Traveling with Toddler Expert: Queen Christine

When I realized I was going to be traveling with 9 month old Baby Bug for about a month there was one person for me to call ->a best friend in real life, Queen Christine, who is a travel-with-toddler-in-tow expert.  Christine and her husband have spent much of the last year on the road with their two year old son.  They took Amtrak across the US, visited family in Brazil, toured Spain and France, visited little ole me and while they are currently visiting family and friends plans for another adventure are already in the works.  I’m nervous about a short road trip with my teething Miss Fussypants, I can’t imagine being in a foreign country when a 100* temperature hits or her teeth pain screams begin.  However, my friend is braver than me and throws herself head first into adventures which would have me in the fetal position.

I asked her advice and she did not disappoint.

What is your first memory of traveling? 

My earliest memory of really traveling has got to be going to Michigan from Missouri on an Amtrak train to visit my grandparents. It was so exciting, like something out of a bed time story. I got to sit next to a stranger, a very nice grandmotherly type, and she asked me all sorts of big girl questions. I just remember feeling so excited and important, like an adventurer.

Where do you find inspiration? 

Lately, I’ve become a bit of a Pinterest junky. It’s inspiration for all things, but lots of fun travel related shots. I also love reading articles and blogs when researching a specific trip or daydream.

We ain't afraid of no poop!

What was your biggest fear about becoming a traveler and how did you overcome it?

That I wouldn’t be able to REALLY travel with an infant/small child. Overcoming it really just meant sucking it up and taking a leap of faith. That first flight to Florida when he was 6 weeks old I was petrified… but, being tiny, he didn’t even care. Then came the traveling baby photo-ops and I was totally hooked. If you think you love pics of your child at home, wait ’till you get a chance to prop them up in front of a landmark! It’s exciting to look back and say that although he’s only two and half he’s been to 28 US states, 6 countries, 3 continents, ridden planes, trains, ferries, and can’t get enough of traveling himself.

Who would be your dream travel companion and why?

My son… seeing the world through the eyes of a child has been really enriching and amazing.

But, honestly, I really wanted to say was a debit card linked to an endless cash flow. Sure, I travel on the cheap, and probably still would, but no one who travels can really say they don’t have to think about money a great deal more than they wish they had to.

 

Where was your favorite place to visit so far?

Hard question, I’m gonna have to split it up.Definitely my favorite city would have to be Barcelona, Spain. I’ve been a couple of times now, and was nervous it would strike me differently as a Mom, but there are tiny playgrounds everywhere and the Spanish LOVE kids, so it was actually better than I expected.

Favorite experience would be the phosphorescent plankton bay in Puerto Rico. It was literally magical. Can’t wait to share it with our son in a few years.

Favorite memory has to be letting my two year old stay up ’till 10pm to see the Eifel Tower show. We missed the 10pm one because I took the train the wrong direction, and I just decided it was worth the moment to let him stay late. It involved me taking a wilderpee in the bushes of a park, and buying an extremely overpriced Nutella crepe, but he still talks about the “Sprinkly Awful Tower.”

 

This is what we think of fear!

What questions should a person ask themselves before leaping into traveling?

What are you gaining and what are you losing? What are you going to miss? What can you do about it? I loved skyping into my brother and sister-in-law’s baby shower in Chattanooga from Brazil… it wasn’t the same, but I at least didn’t have to totally miss it. I think you also have to consider what you’re willing to sacrifice. Most of our physical possessions have been in storage for almost a year. That’s a big deal. Leaving our dogs with my Mom is hard to do. You just have decide what you really want and what it is really worth and then be ok with your answers.

Are you independently wealthy or have you been successful in finding ways to finance your adventures?

Our big break was my husband getting a job where he can work remotely from anywhere on the planet with internet… or I suppose off the planet if we had good enough WiFi. That’s not enough though, because we couldn’t afford to pay rent/utilities and still travel, so it meant moving our things into storage and asking my parents to take care of our dogs. That is pretty intense, but we were really passionate about trying to make slow travel with our a child a reality. We are still pretty low budget travelers, but our favorite big splurge is getting a private room on a train. That is my FAVORITE way to travel by far.

Before there was facebook tagging you actually had to carve your name into cement.

Have you found social networks beneficial?  If so, which ones? 

I admit to being a Facebook junkie. Say what you will, but I love sharing pics of my son with my family the very day it happens. I’ve almost used it as a mini-travelogue that I hope to eventually turn into a write for a blog of some kind. I also mentioned Pinterest above, and it is a really good resource, as well as escape on the road for me. I wish I used Twitter more… I want to, and think it’s cool, but just can’t get into it. Google+ had the potential, but just not enough participation to really hook me. That’s why Facebook is good for me, it’s really personal with the people who are important to me.

 

What have you found to be your essentials while on the road?

Internet access. First of all, my husband has to have it to work, but if I don’t stay plugged in I go nuts. After that, for us it’s the Ergo carrier. My son is two and half, but still can’t do four or five miles on his own at our pace, so being able to easy and comfortably carry him has made a world of difference. I know folks who swear by a stroller, but the rest of the world isn’t ADA accessible, and the Ergo can stuff into a backpack when not in use. Lastly, we love our iPad. It is our second computer (my husband works from the laptop). My son can play games on it, watch podcasts, I can surf the net, check my e-mail, read a book, it can be our map and guidebook… it is just an excellent multi-tool.

What tips would you offer to a burgeoning travel blogger?

I’m a failure at blogging myself, just because I think you have to get to writing it as a habit. I think the best advice is to write often and don’t be afraid to have a ton of self-depreciating humor at your own expense. I know I don’t really want to read about anyone’s perfect calendar holiday… I want to read about getting lost and trying to order spicy tofu fritters in the Chinese part of Paris and ending up with some sort of odd drink. I want to hear the funny foibles and insider tips. It’s cliche to say write what you know, but it still holds true.

Great advice from Queen Christine as usual.  I hope one day I can live her traveling lifestyle but as she said you have to be willing to make sacrifices.  Not sure I’m ready to give up Baby Bug’s swim classes, playdates and the sweet snuggles of nap time in our own bed.  After the next month on the road with Baby Bug, I hope to find out if we are ready to travel more.

I grew up in a road tripping kind of family.  Pretty sure my first trip was a road trip to Branson, MO/Silver Dollar City or Colorado.  The first one I really remember was a road trip to Colorado with my mom, Aunt, Uncle and two cousins when I was 5.  Where was the first place you remember traveling?  Do you like to road trip or are you the luxury travel kind?

6 thoughts on “Traveling with Toddler Expert: Queen Christine”

  1. Thanks for the traveling tips from the ‘expert’. I’m getting ready to take Matthew on his first plane ride next week. Fortunately, it’s only a two hour flight so hopefully any melt downs won’t last too long.
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  2. I love travelling Junebug, probably I find it most relaxing by train but I really don´t care. Taking the children on holiday when they were young was a great experience as long as you remember to laugh.

  3. This was great! I’m already getting nervous about taking Alex on a cruise at 13 months, but if I really think about it, I think it will be just fine! My dad was a pilot, so we were able to fly for free. But the only place we ever went was to see family, like in SC. The last thing my dad wanted to do on vacation was get in a plane and stay in a hotel! But we did a lot of camping trips around Colorado – I loved those!
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