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This past President’s Day Weekend, Andrew and I took our first trip with our 3 month old to San Luis Obispo, California. I’m proud to report that it went so much better than anticipated. Little Amelia did so well! Being that this was our first time away from home with our baby, we had no idea what to expect. We packed waaay too much (we’re talking 16 burp rags, and I only used 7). So, now that I consider ourselves seasoned professionals traveling with a baby (I kid, I kid), let’s talk about what to consider when traveling with a baby.
1. You will overpack, and that’s okay! So you might not bring 16 burp rags, but you’ll find yourself thinking you may need extra swaddles or blankets (or burp rags). “What if the baby has a massive blowout or spits up her entire dinner?” Pack the extras! You’re not going to want to do laundry while you’re on vacation, so bring the extras. It might take up more space in the suitcase, but you’ll be glad you have them.
2. Lower your sleep expectations. You are not going to be able to keep your baby on the schedule you have them on at home. I repeat. You are not going to be able to keep your baby on a schedule if you want to explore at all. In this case, I highly suggest outdoor walking activities during nap times whether that’s in the stroller or in a carrier. If that doesn’t work, don’t stress! You are on vacation and should absolutely not be tied to the hotel room making sure your baby naps, which brings me to my next point…
3. Bring a sound machine! You never notice how loud doors slam in hotels until you are praying that God keeps your baby asleep. I brought my Hatch machine for nighttime, but I would consider just buying the portable Rohm (takes up less room in the suitcase). You can latch it right onto your car seat/stroller for on the go daytime naps and then to lay by your little one at night.
4. Factor in time for feedings, burping and diaper changes. On a long car ride with an infant, you’re going to have to stop several times. If you tell your in-laws you’ll be there at 7 PM, think again, and tell them 8:30 PM. If you are going from one attraction to another, factor in how long it will take you to feed, burp and wrestle your baby back in the car seat before you develop concrete plans. The one thing that traveling with a baby has taught us is to relax! Your baby is not a clock and is going to do things when they want to. As much as you may want her to nurse right before you go on a hike, it might just not happen. Make feedings and diaper changes on the go your friend. And if you’re nervous about nursing in public, bring a cover!
5. Babies are more flexible than you think. Never did I think that our babe would be so good on a long 7 hour car ride. In fact, I had quite a bit of anxiety about this leading up to our trip. Amelia was able to take naps in the car or stroller when she wanted (albeit not long ones, see #2). She was also much better at restaurants that I could have ever imagined. (Tip: If you’re nervous about taking a baby to a restaurant, find a loud one. That way, most people won’t even hear her if she starts to fuss.) If you don’t expose your baby to new situations now, when will you?
6. Call your hotel, and ask for a portable crib and refrigerator! Most hotels will provide a pack ‘n play for your little one. Also, if you are pumping, you will need somewhere cold to store your milk (and an ice bucket often does not cut it). The hotel should be able to provide a small refrigerator for you. Just mention that you’re breastfeeding, and it should be no problem!
7. Lastly, expect the unexpected. On the last night of our trip, Andrew and I found ourselves eating clam chowder in our hotel bathroom while Amelia slept outside our door. It was definitely a memory we will never forget! And if your baby has an explosive diaper and it gets all over the rental car, laugh about it. Stressing over it won’t make your vacation any better.
At the end of the day, don’t let traveling with infants hold you back from your plans! Yes, maybe stay away from dangerous things like skydiving or bungee jumping, but please do (almost) everything you would if she weren’t with you. Sure, you might have to modify your plans, and yes, maybe you won’t get to everything you wanted because she’s having a rough day. But trust me, the moments you have with your baby on vacation will stick with you forever.
Have you traveled with an infant before? What are some things that surprised you about traveling with a baby?