I converted a travel-size baby powder container into a miniature bottle for Comet. Chip uses it to scrub each hotel tub before Bean's bath. He is meticulous in his movements, reaching into the corners and crevices.
Between us, we amass seven pieces of luggage, not counting my handbag. Every bag is unloaded from the car at every stop. A bag for clothing. One for toys. One for extra blankets and diapers, my exercise gear. There is one bag for Chip's work. One for food and snacks. It's a specific system I have designed: bag designation --- packing for ease of travel but not for transport.
I have the same routine at each hotel. Upon arrival, as Chip is unloading our portable arsenal of living from a bell cart, I am setting up a temporary house arrangement. Finding a place for Bean's crib, making her bed, setting up the monitor, plugging in the white noise that will be used later, placing things needed for bath time in a specific order, in a specific way.
Experience has taught me the following: check that the air conditioning and heater are in working order before anything has been unpacked; bring your own fitted crib sheet from home; always pack a few extra kid-friendly plastic cups and plates; keep things tidy so you don't go stir crazy in a small space.
There are rules of thumb stored deeply in my brain. If we're staying in one place for more than a single night, I try to get Bean outside the hotel on the second day: walk to a local park or mall, run around the outside of the hotel, whatever it takes to get sun on our faces and breathe unfiltered air. At breakfast I squirrel away a few things that I can feed Bean at lunch. A spare box of Raisin Bran cereal. A banana. A bagel or piece of bread.
People tell me I'm crazy to travel like this with a toddler - the long distances, the dusty stretches of time spent in a car, the constant movement, missing the creature comforts of home, sleeping in so many strange beds on so many pillows not my own. But the thing is, all the trouble melts away when I spy Bean having moments like this one:
And suddenly I've never felt so light, never felt so excited to be in one place. Watching her enjoy her cousins. Delight in chasing ducks on the gorgeous greenbelt along the river in Idaho Falls. And ultimately, the biggest reason we do it: spending time with Chip - the fixture we so rarely see during the weekdays. Time with a beloved daddy: in Pendleton, La Grande, Shoshone, Idaho Falls, Boise, Logan, Sandy---- no matter where we are, we're home.