Monday, April 30, 2012

Travel with a Baby Like a Pro

Today's guest post comes from a college classmate of mine, Aliya. She is a traveling pro, and her gorgeous baby boy Kyran is on the fast track to becoming a pro himself! She's currently anticipating the arrival of her sure-to-be-beautiful baby girl and today, she's sharing tips for traveling with kiddos.

Hello, Newly Domesticated readers! I'm Aliya and I blog over at Double The Fun where you can read all about my daily mishaps, trials and tribulations of both raising a baby and baking a baby at the same time. I was flattered when Amber asked me to write up a guest post about traveling with a baby since I am the first to admit I am no expert anything... however, I do have a list of tips and tricks that work for us that I'm happy to share with all of you! 

Seeing as how my son isn't even one year old yet, I must say he is quite the avid traveler. In his short little life, we have been on two plane rides and several long car trips to exotic and interesting destinations like... Minneapolis. And Pittsburgh. Ok, I kid, but the boy has touched both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, so that's one thing off the Bucket List, right?

With that said, traveling with a baby isn't as daunting as it might seem. The two main things to remember are 1. Be Prepared (for 
anything) and 2. Be Flexible

1. Be Prepared
My family traveled a lot growing up and it would always drive me bananas when my mom had 3 carry-on bags and a purse and an extra bag with another set of clothes. I would always cram everything I could into one bag so I had as little to schlepp around the airport/terminals/plane as possible. Now, even with a kid, I'm the same way... I refuse to carry more than one bag (especially since you'll need as many arms free as possible). So I'd recommend having a diaper bag that you can push to the limits.

Overpacking isn't fun for anyone, but when you have a baby, it's a must. You think you only need 10 diapers for the plane ride? Pack 15. Bring a whole carton of wipes. And a 2nd book and chew toy in case you accidently leave one in the airport terminal... like I did. And two extra outfits, 
just in case. 

That way, when you and your 3-month old are flying alone together and he decides to present you with a poo-splosion diaper, 10,000 feet above Cleveland... you don't want to lose your mind over it. $h!t happens. Pun intended. If you're prepared, there will be less freak-outs and less stress. 

Aliya uses this diaper bag by Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Also, pack smartly. My diaper bag has tons of outside pockets and I make sure to keep things in them that I will need at a second's notice or need often — like, my wallet/ID, the pacifier, hand sanitizer, etc. When you're juggling a baby and a huge diaper bag and the attendant is asking for your boarding pass which is at the bottom of your bag under 12 blankies and clothes and bottles, you're going to want to kick yourself. Make sure anything you'll 
need can be accessed with one hand and accessed quickly.

Depending on where you're going, you also want to make sure your destination has everything your family needs. If you're flying somewhere, you might not be able to bring a pack-and-play or large stroller with you... call ahead and see if the people you are staying with are able to borrow the items you might need from a friend. Or, if you're staying in a hotel, try and figure out how you can arrange to get any items you might need.

2. Be Flexible 
I am about as neurotic and OCD as you can get when it comes to sticking to a schedule and routine. That might not work for everyone, but it definitely works for us, and with another little babe on the way, it was imperative to me that my son have a daily routine that he and I both acknowledge and stick to. With that said, rules are meant to be broken... and when you're traveling, sticking to a routine is almost impossible. You can try (and believe me, I do), but you have to remember to be flexible.

Your child is also out of his element/comfort zone.. might not sleep as well or as long in a new place. Might be thrown off by the smells or people or noises. Maybe you're going on a long car trip and your kid (if he's like mine) sleeps the whole way there... then he's probably not going to be ready for his usual 3 p.m. nap two hours later. If we're driving somewhere, we try to plan the drive around his naps or leave at night so he sleeps as much as possible. Let your kid stay in their PJs in the car so that they're comfortable, and always keep snacks, music and toys to keep them busy if they start to get anxious. 

One important thing to remember is to try and be attuned to their needs and make them as comfortable as possible with their new and unfamiliar surroundings. We always bring his favorite toys, books and blankets... as well as a travel "Sleep Sheep" since he always sleeps with one at home. One blogger I follow travels a lot and always puts her kid's pack-and-play in the hotel bathroom since it's the quietest/coolest/darkest place. I think that's genius! Not ideal, but again... being flexible and figuring out what works for you is key. 

Lastly, what you pack for your trip really depends on the age of your child... the older they are, the more entertainment they'll need (books, toys, a DVD player, perhaps). Also, I cannot stress the importance of a non-stop flight. When it's just you, it's fine... but when traveling, you want to get to your destination as quickly as possible. TRUST ME when I say that your sanity will be worth the extra $100 round-trip. 

When we flew to California with our son, he was about 5 months old. He slept most of the way and we were able to entertain him for about an hour after he woke up... but those last 40 minutes of that 5.5 hour flight were the hardest. He didn't cry or fuss, but we could tell he was getting bored and antsy and there is only so long you can have a kid sit in your lap! We took turns being "those parents" who would walk him up and down the airplane aisles... take him to the back to look out the window... and distract him with cups and peanut bags. I always felt bad for those parents before I became one! However, as long as you're willing to be flexible and do what works, you'll be fine! 

Hope these tips help some of you who might be worried about traveling with a baby! Maybe after I have my little girl, I can come back and talk about traveling with two under two -- Ha! :) Thanks again, Amber for letting me hijack your blog space for the day!

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