Travel with Toddlers May Cause Me to Go Insane

 In Why Travel?

Do you have toddlers at home? No?

Have your kids already come and gone through that phase? Do you just have pleasant memories of early morning snuggles, good night kisses and digging in the sand together on an exotic beach?

Yeah. Me too.

But let me remind you about all of the other fun stuff that happens in the toddler years.

And so it begins

No one ever tells you that your beautiful baby turns into a toddler on his very 1st birthday. That was the day Dek got an opinion of his own. Where he thought he was allowed to have one of those I have no idea, but he did.

Dek started out small, but at almost 3 years old now we are in full-fledged toddler-dom. The idea about how he should be living his life are flying from his mouth left and right; ever more so than after his baby brother Ty came onto the scene.

Who cares if you’re sleep-deprived mom

Dek is a great kid. I love him more than anything. I feel like I’m a pretty good mom. Most of the time we have awesome adventures together.

Some days he just drives me crazy though.

He has recently decided that he can get up at 6am. This is 1-2 hours earlier than he has been waking up. This is also right after I’ve gotten up with his brother and finally fallen back to sleep.

I know Dek is only 3. He doesn’t get that mommy has been up all night and went to bed way too late the night before. He just got 10-11 hours of sleep. He is feeling fresh as a daisy. Why on earth wouldn’t mom be ready to attack the day with him?

Bring on the inquisition

One thing I love about Dek is his inquisitive nature. However, after a horrible nights sleep, being asked the same question (and answering it) at least 23 times gets a little tiresome. I don’t want to squash his spirit, but I also don’t want to lose my mind in the process. I really just want to ask him, “what is the right answer honey? What are you looking for that you keep asking? I will tell you anything you want!”

Sadly he has yet to give me the magic answer to his questions.

There is a bit of the devil in there

With all those opinions I mention before, there also comes an iron will. It is usually reacting to whatever I have asked him to do. The littlest thing can make the horns appear. It’s not everyday, but if he’s had a bad night’s sleep, been over stimulated or whatever other secret thing that happens in a toddler’s world to set him off, we could be in for a rough morning.

I will never judge the mother of a screaming child ever again.

There is no compromising with a 3 year old or rationalizing with him (trust me, Mike tries to all the time. It’s really quite entertaining to watch… because you know… it’s not me).

What’s got me worried is this…

I’m leaving on a 5-week trip with Dek and Ty in less than 2 months. Mike won’t be joining us until half way through. Yes, we will be staying with friends every step of the way, but I still need to get there. They will also have kids of their own to take care of.

What if I lose my mind? Our sleep will be even more out of whack than usual with the time changes. Dek will be in the worst shape since he is used to a set schedule and rhythm to his life. We haven’t traveled overseas with him in over a year.

I have also never traveled like this with the boys. For one thing, it has always just been Dek. I am now adding Ty into our overseas adventures. We will also be bouncing around to friend’s houses for 5 weeks via train, airplane, taxis and a rental car. That’s a lot of change and transitions for two little men.

Let’s not forget that I still won’t be getting much sleep at that point.

By the end of the trip the boys and I will have been in 6 countries. A few of those are just overnight or day trips, but that’s a lot of travel even for most adults. Can I really survive toddler meltdowns through 4 languages, 6 border crossings (OK, so most of the countries are in the EU so that won’t be a problem), and an 8-hour time change? I honestly don’t know.

Where he’s got me

Dek, like all good toddlers, knows how to push my buttons. He knows how to get me ripping my hair out in public places as he refuses to get off the floor for whatever reason he has decided is a good one.

What if he throws a tantrum in the train station in Zurich or won’t get in the stroller as I try to dash through the London airport to make our connecting flight?

What if I miss out on all of the stuff I have been dreaming about seeing on our grand adventure in Europe? OK, maybe that last question should be addressed in a totally different post.

The what-ifs are piling up on me.

But you know what? I just don’t care.

At the end of every what-if I have is the realization that I do it all of the time at home.

I’m tired every day. At every dinner Dek and I have the same conversation about eating what is in front of him, not what he thinks should be there.

Now I can do this at home or I can do this in the Swiss Alps.

Hmm… let me think on that for a moment. Where would I rather be talking down my toddler? Home in Seattle where I am all the time, or in the Swiss Alps with my best friend from grad school and her daughter, eating fondue every night and gorging myself on Swiss chocolates (they are known for them I hear).

I’ll just let you guess at what my answer is.

Dek is going to drive me nuts for at least the next year. I hear it gets better when toddlers turn 4 years old. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I’m not going to sit around for a year waiting for it to happen though. I’ll just take it one minute at a time, and try to roll with whatever our travels throw at us, including temper tantrums and meltdowns.

