Tag Archives: Traveling with Kids

Busy, busy, busy bags for busy, busy, busy people!

Our beta bag is now available on our website: www.wandertots.com
Our beta bag is now available on our website: www.wandertots.com

I feel like it’s obligatory to apologize for being MIA from this blog for awhile. Between my new part-time job as a games (read PE) teacher, starting my own home-based business, and, well, being a mom, life is very, very busy. However, this writing part of myself and everything it encompasses is still at the core of who I am, so I feel I must share these new and exciting parts of my life here as well.

When I started this blog, I was moving into a space where I was giving up my regular teaching job to stay home with my daughter and write. As it turns out, I’m still home most of the time, but I’m doing a lot less writing than I envisioned. Not because I don’t love it, but because creativity comes in waves for me, and I had to put my middle grade fiction manuscript aside for awhile to let it simmer. Someday, I’ll return to it, but right now isn’t the time.

Instead, I’ve committed to some new ventures. For starters, I’m teaching PE in a Waldorf environment a couple days a week and it’s actually really fun. I get to play games with kids and give them the freedom to be inventive while also getting my own exercise alongside with them. Major win!

And, then, there’s my new business. WanderTots. While waiting for E to wake up from one of her marathon naps this summer in Hawaii, it hit me, I could try and market the same busy bags that were making our trip a success. Soon my husband had me ordering toys wholesale so we’d have an inventory waiting when I got home and I’d have no excuse but to leap head first into the world of entrepreneurship. (Thanks, honey!)

The name WanderTots camefrom my love of the word wanderlust. Travel has always been one of my passions and the opportunity to combine it with motherhood was too good to pass up. Thanks to the wonderful advice (and inspiration!) from friends before we left, I had carefully wrapped a collection of novelty items for E to take on our flight. The excitement of unfamiliar goodies kept her occupied almost the entire trip.

Then, to my great surprise, once we got home, that same bag was following us everywhere, to restaurants, family photo sessions, the grandparents’ house. You name it. Suddenly I was able to sit and enjoy a meal again instead of having to chase E around a restaurant. Busy bags literally changed my perspective on taking a toddler out in public.

Amazing how exciting wrapped goodies are for little people.
Amazing how exciting wrapped goodies are for little people.

One of the downsides of creating a busy bag is the time involved in tracking down unfamiliar items and then wrapping them individually. While I had fun in the process, I also recognized that for moms who work full-time or are caught up in other endeavors (like multiple children perhaps!), making a busy bag is a luxury. Likewise, while there are some crafty busy bag options available out there, more commercial-ready choices don’t seem to exist…

So, voila! WanderTots now offers busy bags for busy people! As with any good work in progress, expect more options as time progresses. But, for now, like us across multiple platforms (FB, Twitter, Instagram) and keep us in mind next time you’re out and about and need to occupy your little ones.

Secrets to Enjoying Toddler Travel

This was probably our peak moment of anticipation, not knowing how E would do on the 5 hour flight to Honolulu.
This was probably our peak moment of anticipation, not knowing how E would do on the 5 hour flight to Honolulu after a short night of sleep.

How to survive (and even enjoy!) toddler travel is a hot topic. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’ll admit I was pretty nervous about traveling with 16-month-old E this summer. Below is what worked best for us, (a big thank you to everyone who shared ideas!).

1. Don’t count on technology to do the trick. While downloaded television shows and apps saved us a couple times on the road, they were worthless on the airplane. Having a back-up plan was key.

2. Busy bags are amazing. They may be filled with simple-seeming items, but wrapped presents doled out strategically throughout our flights really helped to keep E occupied. Look for an entire post devoted to busy bags later this month.

3. Naps matter, but not always. I was paranoid lost sleep would make for terrible travel days, but I was wrong. She did fine on (much) abbreviated sleep. As long as I balanced it with chances to sleep on other days, she really hung in there and did an excellent job. We just made a point to give her as much time as she needed on non-travel days, especially when she started to show signs of exhaustion.

Our busy bags of wrapped goodies proved to be the most useful on the plane.
Hip-hip-hooray for busy bags filled with wrapped goodies!

4. STICKERS. Back to the idea of a busy bag, stickers stopped a lot of fits. All I had to do was offer her one before she got too wound up. In fact, stickers might be the best thing ever.

5. Double check your luggage before you leave. Toddlers like to move things to obscure places, like leaving behind much-needed shoes under beds.

6. Thrift stores can be lifesavers when you need to replace lost items, (like those pesky missing shoes!). A lot of towns have really cute second hand shops devoted specifically to kids stuff, which can be fun to browse. They’re also great for picking up used toys for cheap entertainment in otherwise sparse rental homes and hotel rooms.

7. Bring a set of extra clothes everywhere you go. The potential for food, bodily fluid, and/or excrement messes is high! Plastic bags to store soiled items are definitely helpful. I made a point to organize everything in my diaper bag in different zip-lock bags. This allowed me to find what I needed quickly and prevented spills from ruining everything.

