Traveling with a toddler is much like playing tag. You know, a version of the games that delighted us on the playground where you had to make it back to “base” before you were out or had to begin the dreaded task of rounding up the rest of your wildling friends. Toddlers, as I am just learning, are an unpredictable foe. They zig when you think they will assuredly zag. So you have to get on base or you are screwed. You have to get seated and ordered at that restaurant before the HUNGRIES hit or bless your heart you will rue the day you left the goldfish in the car and didn’t order for your darling dear the moment the waiter came by for drinks. That early order and delighted smile at the hot, delicious pizza coming right up is your base. Phew you made it. Other bases include the activity base, the safe area to explore not in the stroller base and of course the most heavenly of bases the nap base or the sleep through the night in a hotel room pack and play base. But finding bases is hard while you are traveling and you could think that you have a base perfectly established only to be outfoxed and get tagged before you hit the roadside Denny’s that was only supposed to be 15 minutes away.
For example, have you heard of Bonnaroo? Click to check it out. It’s pretty serious. This years line up included the likes of Billy Joel, Robert Plant, Florence and the Machine and Kendrick Lamar. I know so many decades, so many genres, so much awesome. But this year? This year Bonnaroo totally screwed up my game of toddler tag. We were happily cruising through middle Tennessee when traffic began to pick up. No worries I thought, I will pull over its a perfect time for lunch. I located one of my favorite roadside bases, Cracker Barrel and steered us in. Oh those happy Bonnaroovian’s knew all about the Cracker Barrel and its delicious hangover fighting breakfasts. So I pulled out of the crowded parking lot only to find that people who have been to an overnight party fest are drawn to the same food as a toddler- chicken fingers, pancakes, eggs, pizza joints, all filled by hungry, hungry hippies.
I didn’t make it to a base that day friends. Nope, a half hour later much further down the road with eardrums punctured and goldfish raining down on me I made it. And then things were good, but I paid the price. My learning from this is you have to know your bases. The way to win at Toddler Tag is to have those bases lined up and make them infallible. You run straight to that base, hold on tight and keep your fingers crossed. And most of the time, you win, have a happy child and a happy trip. Here are links to some of my most favorite bases in our travel so far.
And a huge thanks goes out to the State of Illinois that has outfitted most of its rest areas on I-55 with playgrounds. What?! Amazing.