Since we just came back from our first International family trip as a family of three I thought I’d share some of the tips we learned from traveling with a baby. I know I did a lot of research before our trip to try and make the traveling to and from part as painless as possible because let’s be honest (and get real) traveling with a baby isn’t the same as traveling as a couple or solo, it’s pretty much getting a change of scenery and building memories. Your baby’s schedule will still dictate what you can and cannot do just like they would at home and just because you want to enjoy beautiful scenery in peace and quiet does not mean that your little one has the same idea. That adventurous activity you once would not blink an eye booking you now how to think if it’s an activity that you can be able to bring a baby on or who will take care of your little one while you go out and enjoy yourself (PS there is nothing wrong with wanting to continue doing what you enjoy). But you’ve got to roll with the punches and make the most of your good time and minimize/manage the melt downs as best as possible!
1. Pick the right time to travel. It’s so important to think about your baby’s sleep schedule when planning your travel. My biggest advice is plan your flight around your baby’s sleep schedule. We left for Canada on a flight that took off at 6am. Sounds crazy, right?! Well it actually worked out perfectly! Yes we may have had to wake up super early to make it to the airport but as soon as our flight took off Mason was sound asleep. Important to note that we kept him up once we got to the airport to check in all the way till right before takeoff.
2. Know when it’s best to feed your baby. Sounds obvious but when you feed your baby can drastically help with your travel. If you’re breastfeeding, plan to nurse your baby right before takeoff and right before landing. This will help keep your baby calm and will help him/her not have ear pain from popping ears during takeoff and landing. If you’re not breastfeeding you can give your baby a bottle or something yummy to chew. On one of the legs of our trip we were feeding Mason his favorite puffs during landing since he was up. He was a happy baby the whole flight and the landing didn’t seem to bother him at all.
3. Leave the stroller at home. You may be thinking, this girl is crazy, but hear me out! When you’re already dealing with all your luggage, having a stroller too can be a bit much. Put your baby in your baby carrier, we have the Ergo 360. Wearing your baby through the airport is so easy and then you don’t have to worry about checking it at the gate or worse, totally forgetting about it once you land and are more worried about trying to find out where to pick up your checked luggage or not forgetting anything you brought on the plane with you. When we arrived in Vancouver the was an area full of strollers that people had forgotten about. It was like a graveyard for strollers and carseats that were forgotten about. I know you’re probably also thinking but what are you supposed to do all trip? Wear your baby? Check tip number 4 for my tips on that.
4. Rent a stroller. Once Justin and I got to our first destination, Whistler, we rented a almost brand new Bob stroller. We found a company called Baby’s On The Go, they delivered the stroller to our hotel and also picked it up there. We rented it for the few days that we were in Whistler and it was fantastic. I highly recommend you going this route. It makes getting around much easier, definitely didn’t want to have to wear him all day, but since we had his carrier, in some situations it was easier to take him in the carrier but were able to go back to the hotel for his stroller when we wanted it.
5. Bring a carseat you don’t mind getting scratched or banged up. You can check your carseat at check-in for free or you can hang onto it and check it at boarding time. We checked our carseat when we checked into our flight just so we didn’t have one more thing to carry around the airport with us. Just know that the airport isn’t going to be gentle with your carseat so plan to bring one you don’t mind getting a little banged up. Since we already got Mason a convertible carseat but still have his infant carseat that works up to 30 lbs we chose to bring the infant carseat on this trip. I didn’t want his new one getting messed up since it’s still so nice and clean.
6. Bring lot’s of snacks! Make sure you have enough snacks for your baby during travel. We definitely went through a good amount of snacks to keep Mason happy during our bus ride up to and back from Whistler. We went through everything we had brought so we ended up buying more snacks while we were there. You can always buy stuff that you need once you are at your destination. We bought his cereal for breakfasts and some snacks once we arrived that lasted the whole trip. So don’t take up too much space in your carry-on with enough for your whole trip but just make sure you have enough to get you there.
7. Get a new toy or two. Just like bringing enough snacks to keep your baby occupied, bringing a new toy or two that your baby hasn’t played with is another great way to keep him/her distracted during travel. The Fairmont in Vancouver was nice enough to give us some toys for Mason on arrival which kept him interested for a while. Next time we travel with Mason I will make sure to bring a new toy or two because he was getting uninterested quickly in his toys he already had while he was awake on the plane and on the bus.
8. Don’t be embarrassed if your baby cries. This one can be a little hard because as parents we can be very self conscious of ourselves and our babies. It’s easy to feel judged by others even if they’re not judging. For the times that Mason did scream and cry at times I was feeling a little judged or embarrassed about it. Then there were friendly people sitting around us who kept reassuring us that everyones been through it (which of course I know that any parent has experienced their baby more than once throwing a fit in public). But it was nice to hear it while traveling that Mason was doing well with the flight and no need to be embarrassed about his crying.
9. Don’t try and cram too much into one day. Some vacations this might be easier than others. If you’re going somewhere on vacation to relax then you’re probably not trying to do too much as it is. But if you’re traveling somewhere where there are a lot of activities you want to do or places to explore just remember you’re baby needs to nap and probably will get overwhelmed if you try to do too much in a day. On this vacation to Canada we had a lot on our itinerary that we wanted to do. Most of it we were able to do but some things we had to put off only because Mason was already too exhausted and was letting us know in the form of crying and screaming. But for the most part, we made sure he got his naps in during the day so that he stuck to his usual schedule as best as possible.
10. Be flexible and roll with the punches. Flexibility is part of parenting, am I right! And so is patience. When traveling you probably have an idea going into it of what you want to do and see but sometimes baby has other plans. Remember this is a family vacation and it’s supposed to be fun and stress-free or as stress-free as humanly possible with a baby. Remember to breathe and go with the flow. If you’ve got to cut something short for baby, it is what it is. The more flexible you are with your schedule and things you want to do the better.
11. Make sure you plan at least one parents night out. For your own sanity (traveling with a baby can be hard) and for your relationship I highly recommend having a night out without the baby. This was the first time that we had ever had someone other than our parents watch Mason. I was a little concerned about how I would feel having a babysitter come to our hotel room to watch Mason so we could go out to a fancy dinner but when the night arrived I was so happy to have that alone time with Justin. We used a service called Babysitting Whistler. Our babysitter was amazing. Mason literally connected with her right away. He got to play with her while he was awake but she got him down at his usual bedtime and then she just hung out till we got back. She was super flexible when we asked for an extra 30 minutes. I’m sure there are very similar services everywhere if your hotel doesn’t have in-house babysitters (which some do). Babysitting Whistler was the preferred service of our hotel and came recommended by not just our hotel concierge but of other hotels in the area. They all seemed to use this service.
12. Book in a little one on one time. Kind of like with the parents night out, it’s nice to have a little alone time on your trip to do what you want to do that your spouse might not share an interest in. Justin had a day to go mountain biking in Whistler, which I had no desire to do, and I got to have a spa day the next day. So we each had a one on one day with Mason which was nice. I know Justin loves the bonding time with Mason and while I’m with Mason everyday it was still a lot of fun to take Mason around exploring Whistler Village while Justin had his day on the mountain. Both days we met up for lunch so it wasn’t a full day alone but it was really nice for the both of us getting to do something we both enjoy doing and doing something we can’t do with Mason.
Are there any other tips for parents traveling with their babies that you think I should add?
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