We're only slightly crazy...
I've had some strange looks when people ask how long we'll be in Italy - and that we're taking Paxton with us! I respond back to the strange looks with, "I know we're crazy!" But honestly, travel is just a huge part of our family. As a family, we have four core values and one of them is ADVENTURE. Josh and I have always operated under the mindset of "Yes!" We like to stay open-minded about opportunities instead of shutting them down and this has helped us be open-minded in our parenting when it comes to travel as well. We are so fortunate to just have a child who really enjoys travel and is a great traveler. So far he has flown to Florida, Texas and Mexico, and he also has done great with long car rides, so we've been really blessed with a kid that enjoys going on trips! His temperament has helped a lot in our decision-making for why we would say yes to a month-long trip to Italy. It may not work for every family, but for us with our remote-first jobs and this season of life, it works!
Thinking about traveling with a toddler?
First, know it's totally possible! It just takes a lot of planning and foresight. We knew we wanted to get back to Europe this year and we wanted a little longer timeframe. Traveling with a toddler means more grace and more space. So instead of planning a nonstop itinerary like we used to do in pre-Paxton years, we're giving ourselves time to breathe and enjoy one destination for a longer time with day trips and overnight trips out to other cities close by. This will allow us some breathing room in our itinerary to let Paxton rest and not feel too overwhelmed. It also takes a lot of planning to determine what to pack.
Some must-haves for us:
TushBaby Carrier (You can order your own here: https://tushbaby.com/?ref=LdZNz0kDkOmA) Use code ALIRAYMER to get 15% off your order!)
Our normal Hatch Sound Machine and Ring Camera from his nursery
Snack cups, refillable leakproof cups, small toys like stickers, coloring and popits, and a tablet (pull out for extreme emergencies with Muppet Babies already downloaded!)
We always rent any other gear needed for only a limited time in destination (like a car seat) since in Italy we will be more reliant on trains than cars
You have to be really intentional about what you choose to bring with you, especially if you pack like us - ONLY IN CARRY-ONS! Since we are going to be there a month, we actually have more flexibility to bring less. We will certainly buy toys there, and we can buy an extra piece of luggage to check and bring home with us any newfound goodies.
Will Paxton remember Italy, probably not. But we will.
Josh and I love to travel to Europe - it's the place that really speaks to us both and it's the destination that we just both really enjoy spending time in. We love the slower pace of the lifestyle, the art, culture, food, history. We are both self-proclaimed nerds, so at every corner there's something new to learn. We traveled to Italy together for the first time in 2014. Then we went back again leading a group in 2016. Our last time in Europe together was 2018, leading a group down the Rhine River on a river cruise and my last time was 2019 in Paris and Barcelona with my mom and a small group. Then we had a newborn and COVID hit, and that opportunity to get back was taken away. And like so many of my clients, we were more than ready to get back. We took a risk booking back in the fall, but we had hope that many of the COVID regulations would lessen, and we are just so grateful they have! Our only regulations are going to be wearing masks on the train which is honestly amazing considering what it was just a few months ago. So while we will be taking Paxton with us, we know this trip is for the two of us and building core memories for ourselves enjoying and sharing one of our favorite destinations with our favorite human! And honestly, Paxton will absorb so many little things while he's there. In just a few days in Mexico he had picked up a ton of Spanish and was saying "Adios" and "Gracias amigo" to many of the employees.
So I just wanted to explain our crazy idea a little bit because I know not everybody understands why we're doing this in this season, but hopefully now you understand a little bit of our thinking and our core values. I hope it inspires you to have your own adventures with your own kids - no matter how big or small. It doesn't have to be going halfway across the globe, or as long as a month, but I encourage you to foster that adventurous spirit in your kids as early as possible and they just might surprise you in what they can handle!