A few more highlights from our weekend trip to New Hampshire, and a few things we've learned along the way this year as we've travelled more with Natalie:
- Stick to the important parts of your routine (for us, that means that even if Natalie doesn't get a normal "nap," she should still have some quiet downtime in the middle of the day where we snuggle in bed with stories or music), and let the other stuff go (we gave in to ice cream in bed and later bedtimes each night this time around).
- Pack a ton of snacks. When we went to Boston earlier this year, we brought lots of toys from home and hardly any food. We figured we needed stuff to entertain Natalie in the hotel, and that we'd just go out to eat. WE WERE WRONG. The hotel room was entertaining enough on its own--landline phone, cartoons on television, a bathroom door to open and close, and more. Our biggest challenge was figuring out where and when we would eat. We learned from our travel-mates on that trip to pack a big sack of food & drink & dishes from home. We've done that ever since, with this trip as no exception. Stuff that travels well: goldfish or bunny crackers, single-serve plastic cups of fruit (pears, peaches, oranges), avocadoes, apples, melts, cereal, packets of oatmeal, juice boxes or pouches, fruit gummies or twists, raisins, pretzels.
- Choose a hotel / vacation destination / region that caters to families. Our hotel had a big playground that would have occupied Natalie for the entire weekend if we'd wanted, and I think the next trip we plan will include packing a list of directions for every playground or playplace within a few miles of our hotel so that we'll always have that as a back-up plan for Natalie to run off some energy and explore.
- Pack only the critical stuff. We've made the mistake of over-packing a million times, but we've cut back a lot lately. Books & movies & a couple of dolls get us through, and we can leave the rest of it behind. A few crayons & some paper, and maybe one new smallish toy (heck, even a Happy Meal toy) can get us through. It's no use packing the car to the gills, and I think it's probably a good lesson for Natalie to learn that she can pick and choose just a few things to bring with us when we go on vacation.
- Once you find something that works, keep doing it. We ate at a random spaghetti place on our first night in town, and it was so good and family-friendly that when Natalie said she wanted to go back for diner the next night, we immediately said yes. It would have been fun to check out a new restaurant, but what I really wanted was a meal where we were all well-fed and content, so Joe's Spaghetti Shed it was.