Toddler Travel: 5 Lessons From Our First Family Flight

Some families travel frequently and their Instagram feeds are filled with beautiful photos from incredible destinations. This blog is not for them.

This blog is for the family that has to prepare, save up, and plan every detail of their vacation in order to make the most of their limited funds or time off from work. It’s for the families who only dream of maybe finally taking that family vacation next year. You know, the trip that didn’t work out this year.

Listen up, fam – you can make it happen! If you’re not sure where to start, I’m here to share some tips to help you see the world with your little one(s). Here are a few things I learned from our first cross-country family vacation:

1. Children under 2 fly free on a parent’s lap.

For many jet-setters, this is common knowledge. For families looking to afford their first trip together, this information might be a game-changer. For us, this information was used as motivation to finally book our trip from New York to California before our son’s 2nd birthday. For our family of three, purchasing one less plane ticket meant making a cross-country trip much more affordable.

There’s a lot to consider when flying with your baby or toddler, and flying with a lap child might not be the best solution for everyone. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges travelers to secure children in a child safety restraint system in flight, which does require the purchase of an additional ticket per child. More information about the FAA’s recommendations can be found by visiting their website.

2. Car seats and strollers can be checked for free.

Airlines allow travelers to check a car seat and stroller free of charge. We opted to gate check our stroller so that we had it available for navigating busy airports. We did check our car seat at the counter with our other baggage since we opted to fly with our son in our laps.

If you do plan to check a car seat, as we did, there are some things to be aware of. Car Seats for the Littles, Inc is a 501(c)(3) organization, staffed by Child Passenger Safety Technicians who advocate for car seat safety.

They recommend placing the car seat in a box (its original packaging is preferred) with padding, and gate checking if possible. The concern is that car seats may arrive at your destination with damage that cannot be seen. You can read more about their suggestions for air travel with children at csftl.org.

3. Flying at night worked better for us.

This one will obviously depend on your child’s temperament, schedule and sleep patterns. Our son hasn’t always been the most reliable napper, but sleeps deeply and consistently overnight. I’ve also found that overnight flights, for the most part, are darker and more quiet, creating a better environment for toddler sleep.

We had a more difficult time finding an overnight flight for our trip home, so we ended up flying during our son’s normal nap time. Predictably, our son did not nap during the flight and the result was a restless, over-tired toddler during our long journey home.

4. Expect some sleep schedule adjustment and plan accordingly.

We intentionally left our schedule open for our first full day in California. This was such a good idea, as we all were adjusting the time different and lack of sleep from our long trip. Toddlers, in particular, require some leeway and grace in this department. A regular sleep schedule is essential to most children at this age, so a major deviation can (and probably will) cause some crankiness. Be prepared for an adjustment period!

5. Accept that screen time can be a big help.

Our family is generally not in favor of excessive screen time. While we haven’t exactly followed the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines to a T, we usually try to focus on daily activities that include outdoor time, physical activities, and imaginative play. A lot of online resources suggest bringing along your child’s favorite toys and books. However, we found in packing for our trip that the items we could carry only provided about 15 minutes of entertainment at a time.

I had a strong feeling that this would not suffice for a 5+ hour flight, so I purchased several episodes of our son’s favorite age-appropriate show (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!) and some over-the-ear headphones for him to enjoy during the flight. I didn’t want to be that mom who lets her toddler run up and down the aisle of the cabin, so I opted for a bit of screen time to keep him quiet, happy and in his seat for much of the flight.

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Are you ready to book a flight with your toddler? Where are you heading? I’d love to hear about your family adventures in the comments below!

Keep exploring,

Alli Signature

The Greatest Adventure of All

IMG_0674Experts suggest that when returning to blogging after a hiatus, it’s best to not even mention your absence. Just jump right back into it as if nothing happened. That’s great in theory, however my absence from blogging is pretty hard to ignore for a couple of reasons.

For starters, the length of my blogging hiatus is pretty significant. My last published post was in February of 2016 – a year and a half ago! That’s a long time – practically a lifetime in the digital realm. I probably lost a lot of followers who I worked hard to connect with.

More important than the length of my absence, however, is what happened during it. A lot of big, life-changing things happened since February 2016, and I can’t wait to share them with my readers, old and new.

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As you may have guessed from the new name and URL of this blog, I had a baby! Becoming a mom has changed my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined, so naturally, it will change my blog as well! As Trekking on Two Feet transforms into Trekking Mom, you can expect the same type of posts, but from the perspective of a first-time mom trying to raise her own little adventurer.

I’ll be sharing some of the amazing experiences from pregnancy and life as a new mom, and of course, our family adventures to come.

