We just returned from our trip to Washington D.C. and I’ve sat down several times to blog some travel tips with no luck. Then I realized why. Because this trip was HARD! Of the many places Lincoln and I have explored together, I think this trip may have been the most challenging, for a multitude of reasons.
- Lincoln got sick our second day there. (Note the massive amount of snot in nearly every photo)
- The crowds were overwhelming and one can only wait in so many lines with a 19 month old.
- The (absolutely stunning) historical architecture often meant that restaurants and buildings were not easily accessible with a stroller.
- MANY of the buildings we visited did not have changing tables in the restrooms.
These are just a handful of the things (and there were SO many) that made doing D.C. with a baby difficult. Reflecting on the trip though, I have no regrets. I am so glad I got to experience this great city with my child and would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, we probably will do it again very soon.
The truth about traveling with a baby is that it’s hard. It’s different. And it takes work. But it is doable, and if you, like me, want your role as a parent to mean living life even more fully alongside your child and creating a full life for him or her, I encourage you to do the work. Just make it happen.
The more you travel, the easier it will get. Some destinations will present more challenges than others, but every one of them will represent an opportunity to show your child that it’s worth it to choose the more challenging road, to take reasonable risks, and to be flexible. Lincoln is comfortable traveling in a variety of seat types and vehicles. He has learned to sleep in a multitude of environments. He has a palette that surpasses most adults that I know. Most important to me is that he experiences the diversity of God’s most beautiful creation – people. He has the opportunity to interact with, learn from, and experience them. People who look different than he does, who speak different languages, and who live a different lifestyle. The lessons may seem small and fruitless when they are this young. But I don’t believe that for a second. I believe the opposite to be true; that our children at this age learn exponentially more than we can even imagine, and that they learn from their environment and the people in it.
When Lincoln got sick, we slowed our busy schedule, allowed him to rest when he needed it, and made sure he was well hydrated.
When the lines seemed too long to wait in, we hopped in anyway, equipped with a few toys, snacks, and games to keep baby occupied while teaching him about patience.
When we couldn’t navigate certain spaces because they were inaccessible with the stroller, we left it behind, confident that people are good and that it would be there when we returned. It always was.
When there was no changing table, we changed diapers standing up in a stall (not my favorite and I’ll save the horror stories for later) in the stroller, or laid a blanket down in the grass.
Not only did we survive, but we had the trip of a lifetime, all obstacles aside. There were a few brief moments where I thought to myself, “I’m not ever doing this again,” and “we’re going to stay home for a while after this one.”
That was in the midst of some struggle, and I’m human – I get discouraged sometimes just like everyone else.
But then we visited the Lincoln Memorial and I saw my baby gaze up in awe at the man he was named after.
I listened to him say please, thank you, and no thank you to the waiter at a very nice restaurant where child patrons were clearly a rarity; something he can do at 19 months because he has had lots and lots of practice in situations just like this one. While we were met with some hesitation the first time we visited, we were welcomed with open arms the second time.
I listened in amazement as he quickly picked up new words and phrases that we may not have discussed had we not been in D.C.
I watched as he interacted with children and adults from cultures around our earth, like he’d known them his whole life; something he wouldn’t get to do if we stayed put in our very small town.
We will most definitely do it again. And we won’t be home from long. Our next adventure, challenge, and opportunity to learn and grow together is just around the corner.