Recently my family traveled to eastern Virginia and Washington D.C. for vacation. After several hours and multiple methods of travel, I wanted to weigh the pros and cons of each.
Our first leg was an early morning flight from DFW to Reagan International. We normally prefer to take an Uber or hire a car rather than park at the airport. We prefer to bring our own carseat however most limo companies will offer their own seat. Don’t forget that the DART Orange line ends at DFW’s terminal A but with a toddler, it can become pretty cumbersome.
Airport security has been receiving media coverage about the long lines. I applied for the TSA precheck and it makes traveling with a child so much easier. Shorter lines, no removal of shoes/liquids/laptops, and children are allowed to accompany you until they are 12. If you fly more than once or twice a year, this may be worth it for you and your spouse.
Once through security and waiting on the plane, I let my toddler get away with pretty much anything. In my mind, she needs to expel as much energy as possible so she can settle down on the plane. One product we found and use are gate check bags for the stroller and car seat. Easy to fold up and store, these bright bags make it easy for the luggage crew to spot. When boarding, be prepared for the looks and sighs of relief when you pass by. While in flight, find a show or some games on the phone to keep your child’s attention. With any luck, she will fall asleep for a good portion of the flight.
After landing, we had a 4 hour drive to our destination. The LAST thing that a toddler wants to do after a long flight is ride in the car. Renting a car gives you the freedom to take your time to get to the destination. It can be tough to navigate a new city and can be extremely frustrating to get caught in traffic. For me, driving is almost a last resort with my little person.
After arriving, we traveled back to D.C. via train to experience America’s capitol. This was my first time on an Amtrak train for a long trip and we had a blast. Free Wifi, snacks from the food train, beautiful views; This was the most stress free travel we experienced. We grabbed four seats facing one another with a table in the middle. Our experience was so great we are planning a trip next year using the train as our primary mode of transportation. Keep in mind the trains can run late so if you’re on a tight timeline, you may want to find an alternative.
Overall traveling with your toddler doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Careful planning, patience, and flexibility are a must; Just like parenting.