If you’re still following, hey there! I’ve missed you! What have you been up to for the past year and a half?! Tell me about your adventures, big and small, in the comments below!

Keep exploring,Alli Signature

The World’s Cutest Snowboarder

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Yeah he’s cute, but someone else has got him beat.

I hate to be a traitor to my very talented partner (who gets all the credit for turning me on to snowboarding in the first place), but another snowboarder now has my complete adoration. Her name is Sloan Henderson and she’s only one year old! Sloan’s snowboarding video is going viral and has been featured on Today, ABC News and more. Check out her first time on the slopes in the video below!


Seriously – #lifegoals. You can also check out her snowboarding progression on her YouTube channel. This girl has some seriously rad parents and natural talent for “cruisin” on her board! I hope we see more of this little lady’s adventures in the future, complete with lots and lots of smiles and high-fives!

What do you think about Sloan’s snowboarding adventures? Is it possible to watch that video without wanting to give her some major high-fives?! Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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New Year’s Eve at Owl’s Head

My partner and I decided to plan a spontaneous trip to the Adirondacks to ring in the new year with some hiking and snowboarding. We found an affordable last-minute hotel room in Lake Placid (thanks to the Maple Leaf Inn, again!) and set out first thing in the morning on New Year’s Eve.

Summit of Owl's Head

Since we pre-purchased all day lift tickets for New Year’s Day at Whiteface Mountain, we decided that a short, non-strenuous hike would be best for New Year’s Eve. We both absolutely love the high peaks, but we knew we probably would be too sore to enjoy a full day of snowboarding after climbing one, so we chose a quick hike for that afternoon at Owl’s Head in Keene, NY.

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A blue sign marks the trailhead on Owl’s Head Lane

Owl’s Head is a great short hike in the high peaks region. Located right off Route 73 in Keene, the hike begins at the trailhead on a dirt road in private property and goes a mere 0.6 mile up to the summit. The trail is mostly uphill, but not very challenging, and reaches a final elevation of 2120′.

The trail was snowy and icy on December 31st, but it was packed down enough that snowshoes weren’t necessary. I used my new Yaktrax and my partner wore a cheap, knock-off pair of Nanospikes that I use for flat, icy winter runs. This turned out to be plenty traction for our brief hike, although my Yaktrax fell off my boots TWICE and by the time we got back to the car we noticed most of the spikes had fallen off the running spikes my partner wore.

The trail has a few open areas that could be mistaken for false summits, but these spots offer some nice views on the way up. Just before reaching the actual summit, there is a very steep rocky ledge that hikers must traverse on left side. Here the trail gets quite narrow, with a steep drop off on one side which can be a little intimidating. This brief section can be a little  tricky, but shouldn’t be a problem if you move slowly and step carefully.

After a steep scramble, the open rock summit offers extraordinary views of the surrounding high peaks. We stayed up at the summit for a while, enjoying the views and watching the clouds roll over the mountains. It’s an incredibly rewarding climb that requires relatively little work.

Alli at Summit 2

After a while at the summit, the wind started to pick up and our body temperatures began to cool so we made our way back down to the trailhead. Typically when hiking in the high peaks, the descent seems to take forever. On this hike, however, it feels like it took us no time at all to reach the trailhead.

Owl's Head Pano Before Summit

We passed a group of three hikers who summited just before we began our descent, and then we passed another group just heading out as we got back to the car. There is very limited parking, mostly on the side of the road near the trailhead. When we arrived we were the only vehicle, but by the time we left the area was crowded with several more.

As someone who enjoys hiking the Adirondack High Peaks, I can’t emphasize enough just how easy and enjoyable this hike is. It is a great trek for someone who wants to experience the high peaks without putting in the work required to summit one of the tallest 46. This can be done in an afternoon, evening or even sunrise hike before exploring more of what the Adirondacks have to offer. It was the perfect hike for our trip, since we were not too sore or tired to enjoy several hours of snowboarding the next day.

Owl's Head GoPro Selfie

What did you do to ring in the new year? Any exciting outdoor adventures planned? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series – Race 2

Last Wednesday, December 30th was the second race in the 2015-2016 Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series. It was a cooler day, with high temperatures barely into the 40s (F) and even cooler by race time that night. The day started out pretty nicely, and I decided to warm up for the evening’s event by going for a short hike with a friend of mine early that afternoon.

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Map of our hike from MapMyRun. I forgot to start recording until a quarter mile into our hike.

We hiked about 4 miles through the trails of Seneca Park in the northern part of Rochester, NY. This park features great trails along the eastern side of the Genesee River gorge. The park’s location, adjacent to the zoo, also means hikers might be lucky enough to catch a peak of the elephants from one of the trails!

