Toddler Travel

Vancouver Instagrams

Adam and I are not the most laid-back people. We get stressed pretty easily. So it's not a huge surprise that our daughter isn't super easygoing. She craves routine, just like us. Yet we've taken her on five trips so far this year? It's a work in progress, but we're slowly learning how to make our family vacations as relaxing as possible. Without further ado - how to take a somewhat restful city vacation with a toddler.

- Book a suite hotel room. We stayed at the Best Western Chateau Granville and would highly recommend it. We had a living area and separate bedroom. The bathroom opened into the living area, so we set up the pack-n-play in the bedroom. That way, we could hang out in the living area after she went to sleep and just sneak it into the bedroom when we were ready for bed.

- Find a hotel near a playground and grocery store. Just kidding, we really had no idea that our hotel would have an awesome playground across the street and an organic grocery store down the block. But it was so, so nice! We took Claire to the playground each afternoon to run off some steam between her nap and dinner. We brought Claire's favorite snacks with us, but we stopped at the grocery store for milk and breakfast supplies.

- Take showers at night. I don't know about your kids, but Claire loves to wake up at the butt crack of dawn when we're traveling. And she gets really grumpy if we take forever getting ready in the morning. Normally, at home, I shower at night and we wake up before her so that Adam can shower while I get ready. But, since we were all sleeping in the same room, we couldn't do that. By both showering at night, we were able to get ready for the day much quicker and prevent unneeded grumpiness first thing in the morning.

- Consider investing in a travel high chair. We are so glad that we brought disposable bibs, placemats, and cutlery. But I really wish we had also invested in a travel high chair. Most city hotels don't offer free breakfast, so we bought supplies and ate in the room. Claire much preferred to explore the unfamiliar surroundings than sit our laps to eat anything, which led to tears we would rather have avoided. Food in big cities is also really expensive, so with a travel high chair we definitely would have considered eating lunch in our suite as well to save a quite a few bucks.

- Plan morning activities the whole family will enjoy. I wouldn't want to drag Claire shopping on Robson Street all morning, but I also didn't want to spend a big chunk of our vacation at the Vancouver Children's Museum. An easy compromise was something Vancouver has in abundance - parks! We all loved Spanish Banks Beach and Stanley Park.

- Take as much sleep as you can get. After lots and lots of rough nights, Claire is finally getting used to sleeping in unfamiliar locations. This trip was the first time we tried having her nap in a hotel room and it went surprisingly well. So we embraced it and had her nap in the room two out of the three afternoons we were there. She woke up a much happier baby and we got a couple hours to relax. Win, win. On our last day there, she fell asleep in the stroller before we made it back to the hotel for nap time. She snoozed for an hour while we did some shopping at Roots and grabbed at doughnut at Tim Horton's. Whether it be back at the hotel or on-the-go in the stroller, without at least an hour nap in the afternoon Claire would have been an absolute mess. We'll take an agreeable kid over sight-seeing any day!

- Schedule meals for earlier than at home. Claire usually has lunch at noon and dinner at six. Between waking up much earlier and getting more activity than usual, she was ready for those meals an hour earlier than normal. We were able to do an earlier lunch pretty easily, but since we were in Vancouver with a big group of relatives, we couldn't really adjust our 6:00 dinner plans. Two nights she was extra fussy but okay overall. One night, she had a complete meltdown and we basically just had to quickly exit the restaurant in disgrace...

P.S. Can I rant for a second about how annoying it is that restaurant kid meals are so crappy? I would really appreciate a few healthier options outside of pizza and macaroni. I'm so glad we packed our own applesauce pouches and fruit cups. Definitely another good reason to invest in a travel high chair and just eat lunch at the hotel.

P.P.S. I am loving reading everyone's love stories thanks to Grace's link-up! Just in case you're interested, the quick version of how Adam and I met back in high school is right here. You can also find the proposal story here and our decision to get married in college here. Sometimes I can't believe the boy I fell for in marching band is now, eight years later, the father of my two children!

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