Cross Country Travel With a Toddler

Traveling with a toddler used to give me anxiety but now I’m much more confident that it’s doable and can be enjoyable! Here is my “fit working mom” experience traveling across the country with one child, a 14 month old toddler and fellow adult.

Let’s start with the flights…

Getting to the airport was fairly easy for us. We called a Lyft, put our car seat in the back seat and arrived safely. On the way to the airport to come home, Tommy I think got car sick watching Elmo on my iPhone and did throw up all over himself.

When we arrived at the airport, the security line for TSA precheck was insanely long. After changing Tommy and realizing that I needed an extra outfit in case it happened again on the plane, we checked our bags and got in line. United let us through to the front with Tommy which was so amazing and unexpected. By the time we got to our gate, it was already time to board so we lucked out with the fast lane.

Neither flight was full to or from San Francisco and we were able to bring our car seat onto the plane and have a seat for Tommy between us. The trick to this is to book a window and an aisle seat. If someone gets put in the middle, they will likely be more than happy to take the window.

With Tommy, I knew there was a zero percent chance of getting any work done on the plane. When I used to travel for work, the flight was when I could be super productive. Nick however was able to work because all Tommy wanted to do was nurse, rip out mommas hair, have mom read a book or just be held (but not sit still of course). It was nice to be able to get up and go to the bathroom and have Nick was Tommy. He did take his own turn taking care of him but Tommy would inevitably want me.

T Sleeping on Plane

Tommy was as good as I could have imagined my active toddler would be on a flight. There was no prolonged crying, he was content most of the ride despite minimal sleep. He took two 45 minute naps out to SF and one 60-90 minute nap on the way home.

I think having the car seat was helpful but not necessary if you have two adults. If you are traveling by yourself with a baby, I think the best bet would be to book a flight that likely will not be full with the hope of being able to bring on a car seat for free or just buy an extra seat if you can afford it for a cross country flight.

Sleep and Jet Lag

I was not nervous about the flight surprisingly. I was nervous Tommy was going to wake up at 3:30 AM for the day, every day. We started pushing back his bedtime the week before we left hoping he would sleep later. This worked to the extent that he could stay up but he would not sleep later really at home.

Tommy Morning

The first day as I already shared, he took a 3 hour morning nap which is unheard of for us. This kind of set us up to be on pacific time. He went to bed around 6:15 pm and was asleep by 6:30/6:45 the rest of the nights.

He did not sleep through the night nor did I expect him to. He would wake up a couple of times and often after the second time, I would just let him stay in the bed with us. This allowed us to stay in bed until at least the sun came up. Things could have been worse.

The combination of Tommy waking up in an unfamiliar crib and us not wanting to let him cry as we were staying with friends made the sleep situation foreign to us. I think we handled it the best we could have.

Naps on Vacation

I have friends and family that are on a strict nap schedule and like to be home for nap time. Nick and I have never been like this for better or worse. The first few days his naps were synced up with east coast time but after two days, he was on Cali time with two naps around 9 and 1:30 pm. Since he is a great stroller napper, Tommy napped in his UPPAbaby GLuxe stroller while we were away.

Tommy Nap SF UppaBaby

This worked out for us and our friends that we were visiting so we could explore the city.

Pre Baby vs With A Baby

Before Tommy, I would workout every day exploring new classes or running routes. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and left on a Wednesday morning but I was able to fit in 2 workouts. On Sunday, I went for a quick 30 minute run and on Monday I took a class at Barry’s Bootcamp in the Marina.

Every time I try Barry’s outside of Boston, I feel like the class is easier. I loved the music in Michelle’s class but it was an Abs and Arms day and all we did was about 2 minutes of abs which was a major bummer since my arms weren’t even sore the next day. That probably was my fault for not grabbing heavier weights but I swear I worked to fatigue!

SF Barry's Bootcamp Review Michelle Marina

I loved Michelle’s music. It was awesome and she was able to change the volume and song walking around the studio, something I couldn’t do when I taught at Barry’s in Boston. This helped during the sprints. I also appreciated her heads up on the runs. For example, we began to increase our speed and incline. She told us it was just a 3 minute push which allowed me to go faster than what I would have started running at.


Before Barry’s we went to Jane for breakfast. This place was amazing but not baby friendly really. It was too crowded. I ordered the avocado toast and chia pudding parfait to go. We brought them to the park where Tommy could run around. Of course he loved the avocado toast. It’s his favorite meal.

Chia Pudding Parfait Jane
Avocado Toast Jane SF

After Barry’s, I insisted we go to Seed + Salt so I could get my most favorite veggie burger ever. I must say, it was not as good as I remembered it being and don’t think I would spend $14 again on it. The first time I had avocado and could the avo have really made it that much better? For the additional $2, it didn’t seem worth it at the time but maybe it was in hindsight. IDK.

Tommy ate some of my burger as well as Nick’s chicken Caesar salad from another restaurant on Chestnut street for lunch. For most of the “work-cation,” Tommy ate what we ordered for ourselves. We bought bars, bread and cheese which were helpful for snacks and meals.

Things I Wish I Did

I wish I had brought Tommy’s sunhat and more weather appropriate clothes for us all. It was super warm and I felt unprepared as a mom. It’s not hot here so I wasn’t in the mindset of summer and that is exactly how it felt there!

I also chose not to bring a ton of diapers and buy them at Target once we got there to save space in our luggage. Nick went while Tommy and I were asleep Sunday morning and got Pamper sleep diapers in a size too big. The size was my fault for saying in a text to get a 5, but it’s funny how Dads often have no idea even though I’ve been buying diapers for 14 months now. We didn’t use all of them and since I’m cheap, we brought the rest home which made my suitcase too big to bring on the plane and defeated the purpose of packing them from home.

Other than that, I don’t really have any regrets. We had a great trip! I’m going on a Carnival cruise with a girlfriend on Sunday and I can’t wait for my first “Mom’s Week Away Vacation”! Then a couple of weeks later, Nick, Tommy and I are all going to London!

This trip was like a test drive to see how well prepared we would be for London and I honestly am so much more excited because I think it’s going to be so much fun and hopefully Tommy is just as good on the flights!

If you’re curious what I was doing in SF, check out my Instagram here. 

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