An unexpected perk was traveling with cousins. We couldn't help but joke about finding E an older sibling instead of a younger one.
An unexpected perk was the benefit of traveling with cousins. We couldn’t help but joke about finding E an older sibling instead of a younger one.

8. Umbrella strollers rock. I was tempted to use our baby carrier and ditch the stroller but a friend offered to let us borrow her super compact umbrella stroller. While the carrier was great for going through security without having to chase E around, it saved us a lot of back ache to also have a compact stroller to check at the gate. As a bonus, she enjoyed pushing it around the terminal while we waited for our flight. It also fit easily in the car with all of our luggage, which is great because our regular stroller would’ve been much too big. On a side note, I discovered hiking strollers can be rented for reasonable fees and are delivered straight to your hotel room, so lugging around an enormous stroller isn’t necessary if you’re tight on space.

9. Airlines might pleasantly surprise you. Hawaiian gave us an open seat for E even though we didn’t purchase one for her, (and I’ve heard many moms say the same thing). The extra space was great, especially since it was free. However, it also made me realize her own seat was nice but unnecessary. We shared a seat on the way home and we both did fine. While I understand the car seat safety concern, I also know E would be a screaming mess if I insisted on strapping her into her seat during a flight. I considered the risk of her getting hurt pretty low, although I know this is a hot topic in mom groups.

Hawaii ended up being a pretty ideal place to take a toddler. Understandably, beach is her new favorite word.
Hawaii ended up being a pretty ideal place to take a toddler. Not surprisingly, “beach” is her new favorite word.

10. Accept things will be different than your pre-toddler days. I was able to fit in most of the activities I love, but for smaller chunks of time. Instead of being bummed I didn’t have hours to snorkel, read books or lie in the sun, I really made the most of the little stretches of time she gave me to relax. Same goes for restaurants, site seeing, etc. Roll with it while it works and move on when it doesn’t. The joy in seeing her explore her new surroundings helped to offset the lack of down time and regular naps gave us the opportunity to recharge while enjoying the view.

Over all, traveling with a toddler was much more enjoyable than I expected. Have tips I missed? Please share as I’m certain we’ll have many more adventures to come.

July Fitness Challenge: A Worthwhile Fail

Turns out vacation wasn't the best time to start my challenge, but it was a good reminder that focusing on the people I love is just as important.
Turns out vacation wasn’t the best time to start my challenge, but it was a good reminder that focusing on the people I love is also rejuvenating.

July is over and so is my 10-minutes-a-day (yoga) challenge. I did great until it was time to leave for vacation and then I completely lost focus. Turns out traveling with a 16-month-old required a lot of energy. The ten minutes I had to myself were generally spent doing something more time sensitive, like eating or taking a shower or appreciating the people around me.

Even so, the challenge was successful in making me realize how even 10 minutes of exercise impacts my overall feeling of well being, and most days, the 10 minutes stretched into more. The small time commitment made it easier to get started. Now that I’m home again, I’m going to attempt to make 10 minutes part of my regular self-care routine, as opposed to a temporary challenge.

If you participated, how did your month go? Did you stick to it? If not, did you still get something positive out of it? Hope you’ll share.

And, if you kept at it all month, virtual high five.

Celebrating Five Years of Marriage WITH Baby

Last weekend we celebrated our anniversary in North Lake Tahoe and brought along the baby. I know what you’re thinking. Not too romantic. However, we took a page out of a friend’s book, and invited the in-laws.

The result?

Weekend getaway bliss!

We got a couple hours to ourselves, enjoyed the sunset and live music on the lake, then took back over the baby watching so grandma and grandpa could have their fun. In fact, it worked out so well, we are now hoping to pair up with other couples to take weekend trips and trade the baby-watching duties for a couple hours apiece. That way, we get the best of both worlds, family and couple time.

A big shout-out to the Hyatt Regency at Incline Village in North Lake Tahoe for being so family friendly. Even though we reserved our rooms on Hotwire, we were still treated well, which is not always the case with some hotels when booked at a discount. If you’re interested in replicating our deal, check out Hotwire in Incline Village, the Hyatt is the only 4-star hotel with 100% positive feedback, so you can pretty much know which hotel you’re getting before you book. Our rate was even better once we clicked, so head over and check it out!

So much fun introducing E. to the lake for the first time!
So much fun introducing E. to the lake for the first time…
Dad loved dipping her toes in the cold water and her laughter confirmed she did too.
Dad loved dipping her toes in the cold water and her laughter confirmed she did too.

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Such a wonderful way to celebrate five years married, together as a new family.
Such a wonderful way to celebrate five years married, together as a new family.
Grandma and grandpa were such a huge help. We got plenty of time alone and as a family of three, then enjoyed breakfast together as a big family before we took off Sunday morning.
Grandma and grandpa were such a huge help. We got plenty of time alone and just the three of us, then enjoyed breakfast together as a big family before we took off.
Co-sleeping also made a huge difference for traveling, E. fell asleep easily between mom and dad despite the different environment. We're excited for more travel adventures soon!
Co-sleeping also made a huge difference for traveling, E. fell asleep easily between mom and dad despite the different environment. We are excited for more travel adventures soon!