Day Trips: Bringing along Toddler

The idea of bringing a little one along on a day trip is daunting.

Where to go that will capture their interest, what to bring, what to do…

No longer can the carefree couple be truly carefree. A lot of planning goes into the whole process of taking a day trip when bringing a little one along.

That said, taking a day trip with a little one isn’t impossible, nor is it difficult to plan. It just takes a little extra prep the first couple of times and once everything is in place, it should be a breeze each time you want to take a trip.

Prepping a “Go Bag”

The quintessential item that should come along each trip, besides a diaper bag, is what I like to call a “go bag.” This bag is filled with books, toys, activities, and snacks that are age appropriate and “special” because they solely reside in this bag and aren’t for play at any other time.

I try to swap out a different and legitimately new toy each time to keep the bag somewhat fresh, but only if I have the time to pick something up. If not, the novelty of the bag tends to be enough.

In Jai’s Go Bag:

  • Small pots of non-toxic “dough”
  • Water marker and activity set
  • Several small figurines
  • Wooden noisemaker (that isn’t too obnoxious for us)
  • Wooden car
  • Special stuffed animal
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Stickers
  • Board books
  • Flashcards
  • Stretchy string ball
  • Non-perishable snacks that can sit between trips without going bad (and easy to use in the car)

I try to keep everything tactile in nature at this point because Jai is very touch-oriented. As he gets older, I will probably switch in some books and more activity sets that are easy to handle in the car.

As a last resort, we bring a tablet pre-loaded with some of Jai’s favorite movies so we can hand it to him if he is unable to occupy his time with everything in the bag. This is especially ideal for air travel where we’re in confined spaces and loud noises.

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Rainy Days: Visiting the Library

I was lucky enough to live in a small, rural town growing up. There wasn’t a lot to do because of it, but it was perfect if you were a parent wanting a child to get creative with their entertainment.

In the summer, if I wanted to get away from the house, I had two choices: pool on the sunny days and library on the overcast/rainy days. Living in a valley in rural New England meant that there were plenty of days where I would have to go to the library as clouds got trapped by the mountains.

I loved my little library. Repurposed from an old Victorian farmhouse, the downstairs was filled with books, while the upstairs housed a creepy taxidermy collection and stored books meant for the summer book sale. The library was run by volunteers, so they were all older women who were either retired or looking to get away from their retired husbands.

This also meant it was extremely low-tech. I left my old town in 2008 and I believe they just got a computer for public use in 2005. I grew up knowing and loving the smell of a card catalog. The place was so tiny that I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t still use one because hunting through the cards or shelves might be faster than doing a computer search.

I loved my peach-colored, cardstock library card. It got so worn and frayed around the edges from use and lived with a place of honor in my wallet. It was the only card that actually did something, as most of the other cards were pretend or store loyalty cards.

Going to the children’s section, I knew where all my favorite books and series were located. I broke my visits down into two parts: the books I wanted to read there and books I wanted to take home with me.

I can’t remember the names of the series, but there were some short children’s books meant for teaching manners that had interesting artwork I read every time. They were super short so I would spend a half-hour reading through these books before moving on.

I was such a voracious reader as a child that I had to get two to three young adult books because I had a tendency to read a book a day. It was the reason why my parents encouraged me to go to the library when I was old enough: they could not afford to keep up with my reading habit. Book fairs, bookstores, all were a bane to my savings because I had to buy more books that I would finish in a couple of days.

The library was a wonderful way to save both my chore/odd job money and give me a sense of independence to go somewhere unsupervised.

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