Okay, we went to Yellowstone a year ago and I’m just getting around to writing this. But I’ve been thinking about traveling with my kids a lot lately as we get first to take our first family vacation as a family of four.
I wasn’t sure how a trip trip to Yellowstone with a toddler while I was pregnant was going to go. I was mostly worried that I would not be feeling well. But we had so much fun and I’m so glad we did it.
I think that a lot of times you hear stories about how traveling with kids isn’t a vacation, it’s a “trip.” And yeah, it’s obviously different than traveling with only adults. But I have always loved traveling with M. I don’t take for granted how lucky we are to be able to take trips together and to have this time together. It absolutely feels like a vacation.
She was so excited for everything we did. She loved seeing all of the geysers and kept asking us when she would see more. I loved seeing the wonder in her eyes as she was in absolute awe of the geysers. I mean, geysers are cool and all, but seeing how excited my toddler got made me even more excited about them. She loved going on hikes and even did a lot of the trails herself.
It is a 10-hour drive from Denver to Yellowstone. If it was just Nick and me, we would have gone straight trough. But that was not going to happen with a toddler, so we broke up the drive by stopping for a night on the way. As you may expect, there was not much in between Denver and Yellowstone, but we found a town about halfway called Casper. We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn with a pool. When we got there, we got dinner at Texas Roadhouse and played in the pool. It was nothing special but it was a perfect halfway stop and it was a lot of fun. I have such awesome memories from our time there.
Nick and I are used to going and seeing as much as possible whenever we travel, but I really like the slow pace of traveling with a toddler.
We would take out time getting ready and having breakfast. We’d pick one or two things to do in the morning, then have nap time, and then pick one or two things to do in the afternoon. Instead of racing to do every single thing, we took the time to slow down, pick the things we really wanted to see, and enjoy them without rushing.
I felt like I got to enjoy Yellowstone so much more because I was with my toddler.
If you have ever been around a toddler you know it takes much longer to do anything with a toddler. We would stop to look at flowers, to take in the sights, to sit and have a snack. I really cherished those slow moments because they make me appreciate everything so much more. I loved not rushing around and just being in the moment. Toddlers are very in the moment.
We splurged to stay in the park and I am really glad that we did. It saved a lot of time driving every day so we had more time to see stuff. Plus, we wanted to be able to get back to the room for nap time whenever we could. My toddler is still not the kind of kid who can skip naps and I really wanted to make sure that she got good naps in our hotel room every day to keep her refreshed and happy.
I loved going back to the hotel for nap time because I liked the break as well! Maybe it was because I was pregnant, but that time to recharge in the middle of the day was really nice.
I also really liked that we had to get back to the room early enough to put M to bed. After she went to sleep, Nick and I would stay up a little bit longer to play games and hang out, but we usually were also so tired from hiking that we would go to bed not long after her. It was a great excuse to go to bed early every night.
We spend a lot of time together as a family. But I feel like Nick and I also spend a lot of time tag teaming. When we are at home all together, I often feel like one of us needs to be cleaning or doing laundry or meal prepping. So one of us will hang with the kids and the other will do chores a lot of the time. We do spend a lot of time all together, but it’s just different. When we are on vacation, we can just relax and be together.
She definitely won’t remember this trip. She was only two years old when we took it. But this trip became a tiny part of who she is. I truly believe that travel experiences like this are helping form the person she will become.
Last year, we took two trips to national parks and then shorter camping weekend trips in our trailer. I can see her love of the outdoors blossom. She loves to be in nature. She loves to go on hikes. She loves exploring new places.
If we don’t take her to new places, if we don’t let her explore new things, if we don’t let her get dirty in nature, how will she learn to love these things?