Travelling with a Baby These Holidays? Take Some Tips from the “Experts”

Jared and I like to think of ourselves as expert parents. Never mind the fact that we only have one child and that he’s only 9 months old. We like to tell ourselves we’re good at this gig. Mostly so we don’t break down wondering what they heck we’re doing wrong every second day but hey… you take what you can get, right?!

So, let the “experts” give you some tips on travelling. I mean, in 9 months, we have travelled with Max numerous times by plane, train, automobile… and boat. If that doesn’t make us experts, tell us what does!

So here they are, our top tips for travelling with a baby this holiday season:

  1. Pack Light. This is my number one piece of advice (hence why its number 1.) Try to be somewhere you can do laundry and do it often rather than trying to pack for everything. Yes, you’ll get sick of your clothes, but it will feel like you have a celebrity’s wardrobe when you get home!
  2. Do what you gotta do. Even if that means your luggage cart is stacked so high you can barely get up to the checkout line, much less the bathroom and you have to change your child’s exploding poopy nappy on the filthy floor of the the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX while a Chinese man laughs at you in Mandarin. Its better than getting more poop all over you and your baby. Trust me.
  3. Forget the toys. Remember your first flight? An in-flight magazine, a flight safety booklet, a BARF bag?? These are the most fascinating things to someone who has never seen them before! Especially when that someone is little and fascinatable! Use what is around you and pack light on everything, including toys!
  4. Bring snacks and don’t worry about making a mess. I know, I know. Its a rule to never feed kids out of boredom. But there is an exception to this rule and that’s when you’re travelling! Healthy snacks are the best distraction. And packing your own is way better than paying $6 for a small water and banana in an airport (sometimes, we get desperate). And don’t worry about apologising for the cheerios that are all over the floor. The flight attendants will just tell you its someone else’s job to clean them. (Okay, they might do that but its still nice to pick the cheerios up as much as possible. Unless you can’t and then just pretend that you’re at a baseball game and everybody’s doing it, then walk away swiftly.)
  5. Accept Help. When someone offers to hold your baby while you go to the bathroom, take them up on it. Its going to be really hard for them to do anything naughty with your baby since there are 300 other people watching them and no where to escape. And besides that? It sure beats setting your baby down on the floor of a aircraft “loo.” (Although, if you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry about it – just remember you’re doing what you gotta do.)
  6. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carryon for every traveller. There will be spit up. There will be pee. Pumpkin puree WILL go flying. Plan for it and bring an extra set of warm but lightweight clothes for everyone. And a set of shout wipes.
  7. Routine SHMOOTINE! Plan to be extra tired, plan for your kid to eat and sleep at different times. Just do what you can when you can. You will all settle in a lot quicker than you expected. Sleep as often as possible and work to get back into a rhythm slowly. A nursing cover (whether you’re breast feeding or not) and baby carrier can help block out stimulation if you’re in a busy place like an airplane or public place.
  8. Request the bulk head seats on an airplane. Even if your kid is too big or too curious for the bassinet (ummm… I think he’s about to jump out of there), it still provides extra crawl space for baby and leg space for husband. You will be everyone’s favourite wife and mommy.
  9. Compartmentalise. Jared thinks I’m ridiculous to pack bags in bags, but hello? I don’t want to be digging around for the change mat, the nappy AND the wipes when the Chinese man is laughing at me in Mandarin. I had it all handy dandy ready to whip out in one swift movement (Jackie Chan, eat your heart out!) Pack your snacks close together so when the cheerios have redesigned the aircraft carpet and upholstery, the rice cakes are ready to work their magic. And keep all your travel documents in one case too. That way you won’t wake that baby (who is FINALLY sleeping in that baby carrier) while you dig for a pen, an itinerary, and the passports, while trying to figure out where the heck you put that silly customs card.
  10. Choose to have fun! It will be inconvenient. It will be challenging. You might be carrying a baby with a blow out poo and walking a luggage cart taller than yourself through the rain and ask for help and the guy (whose job it is to help) will tell you that you with a mocking tone like like you can handle it and glare at you like a crazy person as you walk by. But who cares?! This is the making of family memories! Embrace every moment and instead of crying or getting overwhelmed, find the humour and laugh. Right then. Right there. Yes, people will think you’re even crazier than you already were as you stand in the rain laughing with yellow goop leaking out the side of your baby, but its a lot better than crying. Make it a moment you and your kids will remember with joy forever. That’s what its all about, right?

So, happy travelling! And when you get home, be sure to post lots of pictures so we can ooh and aah at how cute your baby is and post an update on your blog or Facebook so we can laugh with you at all your mishaps!

Oh, and if you want some REAL travel tips, ask my friend Tiffany. She has some awesome products that are very cool or my friend Adriel who is pretty much a pro by now too! 🙂

Thickening My Skin

Let’s face it. I’m not the first to do this and I certainly won’t be the last.

But for me? This is an adventure. An unknown. Something that could go really really good… or really really… ummm… adventurous.