It was cool and cloudy during our hike, but otherwise a nice afternoon. We brought my friend’s dog along and ran into a handful of other runners, hikers, mountain bikers and dogs on the trails. All in all it was a pleasant outing and a wonderful time catching up with a fellow trail-loving friend. We both find trail time to be incredibly therapeutic!

The agreeable weather ended shortly after our hike, however, and turned into cold rain for the entire evening. So not only were us Snow Cheap runners soaking wet, but the trails were incredibly muddy and slippery. I did manage to fall pretty spectacularly early in the race.

The race was about 3.5 miles and took 2 loops through Cobbs Hill Park. Besides being muddy and slippery, this course was also notably hilly – adding yet another challenging element. My strategy for this race was slow and steady, as I repeated the mantra “Don’t get hurt, Alli. Don’t get hurt!”

12-30 Snow Cheap run map

Since we had just booked an Adirondack hiking and snowboarding getaway for the following day, which included $85 nonrefundable lift tickets, injury was simply not an option at this event. Besides my little slip-and-fall early in the first lap, my strategy paid off and I managed to stay on my feet the rest of the race. I finished with an embarrassingly slow finish time (I can imagine many runners felt that way this night!) but no injuries, making the night a success.

Thanks to the conditions that night there were more than a couple of times I seriously considered quitting – something that almost never crosses my mind mid-race. However, I stuck with it, had a couple of good laughs, and finished strong and injury-free. That’s worth more than a fast finish time in my book!

Has there ever been a time when you were close to giving up? Did you quit, or finish what you started? There’s no shame in honoring yourself and listening to your body! Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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New Gear For The New Year

After-Christmas sales and gift cards provide the perfect opportunity to gear up for adventure in the new year ahead. I took advantage of some great sales and generous gifts in order to get some things to facilitate my 2016 exploits. I can’t wait to see what new adventures await with my bargain finds!

Snowboarding

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I visited the Waterloo Premium Outlets and scored a great deal on a Columbia jacket, perfect for snowboarding and other outdoor winter activities. I also snagged a pair of Under Armour snowboarding socks from DICK’S that were discounted more than 50% off the original price. Since I wore an old pair of my partner’s snowboarding goggles last year, I was thrilled to find a nice, inexpensive pair at my local Marshalls.

Running

Fleet Feet Sports Rochester had an “end of year blowout sale” that I just had to check out. I ended up getting a nice pair of Saucony Peregrine 5 trail running sneakers. My previous pair of trail running shoes are my three-year-old Adidas Kanadia that have almost no tread left whatsoever. Needless to say, it was time for a new pair of trail runners. Since I’ve run in the Saucony Kinvara 4 and Saucony Virrata before, I knew these would be a good fit. They were on sale for $70 at Fleet Feet, and a $50 VISA gift card from my office brought my out-of-pocket total to only $20. What a steal!

Hiking

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I used a mall gift card to purchase a pair of Yaktrax Walk traction devices from DICK’S Sporting Goods. These will help me when hiking or walking in icy and snowy conditions. I checked a couple of stores to see if these were on sale anywhere, and they weren’t. I didn’t feel bad paying full price since they were only $20 and I had a gift card to use at the mall anyway.

Yoga/Gym

I picked up a few sports bras that were inexpensive at Marshalls and on clearance at DICK’S, because there’s no such thing as too many sports bras when you’re an active woman! I also found this Rochester Marathon tank top for 75% off at the Fleet Feet Sports sale. Since I ran this half marathon back in 2014 I decided it was okay to buy the cute “Run Roc Run!” tank top! I also picked up a new pair of running shoes from the Nike outlet store to help keep me motivated during treadmill season.

Did you get any new gear this holiday season? What are you most looking forward to adding to your adventures and fitness routines in 2016? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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So This Is Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve and here in Rochester, NY we broke the record high temperature with a beautiful day above 60 degrees. I’ve been complaining quite a bit lately about the lack of snow in our area (I’m aching to get back on my snowboard!) but today’s warm temperatures and sunny skies were really quite pleasant.


I decided to take advantage of this rare December weather by going for a short run – which was all I really had time for with final Christmas preparations today. I ran about a mile and a half through Turning Point Park, which was full of people and families out walking and enjoying the nice day. It was quite nice running in a short sleeve shirt and capri running pants! I even ran into my partner who was out for a bike ride in the park as well.


Yesterday I got a lovely Christmas delivery in the mail – a beautiful compass ornament from the Etsy shop She Likes Letters. The ornament was a giveaway from Dana, the blogger at Blisters and Bug Bites. Check out her blog and subscribe to follow her adventures!


How was the weather on your Christmas Eve – did you get to do anything outside? Any fun holiday plans this year? Please share in the comments below!

Warmest wishes and happy holidays,Alli Signature