Traveling: something TJ and I used to be able to do so effortlessly. I remember one morning waking up, and TJ had booked a trip to Santa Barbara, in the middle of the night, and asked me if I could be ready to go in an hour. I said “No, give me an extra 15 minutes.” I threw
some a ton of clothes in a bag and off we went. Now? Um, I don’t think so.
Yet, traveling was something that we promised each other we would continue to do with Harper. So, before she was born, we booked our first trip timed when she would be 6 weeks old. Each week we told each other that there was no way we would be able to travel with a 6 week old… yet, around the 5 week mark, we decided that we were just going to go. And go we did. I’ll never forget packing for that first trip (which you can read about here) and how many different times TJ had to go back and forth between the car and our condo to load everything. I remember buying dry ice to keep my pre-frozen milk, well, frozen. It was a lot of work, but so worth it…. so much so, we decided to graduate ourselves to a plane flight. Which carried with it a whole new adventure… security lines, checking items at the gate… it certainly was an ordeal… but we then graduated ourselves yet again to a trip to Hawaii. Needless to say, little miss adds an added layer. All that being said, I thought I would share a few tips I have gathered along the way in case you too are looking to take that first trip with a little one.
1. Start Packing Early: I start making a list of what I need for myself, as well as Harper, at least 3 days before we depart. I don’t leave packing the actual bags for the night before either. I’ve found that the morning before is the best time to pack bags in case there is something I left off the list and remember in the process of packing (mom brain precludes me from remembering everything… it’s worse than pregnancy brain… just the other day I couldn’t remember how old I was….).
2. The Right Luggage Helps: On our first few trips, TJ and Harper ended up sharing a suit case for the sake of space. While it worked, it ended up being more of a hassle. Their items got mixed up… those little socks of hers ended up in TJ’s shoes… only to be found upon return (not much help when you’re looking for them at bedtime…). The past few trips we have taken, I’ve used this travel bag and cosmetics case to carry Harper’s items. It’s roomy enough to hold all her clothing items (which rivals mine), diapers, baby monitor, a couple of books + toys, and a few swaddles. The cosmetic case is excellent to carry her lotions, vitamin D drops, bathing soap, and little extras. These items worked for our road trips. If you’re flying I recommend consolidating as we did initially. I highly recommend travel bags for your carseat and strollers. I use the UPPAbaby stroller carrier (which has wheels, which, trust me, is a lifesaver when you’re navigating the airport) and this carseat carrier (which we stuffed the bumbo seat in as well). The carseat carrier is massive, and I get a chuckle every time TJ wears it (he’s a good sport). I used a smaller diaper bag for the plane so it could easily under the seat. We also brought her swaddle on the plane (in case she needed it to soothe) as well as the baby carrier (which we ultimately did not use, but I felt better knowing we had it).
3. Gate Check: Gate check, gate check, gate check. Car seat and strollers fly free, and I highly recommend gate checking them. The stroller helps in navigating the airport, as you don’t have to hold the little one, and you can use the underside as a carrier for other items. It’s a slight hassle when going through security, but that doesn’t outweigh its benefits.
4. In Flight: All the advice I received was true: have the little one sucking on something during take off and landing. I chose to nurse, but I have a friend who opted to bottle feed. If Harper was sleeping, I followed the advice to not wake her up, and she appeared unaffected by any shift in cabin pressure. I think my biggest fear would be that she would become fussy and bother others on the plane. En route to Hawaii we had a rough 45 minutes, at which point TJ stood up and hung out at the back of the plane with the flight attendants (and Harper of course)…. who were incredibly friendly and didn’t mind him hanging back there with her (in fact, they offered him a beer…). At the end of the flight, several people came up to me and said, “We didn’t even know she was on the flight….” which lead me to believe the fussiness wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be. We brought some simple toys for Harper to play with, but mainly had to entertain her on our own… songs and naps seemed to be what worked for us.
5. Dress: When traveling with a little one, wear something comfortable. Think sandals or slip on sneakers… going through security isn’t easy with all that extra baggage and the last thing you want to worry about is removing complicated shoes. I wore a sweater, instead of a jacket, so that I wouldn’t have to remove that either. I also made sure to bring a few extra plastic baggies in case of a blow-out, and some extra clothes for Harper.
That’s it! Again, I’m no expert, and most of this advice was passed down to me. Once we started traveling, we made our own personal tweaks along the way and found out what worked best for us. Happy traveling!