Family Vacation and Tips on Travelling with a Baby
We had the BEST time in Florida last week. It was our second time flying with L (last time at 5 months, this time at 7 months) and luckily he did well again. This trip was so wonderful for a lot of reasons. We started off with a few days on the West Coast with my family. My parents had rented a house for the 6 1/2 of us to stay in. That part of the trip was pretty easy to manage in terms of taking care of a baby. Plus, there were quite a few other people around who wanted to play with the little monkey. The second half of the week we stayed at a hotel with Matt’s parents on the East Coast. It was also so fun and nice to be somewhere with someone else to clean up after you, but there are obviously a few other challenges when you stay with a baby in a hotel.
Before our first family flight, I had done some searching online and found a few blogs that gave great tips on packing and preparing for a plane ride with a baby (some helpful posts are pinned here). A few of you have asked for advice on this as well, so I figured I’d give some general travel tips that I found really helpful.
1) Before you do anything, make lists. I started making lists of what to pack for L weeks before we went away. I actually did this on my phone so that any time something popped into my head I’d add it. This was broken down into items I needed for the plane, items to pack generally and then a few things to ship or buy when we arrived (more details below).
2) Plan to ship or buy. This goes for you or for the baby. No matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise, there is a LOT to pack for travelling with a baby. Beyond the basic needs like a week’s worth of diapers and wipes there’s the stroller, car seat (we learned the hard way on our first trip that not all car seat’s are created equal, L HATED the rental car seat), so many outfits, bottles, potentially pumping supplies and on and on and on. For this trip, Matt shipped his golf clubs with a few toys tucked inside as well. I actually had planned to place a Diapers.com order but it didn’t work out so we just stocked up on diapers at the grocery store the first day.
3) Pack extra. Especially in your carry-on. Diaper blowouts don’t happen often anymore, but on the return flight from our first trip, there were two on the plane. And did I mention that I was travelling alone with L for that leg of the trip? Don’t worry, by the second time around I felt like a pro in the airplane bathroom. Never mind the fact that we landed in a snowstorm and the two of us were drastically underdressed to be waiting outside for a bus to our car. But I digress….
4) Prepare for challenges and limitations in a hotel. Call your hotel ahead of time to make sure you can get a fridge in your room or have the mini bar emptied out for use. If you have bottles or pump equipment to clean, consider splurging on the sanitizing wipes or make the bathroom sink work for you. Push the limits on laundry. We do so much laundry for L at home, but away he was re-wearing PJs and other items if they weren’t a mess. I also washed things like bathing suits out in the shower. Also call ahead about a crib solution. In the house, we were able to rent a crib (I was really happy with Happy Baby) and the hotel provided one (although it wasn’t full size so check to see what you are getting). We also brought our own clean sheet for the mattress.
5) Add extra time for the airport. Seriously. First of all, you never know how long security will take etc. Second, there are all sorts of variables with a baby. Will they need to eat? Will it be one of those feedings where it somehow takes forever? Will there be a surprising but necessary diaper change? Will you need to buy food for yourself? Of course, you don’t have time or space to pack your own meals;-) Regardless of whether you need that time or not, it is SO much less stressful this way. We planned way more time than we really needed and didn’t have to rush at all. I’d rather have a few minutes sitting in the airport restlessly than sweat dripping down my back as I run for the gate with a baby and alllll of the stuff.
Everyone always asks… L’s hat is iPlay, it’s the best!
6) Curbside check-in. Like I said, you have a lot of stuff. Even after shipping golf clubs, I had a backpack and the diaper bag. Matt had a big carry-on bag. We had the stroller and car seat. Oh yeah, and there were two checked suitcases. Watching us carry all of this was quite the comedy routine. Take my word for it, a few dollars for curbside check-in is worth it. Just note that you have to get out of the car with the baby if you are checking your car seat.
7) Wear the baby through security. More free hands, just do it.
8) Bring a selection of small toys or snacks for entertainment on the plane. I had a large ziplock bag in my diaper bag (easier to access that way) with 4-5 small toys (obviously including Sophie). L is young enough that we didn’t have to worry he’d get too bored on the flight with that selection. I also packed “puffs”, carrot pouches and extra breast milk just in case.
9) Take advantage of the seatbelt sign being turned off. First of all, if your baby is tired, it’s so much easier to get them to sleep while moving and walking around. Second of all, it’s a great way to provide a new form of entertainment. Babies love to look around and see new things and people. Plus, you will make some strangers’ days with cute baby smiles up and down the aisle.
10) Don’t worry about germs. Or just relax about them. The baby needs to be able to play and you need to be able to enjoy your vacation. Let the germ fear go for the time away at least!
11) Get creative. We didn’t have a high chair (I kind of dropped the ball on a high chair travel solution) except for when we went out to eat. Since L makes the most massive mess of all time when he eats, we had to think a little bit outside of the box. Feeding him sans clothes on a towel ended up being our go-to.
This goes for things like naps and bedtimes as well. In order to maximize the time where we could enjoy ourselves, we had L sleeping in the stroller for quite a few naps and even some evenings. You’d be surprised what a baby can sleep through! Live music at a restaurant? Not a problem! He would have been pretty miserable if we skipped the sleep time and we wouldn’t have been happy skipping evenings with our families so this was a good compromise for us.
12) Have fun. It’s vacation, enjoy it! Things certainly are different with a baby and not exactly easier, but I swear everything is ten times more fun.
Best sister ever
L’s Great Great Uncle! Hi, Arnie;-)
A little beach time with Matt
L’s first time on the beach
So much love
L loves his Poppy!
Matt’s family and L’s Great-grandma
L’s (third?) cousin came to see him
My best friends from Emory’ met us for breakfast, the BEST
Future husband and wife
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