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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!