|Simon passed out in the songtow|
We never had any illusions that traveling with a 2 year old would be easy. We have traveled a fair amount with Simon, but a 4 month backpacking trip is unlike anything we have ever done, with or without a 2 year old. Usually we only minorly disrupt his routines and naps, so things go pretty smoothly. This trip is a little bit different...Routines went out the door the day we left. Naps have been sporadic and bed times range from 8pm to midnight. This has been a really big challenge. It's not always feasible to come back in the middle of the day for a nap, it can make it hard to get out and do other things. This was especially true in Dubai and Bangkok where I think the only naps he got were in strollers or on car rides. I remember he fell asleep for the whole car ride out to our desert safari, a huge relief or it could have been a very ugly evening.
In Chiang Mai things have improved. Because he was sick, we slowed our pace significantly and made sleep a big priority. We are out of the big cities, so things aren't so far away and it's easier to do things for a half day. These last few days we have made naps a priority, and done only one thing each day, either morning or afternoon so that he gets his sleep (and recovers). It seems to be going much better.
Martin and I are also learning to adjust and manage our expectations. We don't have fun when Simon's not happy, so we have to plan around him. That said, we don't want to be cooped up in hotel rooms every afternoon while Simon sleeps, we want to unwind and enjoy some time without him. This has worked out splendidly here in Chiang Mai, as the guest house we are staying at has a great pool and common area to lounge around in. As a result Martin and I have enjoyed a few afternoons reading by the pool, and evenings drinking beer with new friends.
Our tip to fellow family travelers is to plan rest days. We need them as much as Simon. A big bonus for parents is to make sure that you can enjoy the down time a bit on your own terms as well. If you want to curl up and nap, great! But find a place where everyone is cozy, or take turns with your spouse to get out and enjoy wherever you are without a kid in tow.
Lesson learned: Sleep, sleep, sleep!