Tomorrow I board a plane… (done that before)

with my baby… (done that too)

without my husband… (yes, done that as well)

for a 13 hour flight… (no, haven’t done this combo before!)

If Max was one of those sleepy babies, I’d be smokin’… but he’s not. He’s one of those life of the party kinda kids… and there is every chance in the world he will want to party for the entire 13 hours surrounded by all kinds of weird and wonderful people!

But I’m doing it.

And I’m doing it for something a lot greater than me.

We’re heading to the Global Forum on Human Trafficking. We’re only in the country for three days. That means that we’ll be travelling almost as much as we’ll be staying put.

But you know what? Our exhaustion will no where near compare to the people we will be learning about.

The ones who get taken from their mommys and daddys and put on big planes and into dark rooms with selfish men who have their way with them…

The ones we just might get to help save.

Our time… our sleep… yes, even our sanity… is well worth the lives of these precious ones.

In the words of my doctor, I’m bracing myself for the humiliation of a crying baby on a big plane and thickening my skin so I’m not bothered by the glaring looks just in case he decides  to keep them awake… and getting ready to go hard core for three days… (thanks to Julia and Amy for watching their little nephew!)…

Because I – no WE – are getting ready ready to save some lives…

And we are going to laugh and enjoy every minute of it!

Have Baby... Will Travel

My American Boy.

Last week, Max & I headed to Brisbane to make him an American.  What a trip we had. If I had been doubting my faith in humanity, it would’ve been 100% restored after our trip. People were so, so kind.

I realise now that Max may never again sleep on an airplane unless he is totally sedated. Mr Social just can’t help himself. See people; will play. Fortunately, the flight attendants and fellow passengers were just as eager to play peekaboo with him as he was with them. He was in top form and we all had a good laugh… even though it was hours past bedtime.

We had breakfast for two on our very tall balcony.

I had the most amazing view:

Max got his fill of his favourite past time – people watching – as we sat on the streets of the great, big city. He delighted in giving little waves, big smiles and “hiiiiiiiiiiis” to the people passing by and my heart melted as grown men in expensive suits could not walk by without stopping – yes, stopping – to smile back, say hello, and stroke his cheek.

It was rush hour. They were busy and important. But he was irresistable.

And I think he did just as much for their hearts as they did for mine.

The lady driving a bus thought so too. Stopped at a light, she opened her door just to play peekaboo with the happy little boy sitting on the brick wall next to his mama.

Be still my beating heart…

We had challenges. Like the minor mommy meltdown that occurred when we landed and I found out that the train had left (there were no more coming), the only rental car with a car seat would cost $120 for 24 hours, and a taxi with a car seat would cost $80 (one way)… and include a two hour wait. Umm, hello. Its 10p and bedtime was more than 3 hours ago. There were tears. And there was a very nice man who helped… we made it and we didn’t have to hitchhike.

We had victories. Like becoming an American.

We ran into friends… and friends of friends… and people we worked with long ago. (We felt famous.)

We made sweet memories… like playing ball on the floor of the PNG Consulate (yes, we decided to run some work errands while we were at it).

And we relished the moments… like walking down the street and watching a bride being walked down the aisle by her daddy…

And sweet sleeps on mommy’s chest…

And blow out poos in the middle of the city without a bathroom in sight.

We laughed hard. So hard the camera phone kept getting blurry. And we stayed awake the entire plane ride back. Laughing some more.

Oh how I love my American boy.

We’ll Be Home For Christmas…

We're a-comin'!

That’s right, folks! Tickets are BOOKED and we are excited. It has been 5 years since Jared & I have been home for the holidays and we are very much looking forward to celebrating both Thanksgiving AND Christmas with friends and family in AMERICA… AND introducing Max to our wonderful loved ones. (You will love him more than you do already; he’s quite the spunky one!)

Those of you who know us well will know that the past few years, Jared & I have been home for a limited time – 2 to 3 weeks, which is not much considering all of the travel. This year will be a bit longer and we’re  hoping that in addition to getting to see friends and family, we will have the opportunity to rest, relax and refresh. Its been a while since we’ve had a chunk of time off and we are looking forward to some re-cooperation as we look to a wonderful future with YWAM.

Another significant thing will be introducing Max to all his great-grandparents, great-aunties, and second cousins in addition to all of our immediate family.

Our schedule is as follows:

  • LA – (Nov 19-22) Visit Rebekah’s extended family
  • Wisconsin – (Nov 22-Dec 10) Visit Jared’s family and many friends
  • Indiana – (Dec 10-Dec 13) Visit Jared’s extended family
  • Spokane – (DVisit Rebekah’s family

And… just a little thing… would you join with us in praying for some snow? Enough to make snow angels and snow men and have a snowball fight would be awesome. We really want to make some awesome memories with our little man and show him what life is like where Mommy and Daddy grew up.

See you in a couple of months!

The Hoovs

We'll crawl all the way if we have to! 🙂