European adventure...with a one year old
This is Laila. She is a world traveler.
I’ve done my fair share of international travel and always considered myself a “good traveler”. I pack lightly, I move through the airport efficiently, I adapt easily. But travel with a one year old is a different game entirely. This summer’s vacation to Belgium and Greece was preceded by weeks of anxiety and countless imagined worst-case scenarios. My normally light and organized carry on was stuffed with diapers, meals (no way was Laila eating airplane food), new toys that promised to keep her entertained, and extra clothes for her and me because shit happens. Literally. Oh, and my laptop because as a solo entrepreneur, there is no leaving the business behind for almost three weeks.
While the flight didn’t meet worst-case scenario status, it wasn’t a good time. Laila didn’t want to sleep…we did. The minority won. So my husband and I made our best attempts at playing…soothing…and repeating. Every so often, I’d think “we MUST be almost there,” and the flight tracker map would inform me we still had plenty of time left. We arrived exhausted and with frayed nerves, only to be greeted by a very long line at passport control. I groaned and gave my husband a look that meant something like FML/I’m never doing this again. But then Laila started smiling, waving, and blowing kisses to each person we passed as the line snaked back and forth. Her brightness was contagious. We were there, and we were ok.
We spent a week in the Ardennes (Belgium) with my husband’s family, exploring sleepy little villages and taking long walks through the woods. Next we flew to Athens for a week in Greece with my family. My youngest brother was marrying an awesome chica of Greek/Korean origin, and their big Greek dream wedding was days away! In addition to loving Greek cuisine, I’ve been slightly obsessed with Greek mythology since the fifth grade, so you can imagine I was pretty excited to finally be IN Greece, home to Aphrodite, Hermes, Apollo…and spanakopita.
Our Beco baby carrier was a lifesaver throughout the trip. It was by far the easiest and most comfortable way to see the sights, Laila in tow. We wandered the streets of Athens, climbed the Acropolis, visited museums, shopped, and ate. The wedding itself was epic! We kept Laila up a little past her bedtime so she could be a part of it - she actually warmed up the dance floor. Then we put her in the hands of a capable babysitter while we partied with our family into the early morning hours.
Then it was off to the island of Paros…which we chose for its soft, sandy beaches and more kid-friendly vibe. We rented a hilltop villa and enjoyed a few days of relaxation, epic sunsets, and incredible food. Then, it was time to repack and mentally prepare for another never ending travel day.
The flight back home was even worse. But once again, we made it, and it was all ok. I loved sharing the experience of seeing a new country with Laila, and look forward to many more international trips with her. Also…I’ve never been so happy to be home : )
Any tips for conquering travel with a toddler? Or great places to visit with kids? I’d love to hear them!