Our toddler Owen has been so fortunate to have opportunities to travel the world at such a young age. He's been to Thailand, Italy, Greece, Canada, Hawaii, Disneyland, and more. We know that he won't remember most of these trips years from now, but he definitely remembers them vividly for months and has absorbed so much about other places and cultures. I believe that these global experiences will impact the person he becomes.
With Baby #2 expected this Fall, I know our lives are going to be a bit more chaotic. However, I really hope to continue exposing our kids to the amazing people and places in this world. We plan on traveling with our kids as they grow up, but there are definitely some places that would be cool to see as a young child.
Toddler Travel Bucket List:
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When my in-laws announced that the next family trip would be in Phuket, Thailand, we were initially thrilled! We had been there on our honeymoon and it was such a beautiful place! Then it hit us that we'd have a 6-month-old baby at the time of the trip.
At the time of our trip, the furthest we'd been with our infant was Lynnwood (about 45 minutes away by car). We felt vastly underprepared to trek to Asia. So, because I'm a research nut, I combed the Internet to figure out all the things we needed to pack for our trip. As you might have guessed, I completely overpacked and was stressed out for no real reason.
First of all, Owen slept the whole way to Thailand save for about 20 minutes where he was awake. My in-laws had purchased a seat for him on the flights so we brought our car seat and he was cozy and the airplane sounds soothed him to sleep. We flew on Korean Air and they gave us several bottles of premixed formula, little bottles of juice, and a kids activity pack. We saved the formula and ended up needing to use it on the trip, which was nice! And we saved the juice to drink ourselves.
When we finally arrived in Phuket, the house where we were staying had had a power outage, meaning there was no A/C. The house was very warm and I was certain that Owen would be awake all night, especially since he slept the whole way there. Again, I was proved wrong as he happily slept downstairs with my husband, where it was cooler.
At 6 months old, Owen adjusted to the time difference much better than my husband or me. We were also able to put him down for naps in the main living space (amongst 20 relatives) and he slept like a champ!
Thailand is one of the best places to bring a baby. The Thai people really love children and they genuinely like to be around them. The staff where we stayed would quickly finish their work so that they could hold Owen or play with him. As a new parent, this was amazing and it was one of the first times I was able to eat a full meal!
We were able to take him on a boat trip to see some of the other islands and he was a rockstar. I wore him in a carrier when we boarded the boat and he napped in it for awhile. The boat was covered so we were able to keep him out of the sun. He really enjoyed feeling the sand on his feet and cooling off in the water.
We also took Owen on an elephant trek through the jungle. We had done this on our honeymoon and it was a bad experience, so I was hoping this would be a better experience. While the elephants were treated much nicer, and the ride was quite pleasant, Owen did not have a good time. We strapped him in a carrier for safety, but the poor kid was beyond warm. We were cooling him with water on his head but he screamed the entire way. My mother-in-law didn't ride and waited for everyone at the loading area and someone asked her "Who would take a baby on an elephant ride?!?" She replied that was her grandson. That was our first big parenting fail while traveling.
Because we traveled with family, my husband was able to do a golf day with his brothers while I watched Owen. I was also able to do a ladies shopping day while he watched Owen. And we were able to bring Thai massage therapists to the house where we took turns getting massages and watching the baby. This gave us a lot of flexibility and down town.
Thailand is very affordable once you get over there. Massages are very inexpensive as is the food. We love to grab banana pancakes from street vendors as they make great bite-sized snacks/dessert. This would be great for toddlers and children. We also love their mango drinks and mango sticky rice! There are some areas of Phuket that are geared for "partiers" but there are many places to stay away from the city itself. The beaches are unbelievable! The sand is made from crushed coral, so it's powdery soft. The the scenery is simply stunning.
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I'm a mom to a 3-year-old and a baby. We believe in traveling as a family as soon as possible and sharing our tips and tricks with other families!