Traveling with Toddlers: Navigating Mental Health and Patience with Summer Travel

Traveling with Toddlers: Navigating Mental Health and Patience with Summer Travel

Monica Roerig Olano and her family with 3 kids under two traveling

Hey fellow moms! If you’re gearing up for summer travel with little ones in tow, I’ve got some stories and tips that might just help you through. Traveling with my three kids under three — yes, you heard that right — has been a rollercoaster of diapers, tears, giggles, negotiations and learning the hard way that flexibility is key.

Our epic journey began with what I thought was a solid yet bold move: a 17-hour drive to Iowa with my not quite two year old and four month old twins so I could be closer to my family for “help.” Unknowingly lost in the grips of postpartum anxiety and depression, with alcohol as my crutch, I figured, “Why not dive back into travel?” Spoiler alert: it was chaotic.

The next wild idea? Disney. Because nothing says ‘recovering from postpartum anxiety’ like throwing yourself into the most magical (and crowded) place on Earth, with three kids under two, am I right? It seemed like a good idea at the time — especially when comparing myself to my cousin who was managing to go at the same time with five kids. And my husband’s family would be with us, we’d have all the help we needed, right? Not. At. All.

Those early day trips before my daughter was even two yet and my twins were not even six months old were tough. I was in a dark place, struggling until I got the help I needed — therapy, the right meds, and ditching the booze. And guess what? The travel urge didn’t fade; it just got smarter. Flying to Iowa instead of driving, when my twins were almost one and my daughter was an elderly two and a half, seemed like a brilliant tweak. Yet, there we were: stranded overnight in Dallas, racing through the airport with a double stroller, a toddler, and not nearly enough diapers or formula.

Our beach trip was another level of organized chaos: four adults, eight kids crammed into one beach house for a week. My twins were almost one, my oldest was two and a half, and my cousin brought her gang of five, aged nine, six, three and identical twin boys at 18 months. It was a wild ride, but it was worth every crazy moment.

So here’s my take: Postpartum challenges? They’re as real as they get, and if you’re feeling off, get help. You’re not alone. Reach out, talk to someone, because getting the right support can turn your world right-side up.

As for traveling with tots? Forget the perfect packing list — it does not exist. Embrace the mess, take a deep breath, and tackle each challenge as it comes. Always pack the essentials — snacks, toys, diapers, a change of clothes (or three). And remember, your flexibility and humor are just as crucial as any travel hack. Enjoy those little moments — even when they come with a side of mayhem.

Now traveling sober, with my mental health in check, I’m actually enjoying it all. Mishaps have become part of the adventure, and those magic moments? They’re genuinely magical now. When it comes to traveling with your partner, remember: they’re not your adversary. It’s easy to feel like they’re pushing your buttons, but remember, we’re all just trying to survive. Show a little grace and communicate openly. If something bothers you, share it calmly — chances are, they want to help make things smoother just as much as you do.

So, pack your patience, maybe a few extra diapers, and dive into the adventure. Roll with the punches, laugh when things go sideways, and seek out those unexpected joys. After all, isn’t a little chaos part of the fun of family travel? Happy trails, mamas!

Monica Roerig Olano
First, a wife and then a mom to three under three, born within 18 months amidst infertility challenges—my life's chaos is my strength. Beyond family, I left a successful corporate career to launch my own digital marketing consultancy. Diagnosed with ADHD later in life and navigating postpartum struggles, I've turned these challenges into superpowers, fueling my mission to start a sober-ISH revolution. Through my podcast and initiatives, I aim to expose the truth about alcohol and enlighten society on healthier alternatives. Visit my website linked above to dive into my journey, resources, and more. I'm not just about words; I'm about action—changing views, one honest conversation at a time. Embracing my unique journey, I lead with resilience and determination.


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