Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Dear Lola, 

Travelling with a toddler 101.

So here we are post trip, and I thought it worthwhile jotting down a few tips that carried us through our adventure, for future travel reference. Because with 24 hours worth of flights + stop overs, and three weeks of travel ahead of us, it paid to be as prepared as possible.

* Take the night flight! At first discussion, a day flight appeared safer, as we figured we'd have more control over how things played out. Night flight = more risk, but if you slept, and we managed to get some sleep as well, then this would be win win! And it paid off alright, as papa & I slept relatively soundly - you of course had no trouble, and stretched out happily & snored away! Plus the good thing was, any sleep we did miss out on, only helped us adjust better to the time difference.

One decent sized backpack was dedicated to you and contained the following...

* Buy a new lunchbox that has several different 'click, clack' compartments. We filled each section with different treats - cashews, sultanas, prunes, yoghurt drops, rice puffs etc. Boy did your eyes light up when we handed it to you on the plane. You spent at least an hour clicking and clacking and the novelty didn't wear off all trip. Perfect for impromptu picnics by the pool, beach, in tuk tuks.

* A new pencil case filled with textas, stickers, little notebooks & post it notes. This was huge for you, as it supplied us with endless games & doodling, you drew and stuck stickers on everything & anyone within reach. We simply replenished your sticker collection as we went. We are so grateful that the children of the world all share an obsession with stickers!

*One tub of playdoh. Go for the good stuff, that doesn't go sticky or dry out. This was a life saver, particularly when waiting for meals or waiting to check into a room. And although my playdoh making skills are limited to snakes, snails & snowmen, lucky you have a papa that can make any request under the sun. I saw twelve reindeer pulling a sleigh at one stage.

*Books. They are such an integral part of your life. At least six must be read before bed, and handing one over to you can provide instant calm & quiet. We packed half a dozen of your favourite, lightweight books. Naturally this was the smartest move ever.

 *Puzzles - we bought a few light, compact 20 piece puzzle packs before we left. Scattered & lost puzzle pieces sounds like a nightmare, but you are the puzzle queen, and these proved priceless during meal times (all of which we ate out at restaurants). When you'd had enough of them we simply passed them on to other wingy children, to the appreciative smiles of their parents.

 *I found a few other bits & bots at the junk shop. Dress up dolls with stick on clothes were a hit. I'm not sure who had more fun dressing them as we drove around the country.

*Have a chat to your better half, and work out a strategy that you know will extinguish potential meltdowns . Papa & I discovered that for you, it was the promise that we would make up a story. A quarter of the way through the trip, you became fascinated with made up stories, where wacky voices, crazy story lines, monkeys, and a little girl named Lola were mandatory. Eg. You refuse to get out of the tuk tuk... come on, out you hop, and then we will make up a story for you. Bingo!

Remember, you are two and a half, and everything interests you, from a pile of rocks to a pile of elephant dung.
Remember, if you have ice cream two meals in a row, you aren't going to want it for your third.
Remember, to take it slow, offer extra piggy back rides & pack a portable music player. 
Remember, to build each sandcastle with as much enthusiasm as the last one hundred.

And, don't sweat the small stuff. If you declare you're too hot, and proceed to undress yourself and dance in the middle of the breakfast buffet, so be it, and be sure to clap along for fun.

Oh, and teach you games that entertained us as kids, such as 'I Spy'.

Papa - I spy with my little eye something beginning with "T"
Lola - Oh, I know, I know, it's sugar!
Papa - No, it's something beginning with the letter "T"
Lola - No, I win, I win, sugar goes with tea papa!

Your mama

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