I’d be lying if I said our recent 12 day trip to Germany was easy. It wasn’t. Athena, my rambunctious toddler, cried a lot. She was tired for the first two days of the trip and rarely slept when she should, leaving me exhausted and with only a couple hours sleep a night. There is no question in my mind that the trip was worth it though. It changed my way of travel and my ideas about traveling with a toddler. I feel like I can accomplish anything now and I’m ready to take on even more destinations for extended periods of time. There were a few packed items that helped us along the way, making our trip more simple and manageable. I’ve shared them below with hopes that you see the world with your children in tow. Life is worth living and traveling with your family is an amazing, eye-opening experience regardless of age.
1. A Lightweight, Simple Stroller System
I brought our Joovy Groove Ultralight. It was easy to carry on and off trains, especially since it has a convenient side handle and a build-in carrying strap. There is a zippered pocket and cup holder conveniently located on the back of the stroller and two inner storage pockets to store toys, snacks, etc.. The over-sized canopy was ideal in protecting Athena from the sun and rain. Additionally, the multi-position reclining seat allowed her to nap comfortably during the day when we were out.
Originally, I was going to bring the Caboose Stand On Tandem Double Stroller so I could store the luggage in one spot while Athena enjoyed the other. The Jooy Groove Ultralight proved to be a better choice because even though Germany is super child-friendly, there were times I needed to carry everything up and down stairs. Carrying the double stroller would have been difficult. The lighter, the better when traveling internationally.
2. A Baby Carrier
Athena is getting too big and too heavy to be in a baby carrier but there were times that I just didn’t have enough hands and I couldn’t have her running freely. Having a carrier to place her in proved more “handy” than anything else. We brought the Britax Baby Carrier that features the CarryLong System, which reduces the risk of back and shoulder strain during extended wear by distributing weight across the shoulders, back, and hips. Honestly, there were days that my back was so sore, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get out of bed the next morning. At times, I was carrying Athena, the stroller, a suitcase, and a backpack up and down the train station stairs and to and from destinations. It was only because I had the carrier that I was able to do it. With the backpack on my back, Athena on the front, the stroller in one hand, and the suitcase in the other, I somehow made it.
3. Comfortable Sneakers/Runners
Tight connections via train and bus, walking in parks, to and from hotels, around cities and towns, and up to castles, exploring trails and off-the-beaten-track gems all came together to make one awesome trip and two tired feet. I was grateful to have my LOWA Gorgon GTX WS sneakers and never took them off of my feet unless I was in bed or in the shower. I wasn’t going to fancy dinner parties or evening events so casual sneakers were all that I needed. They were light, quick, and stable. Even after hours of walking and exploring, my feet still felt comfortable. The waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX was ideal during the rainy days and the climate control footbed was perfect for the hotter days. The classic black color went with everything in my bag and I didn’t have to give up style for comfort.
4. Coloring Book & Crayons
Our daily commute, whether it be to a different destination or an activity, was usually a couple hours. We covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. Trains and buses were essential and Athena could only be entertained by playing games with Mommy for so long. Coloring books and crayons were lightweight activities that proved hours of entertainment. Sometimes we just drew on the pages rather than coloring or we would spell out the things that we saw as we moved along. I probably wrote the word “tree” 1,000 times or more on our trip. She wasn’t crying, it made her happy, and it was easy to carry. I can’t complain.