Hillsound brand ambassador, Brooke Froelich, shares her experience of traveling to Alaska for a ski tour with one-year-old son, Huck, along for the ride.
When my boyfriend, Patton, gave me a ticket to Alaska for Christmas, I was ecstatic! I have always dreamed of visiting and skiing Alaska. I also noticed the back of my throat tightening from stress. The thought of traveling long distance with my 1-year-old son, Huck, was something I have had actual nightmares about. But if there is one thing I have learned this past year, it’s that adventure doesn’t end once you become a mother— it increases.
A few weeks before our trip, Patton and I spent time researching, planning, and preparing to travel with Huck. We read articles, talked to friends and family members that have traveled with children, and tried to set realistic expectations for ourselves. Traveling with children takes more preparation and thought- but it pays off in a huge way.
Flying with a Toddler
A week before our flight with Huck, the anxiety of a long flight hit me. This could really suck. Huck has been on a few short flights, but never anything longer than two hours. I spent days reading blog posts about flying with kids. I kept hearing that it would be doable, but I felt doubtful. I kept reading that effective packing was a huge factor in successful air travel. As Patton and I loaded the car, I realized how many essential, LARGE, BULKY, and HEAVY items we were bringing (touring skis, touring ski boots, alpine ski boots, poles, backcountry ski touring safety gear/pack, baby hiking backpack, hiking gear, winter outerwear, car seat, baby items and clothing, clothing for different activities, clothing for evening events, cameras, computers, etc. etc. etc. ETC!). Full disclosure, Patton carried the bulk of our items. Having a supportive partner makes a WORLD of difference when traveling with a toddler.
We decided to forego a stroller, and instead carry Huck around the airport in his hiking backpack, which we could gate check. My carry on bag was an arsenal of baby distractions/ snacks and, of course, Huck’s blankie. At home Huck doesn’t play with the iPad, but for our trip I downloaded interactive books, games, and several episodes of sesame street- I pulled out all the big guns. And didn’t feel an ounce of guilt about it. The SMARTEST move we made, was letting Huck toddle around the gate before our flight, charming the pants off of all of the other passengers. He had about a dozen friends before our flight even left. During the flight, other passengers were pulling silly faces at him, playing peek-a-boo with him, giving him treats and high fives, and made Huck feel right at home. By some miracle, Huck fell asleep on both flights.
Most of the activities that Patton and I planned in Alaska were things we could do with Huck. There is NOTHING more rewarding than adventuring with your children. That being said, we were travelling to Alaska- the home of the mountains you DREAM of skiing and exploring. A few days of childcare were going to be necessary. We began searching for good child care options by calling the concierge at the Resort Alyeska (where we were staying). We also asked friends/ colleagues for trusted child care options. Luckily, there are some amazing people that have moved to Alaska to ski who are happy to support their ski addictions by doing some child care work. Huck had a BLAST spending the day with Gabby at Alyeska! Gabby sent us photos throughout the day of Huck playing, napping, and exploring. The next day when Gabby came, Huck was excited to see her! To me, that is one of the best indications.
Safety while exploring new terrain
I NEVER want to get in over my head when I have Huck along with me on an adventure. At home, this is relatively easy to control. However, Alaska is a VAST WILDERNESS of terrain that I can’t wait to explore. So many different mountain ranges, rivers, coastal areas, and wild spaces! Before we left, we spent a lot of time researching areas we wanted to visit, weather systems, and avalanche conditions.
I started by searching Pinterest and different blogs to get an idea of places that would be interesting and safe with Huck. I found new accounts on Instagram with inspiring photos from Alaska, and asked for beta about the trails, wildlife, and locals. Brooke Edwards is somebody I have followed and admired for a long time on Instagram. She helped me IMMENSELY with my trip planning (mountain ranges, sightseeing, and FOOD), gave me contact info for several of her friends, and even let me borrow her skis. Brooke introduced me to her friend, Leighan Falley, a climber, pilot, artist, and MOTHER. Leighan drew me a map of her favorite trails to take her daughter on, and helped me look at weather patterns to make sure we were optimizing our trip. Meeting locals made our trip so much more meaningful and fun!
When we landed back in Salt Lake City all three of us were EXHAUSTED. Travelling with little ones is a lot more work than I expected— and I expected that it would be a lot of work. Next time you see some especially frazzled parents rushing through the airport, towing bulky gear, snacks, and a few kids, give them a kind smile. Their epic adventure is epic in a whole different way.
You can follow along with Brooke’s adventures on Instagram: @brooke.froelich
Huck also has his own Instagram: @huckgaynes