A new challenge I have taken up this year is to travel with my little one. Of course, it isn’t an easy task. But the travel can be made easy and at peace if you have all the necessary items you need for your little one. That includes everything that pacifies her and entertains her throughout the trip.
So last week, one of my friend messaged me and was worried to take her infant on a flight for the very first time. And that made me remember the anxiety and sleeplessness I had when I took my baby out on a road trip for the first time. This blog will include all the hat tips for a new mommy who is yet to embark on a journey with their little bub.
Here are few things we did when we planned our trip to Seattle, Washington. Seattle is about 3 hours from Portland, Oregon. It was the first road trip for Avi ( 4 months old).
- Check the weather conditions and pack accordingly. The first thing that came to my mind was the weather condition. I knew that Portland and Seattle had similar climatic conditions. It was a sunny day when we started our journey but then the next day appeared to be very rainy. So I took her light wear clothes for the first day and a couple of cozy onesies with full sleeves for the second day. So, prepare yourself for any kind of weather. Never neglect the weather. Carry sweaters, hats, socks and wearable blankets for your baby.
- Take enough food for your baby especially if your baby is formula fed or has started baby foods. If your baby is a picky eater, carry some extra food always. I breastfeed my baby and hence, food was never a problem for her. Before the start of the trip, I fed her and that helped her in taking a good nap. We stopped at a rest area to have food and I again fed her and changed her diapers. These stops actually helped Avi stretching and relaxing a bit. It isn’t easy for a baby to sit in the car seat for long hours. Plus it is advised to take pitstops and take your baby out of the car seat after every one – two hours.
- Carry the baby gears like stroller and baby carrier with you. I am sure many flights allow strollers to be carried as a luggage. Also, if you have not invested in a baby carrier, between 2- 6 months is the right time to introduce a carrier to your baby. Avi did not like the carrier at first. But then I used to take her out for walks every day for at least 15 minutes so that she gets used to it. This actually was a big success. She is a carrier lover these days. I can see a big smile on her face when I wear the carrier on me. She associates it with a walk outside.
- Book rooms with kitchen (if you want to prepare any baby food) and separate sleeping areas. Babies may become cranky after a long day of travel. There also could be a change in their sleeping pattern which is normal because they are tiny humans and they can get tired easily. So if the baby sleeps, you will also have to sleep. Hence, it is always good to book the separate room if you are traveling with a bigger family like parents, cousins, and siblings. You definitely do not want to pile up in one place. You can catch up some good movie once the baby is asleep if there is a separate sleeping area.
- Check if the hotel provides a crib; or pack the portable bed or bassinet that your baby is comfortable to sleep on. We checked with the hotel authorities if they provide the crib and luckily they did. Some hotels do charge for providing cribs, so ask before you confirm the booking. We had booked a penthouse on our recent trip. The hotel provided us with a Pack’nPlay. But be cautious always before you place your baby in a crib provided by the hotel. Check the sturdiness.
- Carry the favorite “something” of your baby. By something I meant a rattle or a doll or a book which he/she loves to keep. This would be an entertainment quotient. It will actually help in entertaining your baby during the drive or even be used as a distracting factor.
- Bedding and blankets for the baby. This is highly optional. I did not want Avi to sleep in the hotel bedding. So I took all her bed sheets and blankets that she uses at home. Also, some infants can be sensitive to dust and it can cause allergies and rashes. I even carried her towels.
- Carry your baby’s travel essentials like baby lotion, diaper rash cream, diapers, pacifiers (if your baby is using one) moisturizers and even a set of medicines (fever and cough medicines) just in case. Baby Tylenol/Advil comes to the rescue if your little one is not keeping well. I am sure you may not need it but you will be thankful to have it on your trip. Also, never forget the insurance card of your baby.
- Meltdowns are normal. Be cool always. Okay! now, this tip is something I truly acquired over a period of time. I wasn’t a cool mom before and there are many nerve wrecking moments especially at times which is highly unexpected. This incident happened inside the Space Needle in Seattle. We were happily roaming in the gift shop and all of a sudden, Avi decided to cry out loud. At first, I used to worry about other people around. I get nervous and even leave the place without finishing up the task (I have even left the items in the cart as it is and ran outside the shop). But this time, I did not want to do that. I just rocked her thoroughly, gave her pacifiers (which she kept spitting eventually, Hel-lloo), tried to soothe her, shush her and finally took her out of the gift shop to get some fresh air. And it worked. I know it is easier to say than doing. But never get worked up or tensed, Stay calm. It is your baby and you can calm her like none. I took a deep breathe once Avi calmed down and walked back to the gift shop with a beautiful smile. I knew, if I freaked out, Avi will sense it and cry even more. The reality is that breakdowns are normal. Just face it peacefully.
- Try not to squeeze too many things at one time. Things have changed and accept it. Traveling with a baby is way beyond traveling alone. So do not jam-pack your to-do lists. Travel at a slow pace. The trip time from Portland to Seattle is just 3 hours, but we took about 5 hours to reach the destination. We knew it is impossible to drive all at once with Avi. So we did not want to replicate the way we used to travel before the baby. Do not rush things. Never bring unnecessary stress to the travel. Travel is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.
- Don’t wait for tomorrow.Babies are easier travel companion when they are less than 6 months old. Once they start eating solids, the work on the parents become more. You need to be more prepared. So do not hold off your travel plans until the baby is a year old. The only thing we were worried was about Avi’s vaccinations. We took her out only after she got all her 2 months old vaccines. Also, one thing that comes to my mind is about consulting with your pediatrician about the travel plans. It will be good to consult with your doctor about the destination you will be visiting.
- Try to schedule your travel time around your child’s sleep time. This is helpful in the case of a road trip. You can cover more distance when your baby is asleep. I haven’t done a flight journey with Avi yet and so I wouldn’t be an expert in advising you on how to schedule your flight journey and manage while boarding the flight. But for me, the nap time helped a lot. Avi slept off for about an hour once I fed her when we started the journey. This helped us in concentrating on the road and tried to cover more distance.
Embrace this new change with a smile. I am sure you will love all the craziness and crankiness that will come your way when you travel with your baby for the first time. You will be amazed to see the luggage that you are going to carry on your first trip with your bub. But as time passes you will become a pro-mom. These are some of the tips that came to my mind when I traveled with our little one. I am sure there will be ‘n’ number of tips and tricks that every new mom would have adopted. Eager to see all those in the comment bar below.