Life has been super busy this past couple weeks so I am finally sitting down to write about my trip to Calgary with my two little people!!!
So to start out, I want to explain that this was a BIG DEAL for me because in the past when I was married, my husband drove EVERYWHERE. I rarely drove longer than a couple hours on my own. I had a confining, constricting fear of traveling on my own with my kids. There was a time when I didn’t know if I would ever be able to take a trip with my kids. This being said, I have in fact traveled on an airplane with both children in tow and both were younger than they are now and I survived that.
I have a friend who raised her 4 children on her own, and two pieces of advice she gave me were:
- If you have a choice between making a gourmet meal, tidying your house or accepting an invitation to play with your kids – make PB&J sandwiches and get outside and play with those kids. They won’t remember the roast beef dinner or that your floors were spotless – they will remember you getting outside and playing with them.
- Don’t ever let “single parenting” stop you from doing anything. You pack those kids up and take them everywhere with you – they will be just fine and it is only as hard as you make it.
Travel on my own with my kids became another goal/challenge that I wanted to tick off my list of to do’s as a single mom this year.
Done like dinner, friends.
I am going to tell you what I learned from the trip and give you some helpful tips on how to prepare and manage a trip with small kids whether it be a road trip or travel by air.
This was a 6-day road trip.
Here’s how I packed:
- 8-10 diapers per child
- Bag of Wipes
- 5 outfits for each child
- 1 pair of shoes for the baby
- 2 pairs of shoes for Emmett – sandals and tennis shoes
- 3 sets of PJ’s for each child
- 5 outfits for myself – 1-2 of which had pieces that could be used for a workout and double as an outfit element as well.
- 1 pair of athletic shoes
- 1 pair of sandals
- Toiletry and Makeup Items
- 5-6 diapers for each child for the day of driving
- An extra outfit for each child
- 1 receiving blanket
- 2-3 toys for Ruby
- 3 Pacifiers
- My wallet
- Baby food
- Rice husk crackers
- Take and toss spoons
- One bowl with a lid
- Salad with chicken for MY lunch
- Lara Bars
- Fruit Snacks
- Goldfish Crackers
- Crackers & Cheese
- Bottled Water
- Pack N’ Play
- Bumbo Seat
- Bath Chair for baby
- Portable Car DVD player with headrest mount
All of these items came in super handy for the trip and I am glad I didn’t leave home without any of them.
Now if you are doing air travel, you will need to modify some of the items above as there is a more limited room for space and checked luggage.
You can still prepare a cooler bag of snacks for your kids, you just may have to modify to dry items, and liquid and fresh snacks at the airport depending on your destination and the age of your children.
I always put together about 5-6 outfits per child – I lay these out on the floor or my bed to see what I have for mix and match options.
Our Road Trip
So, we embarked on our trip at about 10am on Thursday morning. I drove for 1.5 hours and then stopped in the Valleyview at the Shell station to enjoy Alberta’s Best Bathroom. We then drove for about 2.5 hours until we reached Whitecourt and stopped at McDonald’s and attempted to eat outside. By attempted, I mean that I purchased food, unpacked the kids at a picnic table and then my son became scared of the wind blowing the McDonald’s bag and he proceeded to scream hysterically like a child possessed at its mere rustling. He would not settle, despite multiple attempts at diffusing the phobia, so in the interests of avoiding any more stares from onlookers, I packed everyone up and headed indoors to finish our lunch.
At this point in the trip, I pulled out the portable DVD player and put a movie on for Emmett. I drove all the way to Red Deer from Whitecourt (about 3 hours) and then stopped at a Starbucks for a drink, a snack for Emmett, breastfed Ruby and filled up on gas. We went from Red Deer all the way to our final destination. The kids were super tired after the long day, so I set up the playpen, put Ruby to sleep and went to bed after enjoying a couple glasses of delicious, victory wine.
The trip was super awesome and super empowering for me. I took the kids to the Calgary Zoo one day, to visit a friend another day and enjoyed the energy and beautiful weather in the city.
The one setback from the trip was that the kids were out of their routine so sleep was hit and miss some nights which led into an exhausting day of trying to catch up on sleep with naps. Ultimately we had an excellent visit with friends and a nice time away. The trip back went just about as smooth as the first, other than that Ruby cried for the last 2.5 hours of the trip despite a stop in the middle. We made it home safe and sound on Tuesday evening.
My advice when traveling with kids…
Take it one day at a time.
Be flexible in making plans while traveling so you can adjust things if you have issues with sleep or your kids just being out of familiar territory.
When actually in the middle of travel, take one hour at a time, if the kids are sleeping, give your bladder a good talking to and keep driving.
Portable DVD players or iPads are amazing pieces of technology that will keep children quiet for hours…buy it, pack it, you won’t regret it.
With air travel, remember that there will be lots of helping hands. From customer service reps, flight attendants, other parents flying, and those people who look at your tired, “in need a stiff drink” concentration face and just feel damn sorry for you.
When you reach your destination, give yourself a pat on the back. Traveling with kids is not easy and you rocked it. Celebrate, pour yourself a glass of wine, and smile because you did it.