I will choose to look back on this time and remember snuggling up on the couch reading stories about London, watching our Italian language videos as we both learn how to say “buongiorno!” and pointing out where we will be going in Sicily on the map.

Because you know what? As soon as Dek has shed his horns Ty will sharpening his up. It’s all just part of being a mom.

And I’m OK with that. 


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Showing 14 comments
  • Reply

    Ahh… what a great attitude lady! Definitely the right way to approach this.

  • Jen

    You will have such a wonderful experience and even though he will probably test you like toddlers do, it will all be worth it!

    We took our kids to Europe to visit family when my daughter was a toddler. The worst moment of the trip: standing in the middle of a square in Vienna while we were trying to strap her and her gigantic pink puffy coat into the stroller as she kicked and screamed and a large busload of tourists filmed the whole thing with their video cameras. I still look for the video on YouTube every once in awhile! 😉

    • Reply

      Oh my gosh! That would be horrible! But you did survive, tourist video and all. Glad you all made it. I know even if we have minor (and major!) hiccups along the way, this is still going to be one amazing trip.

  • Bobbi Shaftoe

    Just take it slow and maybe lower your expectations for how much you’ll do and how many countries you’ll visit. In my experience it is the transitions that are the most stressful. Budget in a layabout day where you stay in your pjs until noon.

    • Reply

      Thanks for the great advice! Our expectations are definitely lower since we started traveling with kids. But I do think I will have to set them even lower doing it on my own. A PJs day till noon sounds like heaven even when not traveling! Sadly my toddler is not usually into that 🙁

  • Reply

    Oh yes… I know this all too well…. I am in the middle of toddler-dom with Little Vick and know every single element of frustration/love that you’re talking about here. Travelling with a toddler can be the most beautiful thing and the most horrific thing. It would make anyone want to scream. I remember feeling so frustrated in Thailand (actually cried about it)… wondering when I was going to get the holiday I needed/wanted. It arrived, just in a different form than I would have expected. I think that’s the key. Have low expectations each day whilst in Europe. Just be glad to get out and about and dont slot too many things into a days schedule… run with it and if the goings good then squeeze out a bit more and a bit more…. Remember travelling with a toddler allows you to see things that you probably may not have noticed with your own set of eyes… that unusual bug in the bush, the different array of colours that makes up a place, the different sounds that you probably wouldn’t have paid attention to, language learning etc… HAVE FUN! Good luck 🙂

  • Reply

    I think traveling with a toddler and baby is a lot like childbirth. When it’s all over and done with, you look back and decide it is so totally worth it. Plus, you’ll have great stories to tell Dek when he’s older. “There was this one time in Switzerland. We were all sitting down for fondue when you decided …”

  • Adam Sommer

    Great post….I travel with a 2 1/2 year old all the time. At first it was tough, but now we have all gotten better at traveling together. I actually think travel has made him a better behaved kiddo…he is far more patient and calm than his peers at school. Certainly has taught me patience!

  • Hilarye

    There is a point in every single trip I take that I just want to give up traveling with a toddler and baby!!!!!! BUt then something sweet and magical happens and it deepens my resolve. Even if I end up pulling all my hair out in the process.

  • Mom

    And, of course you’ve listed every worry I have about you traveling alone with the boys. Having already told you that, the one answer to the question that is asked repeatedly 23 times is, “Because I’m the Mom” or just “Because”….worked for you and look how smart you turned out. 🙂

  • Taryn

    I so love your attitude! Yes, our kids drive us crazy sometimes, but why not be sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and insane in a beautiful foreign country?

    Travelling with young kids is not easy, and you are a serious trooper for doing it alone and with two kids!

  • Dawn

    Good morning! I love your blog, I am new here. I found you through Freaky Friday.

    Toddler years can be so much fun but yet a little bit of frustration too. I am already through that phase and in the “I want to be popular in school” phase and the “I fight with my sister” phase. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are wonderful and I love them dearly. They just have their days of bickering so I can relate to having a rough day still!

    I have never been to that many countries myself, so I don’t honestly have advice for kids visiting that many countries. I am sure they will do great and have a wonderful time learning and seeing new sites tho!

    You sound like a great mom so I am sure you will do great on vacation 🙂

  • Living Outside of the Box

    Hahaa! You crack me up! Exactly true, though…we can sit at home and let them be little devils, or we can enjoy ourselves in the process! Oh, and I love your “sharpening the horns” reference…love it!! My 4 and 2 year old may drive me stinkin’ crazy at times (like this last week in Germany–UGH!), but it was still awesome. Totally awesome!

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