Travel Tuesday – 5 Tips for Traveling with Babies

Today is December 20th- and now that we’re in the “20′s” of December, that means that holiday travel is kicking into high-gear.

Traveling during the holidays is stressful for ANYONE– think of the lines, the cranky passengers, the potential weather delays making for even CRANKIER passengers.  Add baby (or babies) to that mix, and you’ve got a recipe for chaos–or at the very least, a very tricky parenting challenge.

As a travel-pro (and I make this claim only because I’ve flown almost 40,000 miles with my little girl, starting at 5 months of age -her first flight photo is above), I think I’m in a decent position to give some advice on how to get through those long airport and airplane hours. I’d love to hear tips from others as well- while I’m pretty good at traveling with one, I seriously suspect that traveling with multiple will be an entirely different story!

Tip 1- Book that extra seat.

Babies up to the age of 2 are allowed to fly on their parent’s lap on most airlines, but if at all possible think about booking a seat for your baby.  Not because the baby will actually sit in the seat, because in my experience, your kiddo will almost always end up on your lap, but to at least create what I call a “buffer zone” between you and another passenger.  If you’re traveling with another adult, the extra seat might not be necessary, but if you’re alone, a single-seat-sized space probably isn’t enough room for you, your baby, and your gear. Though– I’ve done it, with some luck and some cooperation of friendly row-mates, of course.

Tip 2- Pack light, but pack smart.

In the early days of traveling with my little one, I packed EVERYTHING I thought she could possibly need- including clothes for every single day we’d be away. But if you’re going somewhere that you’ll have access to a washer/dryer- don’t feel obligated to pack the whole dresser. Bring the essentials for about half the days that you’ll be at your destination and just plan on doing a load of laundry while there (and in my experience, if you’re visiting family, you’re going to get gifts of cute outfits upon arrival anyway!)

The on-the-plane necessities actually add up to quite a bit on their own anyway. In my experience, the following are must-haves:

  • a diaper wallet (lugging a giant diaper bag down that narrow airplane aisle and maneuvering it in those tiny bathrooms is just too difficult)
  • lots of liquids (one less thing to carry if you’re nursing)
  • snacks if the baby is on solid food
  • a changing pad
  • diapers
  • wipes
  • a change of clothes (for your baby, and a back-up shirt for you)
  • hand sanitizer
  • a nursing pillow (totally worth the space it takes up in the seat, because once you’re done nursing, baby can snooze on it and your arms get a rest)
  • a nursing cover
  • baby’s favorite book
  • a blankie (it gets cold on planes!)
  • an umbrella stroller if baby is big enough (this will get you all the way to the plane, and then you’re on your own) and, if all else fails-
  • your smartphone

Tip 3 – Nurse your baby on the way up and the way down to prevent the “ear pops”. Changes in altitude have been known to affect even adult ears, so there’s potential that those “pops” can make baby very uncomfortable.  If you nurse, or give your baby a bottle on the way up and down, the swallowing motion eases the pressure build-up and can make the altitude change less painful (for both  of you).

Tip 4Accept Help When it’s Offered. 75% of the travel that I did with my little one was travel alone. My vacation schedule was different than my husband’s, so I often flew back east on my own to see family while he stayed home and worked. This certainly complicated matters– and for those first couple trips, I tried to do it all by myself. Its not easy once you have to turn over that stroller at gate-check and you’re left with all your bags (purse, diaper bag, carry on) AND little one in your arms. Other passengers had offered to help and at first, my reply was always “oh thanks, I have it though”- after a couple trips, I was more than happy to let a nice co-passenger help me get our bags to where they needed to go, and when other passengers didn’t offer, the flight attendants were always happy to help (though, they often wanted to hold the baby, as opposed to the bags, but help is help!) Take the help when its offered and seek it out even if its not offered– it’s definitely worth it!

Tip 5- When all else fails, it really is ok (at least in my book!) to take the “easy way out”. Yes, I’m going to admit to you here that when I traveled with my toddler, when she was done coloring, when we’d read her books twenty times each, when she was bored and near melt-down, I pulled out my smartphone. Yes, I let her watch a movie. Sometimes, we let her play with baby flash cards on the phone. We had always said we’d stick to the American Academy of Pediatrics advice about no screen time before 2- but on the plane, while surrounded by strangers who just wanted some peace and quiet, and no possibility of escape, and with a solution at my fingertips, I took the easy road. And it worked.

