It must be known that a two-year-old is an intrepid traveler: all gut checks and self-care and general enthusiasm for the new and unexplored.
To be fair, a two-year-old is also a terrible traveler: indifferent to the desires of the group, unimpressed by cultural monuments, and utterly lacking in discretion or restraint when it comes to airing opinions.
We can’t all be perfect all the time.
And despite the sometimes-terrible, there’s still much to learn from the often-intrepid. Indeed, I think that there are a number of tips from The Toddler’s Guide to Travel that we’d all do well to follow. (Note: I’m not positive that such a volume exists, but it seems to me that tiny humans must get their behavioral dictums from one place or another—and that they’re certainly not always from their well-intentioned parents. The Guide to Travel is no doubt shelved not far from the Guide to Ceaseless Sing-Alongs. To be investigated.)
Herewith, the tips I’ve gathered from my own tiny
1. Learn a few words of the new language and employ them with great gusto whenever the proper occasion arises and even when it doesn’t. If you sometimes shout “Merci!” to strangers passing you on a hike, they will smile cordially and wonder about what nicety they unwittingly extended. Please, thank you, hello, goodbye and croissant are all terribly useful.
2. Nap it off. Everyone the world over could use a little post-lunch siesta. Stop pushing yourself on to the next museum and give yourself a moment or two to rest. Your feet are tired, you’re getting grumpy, and your family members love you very much but could probably use a small break from you.
3. Eat often. No one travels well on an empty stomach and a chief joy of being in a new place is to partake in the local culinary customs. It would be a shame to leave a place without sampling one of everything from the pastry shop. Begin your sampling early, return often, and leave no crumb behind.
4. Embrace the great outdoors. You might get ten glorious minutes out of an art museum, but find a pile of sand and a bucket to shovel it into and there’s potential for an hour of delight. Running pell-mell through any open space is to be encouraged.
5. Revel in inclement weather. A rainy day is a chance to splash in puddles. Soggy shoes make hilarious noises. Mud is friend, not foe. Run in the rain now and laugh about it later.