Recently, we travel 2,254 miles with a 321 day-old human (a.k.a. almost eleven months) when we decided to fly south like any reasonable living thing after a week of snowstorms in February made us question whether or not we would ever see the sun again. While we found the sunshine and some much-needed sanity in Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, we also learned some terrible truths about traveling with a toddler.
- You’ll discover that no matter how much you try to stop it, all of the new unappetizing foreign objects will be licked. As soon as you enter the passenger terminal of an airport or new hotel, your toddler’s mission will be to investigate and lick any remaining gremlins in the carpet. Your mission will be to stop them. A twenty-four hour war will ensue. You’ll probably lose. Exposure to germs is good for the immune system, right?
- You’ll recognize that appearances truly are deceiving. When you leave your last hotel room, the red bespeckled bed sheets may look like a murder was committed; however, it was just the unfortunate massacre of an innocent container of raspberries. You’ll quietly double your tip for the cleaning lady and purposely expose a couple of diapers in the waste bin to indicate that no blood was shed.
- You’ll learn the importance of strictly adhering to a nap schedule. Haha. You’re funny. You’ll really learn that even the best schedule was meant to be broken, and everyone will live with perhaps a few more tired glances, tears, and tantrums. (I’m talking about me, not my toddler.)
- You’ll master toddler wrangling. You’ll learn the art form of walking down the narrow aisles of an airplane as tiny toddler hands attempt to grab the reading glasses off the faces of unsuspecting elderly ladies and remove the ball hats from unwary teenage boys. If you’re lucky, her attempt to rub an older gentleman’s bald head for luck will also be unsuccessful. On the final flight, you’ll navigate the air plane gauntlet with no incidents and you’ll feel the same level of achievement as you did when you graduated from college. No one, however, will present you with a congratulatory cake; so you’ll settle for eating all of the M&M’s out of the trail mix while your toddler finally takes a naps on your lap.
- You’ll take the adventure of toddler nursing to new heights, literally. If you’ve breastfed a toddler, you know that it is a full contact sport. Your child may begin the session passively in your arms, but in a matter of moments, her bottom is in your face, one foot is kicking you in the shoulder, and her hand is beneath your blouse to make sure your other breast hasn’t become “lost.” Traveling adds a twist to this adventure because instead of embarking on this endeavor in the comfort of your home, it is occurring with a slim young man’s left elbow sitting approximately three inches away from your right nipple. Your toddler’s wide arcs will somehow expand over the next three hours, and your seatmate will somehow make himself slimmer. Thank you for being so tolerant, Boston to Charlotte seatmate!
- You’ll make lots of friends. With a gummy grin, your precocious mini has mastered the art of making new acquaintances. These “friends” may typically be individuals that you usually avoid when traveling; their dark sunglasses, daring hats, and distinct odors often indicate their recent nocturnal endeavors. However, these encounters will partially restore your faith in humanity when you realize that in most cases, even the most hung over humans find a way to humor their species’s newest additions, which is partially why we are already planning our next trip. Bon voyage!