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

Traveling Tuesday – Camping with Kids!

My husband and I packed up our girls last Friday and headed to the mountains for a Father’s Day weekend camping trip. There were originally going to be three other families along with us but they decided that threatening thunderstorms and a low of 40 degrees at night was reason to stay home cozy in their beds! My husband, however, is from Colorado. He scoffed at 40 degree weather being cold and said that our family was packing up and heading out! I have to say I was a bit reluctant… I am a California girl born and raised – Northern, so I can take a bit of dampness, but definitely not cold and definitely not with a three year old and a 9 month old!

One of the best things about having a Dodge Sprinter (one of those huge cargo vans which my husband has for work) is that you can fit EVERYTHING into it plus the kitchen sink — and trust me we did! Besides all the extra clothes and wipes that you all suggested (thank you very much!), we also brought our full sized barbeque, bike, futon mattress, scooter  plus all the camping gear that is needed.

There was four items that I brought thinking that they might be over the top but I am SO glad that I did. First, the toddler potty for the middle of the night bathroom needs. I put in right next to her makeshift bed and she was able to get up and go – best thing ever! The second essential was the baby tent. We were able to put the baby in it while we were setting up camp, making dinner, etc and she was happy to play in here and I didn’t have to worry about her eating dirt/twigs/etc…  I am just not that relaxed of a mom. Finally, and we probably could have done without this, is the booster seat. We were able to plop the baby in it and get her fed while working on our dinner – awesome! Another item that was totally not necessary but very fun for the three year old? Her Adirondack chair with umbrella that I recently got for her.  The umbrella provided hours of entertainment!

I am sure that you can do this kind of trip without half the stuff we brought, but it sure was nice to have some of the comforts of home in the woods!

Happy summer traveling!

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

Traveling Tuesday: Early Inheritance

We are “traveling” back in time today…!

Now that I carry my SLR around me most everywhere I go, my shoulder bags and totes just aren’t cutting it any more. It’s literally a pain in the neck to keep it from sliding off my shoulder while trying to capture THE shot that requires the use of both hands. Thus, I decided a crossbody bag would better serve my purposes of shlepping my possessions around with me — a tan leather crossbody bag to be precise. While I really like this bag, tan leather will better round out my modest handbag collection and I like that it’s a timeless look that spans seasons as well as decades. Proof? I was admiring these at the Coach website

when I recalled that my mom carried something similar around at one time. I rang her up and hey, not only did she have a tan leather bag, she had THE ORIGINAL Original Rambler’s Legacy bag by Coach! In tan! See it up there in the top row? The best part was that she was thrilled to give it to me because it’d been neglected in the back of her closet for the past 20 years. It’d been a gift from my grandma to my mom 40-something years ago and now my mom was handing it down to me. :D


**Okay, I lied. The best part wasn’t that she was thrilled to pass it along to me and it was mine (for free!) just a week later. The best part is when it arrived… You know how they say scent is a powerful way to trigger memories? After being tucked away in her closet for years, the bag smells just how I remember my mom smelling from my childhood in a really lovely way. It particularly reminds me of all her hugs because I’d literally be enveloped in that scent, in her arms, feeling safe and loved. And that makes me happy to carry this bag around with me wherever I go now :)

{The author and her mother circa 1986.}

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

Traveling Tuesday – Top List of Family Vacation Spots for 2011

Sometimes I think that I might have more fun planning our family vacations than I do when we are actually on them! I don’t really mean that but I do have a (very Type A) personality that loves all the coordination and planning that is involved in taking a family trip. Now, if you ask my husband he will probably tell you a different story.

I was doing some research for family trips suggestions and here is a list of places to visit this year (lists courtesy of Travel Channel & Yahoo travel):

Domestic

1.       Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort – Snowbird, Utah
2.       Tanque Verde Ranch – Tucson, Arizona
3.       Hilton Waikoloa Village – Waikoloa, Hawaii
4.       Kingsmill Resort – Williamsburg, Virginia
5.       Beach & Boardwalk – Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
6.       Out ‘n’ About Treesort – Takilma, Oregon
7.       La Costa Resort and Spa – Carlsbad, California
8.       Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Orlando, Florida
9.       Flight Simulator – Anaheim, California
10.   Bigfoot Zip line – Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

International: Just in case you are feeling a bit more adventurous!

1.       Paradise Island, Bahamas – Atlantis Resort and Casino
2.       Ixtapa, Mexico  – Club Med Ixtapa

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

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