30,000 feet in the air with a rambunctious little boy for nearly seven hours. To give my little one credit, he was superb on both the outgoing and return trips. He's definitely inherited my travel genes and is quite the little extrovert. Where ever we went he smiled, waved, blew kisses and darn near charmed the pants off of everyone we encountered. We had no shortage of people offering to help us.

Prepping for our first trip together wasn't too bad. There's a decent amount of information on line (as well as plenty of horror stories and cautionary tales chronicled by helpful parents) but I found the siteMomaboard to be the most helpful. This site gave  helpful advice on everything from the most family friendly airlines to whether or not to carry a car seat on board. Now that I've got one trip under my belt, here's a few things I learned:

  • Buy your child his own seat. Technically, if your child is under two he doesn't have to have his own seat and can sit on your lap. But airlines pack their flights full so you can no longer count on an empty seat to spread out. At 28 pounds D2 is a real bruiser and I  knew neither one of us could stand to have him on my lap for six plus hours. It was a good call.
  • Pack light. I packed all of our stuff in one suitcase and checked that and his car seat (I found a fabulous wheeling car seat travel bag that kept my convertible car seat from getting trashed. Great investment). Rather than a diaper bag, I carried a backpack which I filled with diapers, bottles of milk, two changes of clothes for D2, toys, baby books, my Kindle and various and sundry snacks.

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