Compared to some of our other jet-setting friends, it took us a long time to get around to flying with Laurel, and things went remarkably well. In part, I think this was related to traveling with a 3-year-old who can sink her teeth into an activity with relative independence, communicate needs, understand instructions, and not need as much gear. But we also made some planning decisions that made travel enormously easier:
1.) Booking a hotel suite. I’ve written before about how great it was to book adjoining hotel rooms in order to have a separate space for Laurel at bedtime (so we weren’t left sitting in the dark at 8 p.m. bedtime). This time, we got even smarter and only priced out hotels that offered suites. We stayed at a Marriott and the suite wasn’t fancy or sprawling, but the bedroom-plus-common area worked perfectly and was less expensive than booking two adjoining rooms. The suite also included a small refrigerator, which was handy for storing milk and snacks.
2.) Reserving a crib. Truthfully, Laurel is too big for a hotel crib or Pack ‘n Play (what some hotels offer when you reserve a crib) but she’s not a very accommodating bed buddy and actually likes to think of the Pack ‘n Play as camping gear. We brought our own sheet and blanket but the hotel also kindly provided these items for us; ask ahead of time about crib bedding if you want to save on luggage space.
3.) Reserving a car seat with the rental car. This may seem a little controversial, and I definitely had a moment of regret when I saw a few other parents hauling their car seats through the airport, but I ultimately was glad we didn’t have to worry about hauling or busting our own. We rented from Budget and the car seat wasn’t fancy but it was functional and arrived as promised, spotlessly wrapped in plastic.
4.) Doubling back for the stroller. I have long loved our lightweight little Maclaren Triumph, and I am eternally grateful that we risked missing our flight to double back and get the stroller. Because we were totally off schedule in San Francisco, the stroller served excellent duty when, for example, Laurel passed out for two hours while we strolled the Japanese Tea Gardens and then went for sushi. Not to mention that I didn’t see a single cheapo umbrella stroller for sale during our travels; we would have been in trouble without the Triumph.
Also: I have sung the praises of our One Step Ahead Folding Folding Potty Seat before and I’ll sing ‘em again. The peace of mind in the airport and plane bathrooms was incomparable.