Ok...I apologize in advance, a little bragging session is necessary. In little M's first 5 months of life she's traveled in 11 states. This included a 32 hr road trip road trip at 4 weeks and an East Coast plane trip at 4.5 months for Thanksgiving. We've also made the 5 hr drive to my hometown numerous times! In all of these travels she has been nothing less than a stud! She loves her car seat which has been a major help, obviously. Now, I'm not stupid. I know that the first 6 months are the easiest to travel with little ones. That's why I'm writing this post now...as I'm sure our trips later on might produce a post titled "My Kid: The Traveling Tornado." But until then, I'm going to revel in the dream that I may have birthed a travel prodigy. Let me gloat...will ya?
Today I thought I would share how we made our big Thanksgiving trip go off so successfully. We were probably just super lucky...but I'm going to chalk it up to me being super mom. Ha! Right. Keep in mind, every kid is different (we weren't all given the above glorified travel pro) and every trip is different. There are so many moving parts and the key is really to just break it down into individual portions and hope you're prepared for each one. There is usually a plethora of options for coffee and alcoholic beverages while on vacation too...so if all else fails default to the blessed cup.
A few things to note about our trip that definitely shaped our planning.
1. We flew Southwest. Bags fly free y'all.
2. We had laundry available at my inlaws.
3. We didn't stay in a hotel.
4. I traveled with my husband. So much would change if I were doing this solo.
Packing. Ok...I overpacked. We probably would have been right on had we not had access to laundry, but we did, so there was some overkill. There was a wide range of weather forecasted so we all had winter coats and hats along with other weights of jackets. I packed two extra outfits for baby in our carry on and an extra shirt for me. We used baby's extra outfits on our trip with two public blow-out diapers (the Lincoln Memorial and Times Square are just too exciting I suppose!). Luckily her spit up habit declined while we were gone and I never needed the extra shirt. Thankfully we didn't need any extra clothes on the airplane!
Airports. Like I said, we checked 3 bags. We carried on a diaper bag, a backpack and the boppy pillow. We pushed Makena in her car seat/stroller through the airport and gate checked them both. We got an orange gate check bag at Baby's R Us for the carseat. It would have been nice to have one for the stroller too, just to keep it a little more protected. I'll admit, security was a bit of a hassle with the stroller. It would have been really stressful on my own but having the extra hands helped a ton...Thanks hubs! We had to take baby out, take everything off the stroller, collapse it, and send everything through the conveyor belt. Not really sure how I would have done that with a baby in my arms. I've heard if you wear your baby you get to walk right through which would be super nice, but it was still worth it to us to have the stroller in the airport. We loaded it up with everything so our hands were free and she was comfy. Unfortunately, she has a fairly short attention span when it comes to riding in her front wrap. That bring said, I would definitely wear her if I was flying alone. We also needed a copy of her birth certificate when we checked in. I had heard conflicting opinions and it might vary based on airline but I'm glad we had hers. She even got her own "lap-baby" ticket! While waiting to board we let her play on a blanket on the floor. I picked one with two different colored sides so we knew which one was covered in nasty airport grime.
Flying. I planned to nurse on takeoff and landing but she fell asleep while we were taxiing on both flights. She woke up mid-flight but was easily nursed back to sleep. Seriously...where is this sleepy baby when we are home all day? On our way home we had free TV (Southwest for the win again!) so she enjoyed watching some college football while she was awake. Her ears didn't seem to bother her at all thank goodness! I did make sure she was either eating or sucking on her paci on takeoff and landings. Having the Boppy pillow was really nice and saved my arms and back throughout the trip! With M still being so small I think it was worth it, but I doubt I will bring it on future trips. It would also be an extra hassle if I was traveling alone.
Tourist-ing. We spent a day and a half in Washington DC visiting friends and Little M was great being on the go all day. We used the stroller on the Metro which was actually super easy. We had an awesome day visiting The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Vietnam, Korean and World War II memorials as well as the Smithsonian American History Museum and the Capital. Whew! Honestly, she slept through most of it, except for a blow-out diaper and slightly traumatic bathroom incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Note to self...when you have to strip your baby down to nothing in a strange place, try to avoid being next to the deafening automatic hand dryers.
Eating out went very smoothly throughout the whole trip as well. We brought the stroller into the DC restaurants and there was always room for her. In some other places we just brought her car seat bucket and we learned the super-cool-trick of flipping the wooden high chair over, making the perfect car seat holder! Brilliant! The road trip from DC to NJ was uneventful, but we did get to stop in Baltimore to see an old friend and her new baby (fun!) and stop in Philly at my favorite bakery (saving that for it's own post!). We stayed in NJ with my in-laws, and they had a blast playing with Makena. We made the not-so-smart decision to go visit New York City on Black Friday...that was probably the most challenging part of the trip. We took a train from NJ to NYC and wearing her would have been MUCH EASIER. It was very cold and EXTREMELY chaotic in the city and again, the stroller wasn't ideal. I did bring my Boba Wrap along on the trip, but not to NYC...mistake! Oh well, we got to see Macy's and Times Square and baby got to hang out in her first Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (our fav!). We'll have to go back one day to see all of the rest of the sites we missed!
Feeding. I think the little one was going through a growth spurt while we were away. Not only did she sleep like a champ, she ate a lot more too! I fed on demand, and got way more comfortable with public breastfeeding! She enjoyed lunch on the lawn of the Washington Monument and in a coffee shop in Times Square! I have a nifty-difty (and cute!) nursing cover that really came in handy.
Sleeping. We made a last minute decision to leave the Pack N Play behind. She hadn't been sleeping well on her own lately anyways, so we decided not to fight that battle on vacation. M slept with us each night which really worked out fine. She stayed up late with us, but I really didn't mind because she was sleeping so much each day while we were on the go. We kept her night time routine the same, albeit later.
We wrapped up the trip with our final flight home, a 4 hr flight from Newark. My (ok the baby's) crowning achievement was when the woman sitting in front of us stood to pick up her bags when we landed and she exclaimed to everyone around that she had no idea a baby had been behind her! SUCCESS!
Some some tips I came up with that helped us have a happy-baby-trip...maybe they'll help you too!
how about you?
We've got lots of traveling in our future...what is your best travel tip for babies/kiddos?
It's great to see you! I'm Alyssa and I blog about all the things I've found "essential" in my life as a fit mama and football coach's wife. You'll find all kinds of fun stuff here like workouts, oily info, football stories and more!
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