We survived our first BIG travel adventure with Olivia… and I learned a few things in the process about traveling with a baby!
Things I will be remembering for our next trip:
1. Make sure you have a copy of baby’s birth certificate handy for the flight!
We knew that children under 2 could fly for free. The day before we left, however, we realized that we would actually need to PROVE Olivia’s age. Kiddos these days need an boarding pass EVEN if they aren’t taking up an official seat (at least if they are flying Southwest Airlines). James and I both looked at each other and wondered, “Do we have a birth certificate?” Nope, we didn’t. Oh, the details! Turns out, automatically mailing parents a birth certificate isn’t a standard practice. We scrambled to get to our local records office to obtain a copy of this precious document.
2. Distract, distract, distract (while on the plane)!
I was probably the most nervous about this portion of our trip. I think I probably lost sleep wondering how Olivia’s ears would adjust to changing altitudes, whether we would have a diaper disaster mid-flight, or if she would cry the entire time. Fortunately, Olivia did great! In fact, she was all smiles on the flight to DC!
These strategies worked well for us:
- We timed her bottles for take-off and landing, which probably helped her ears adjust.
- We brought along a new toy for her to play with on the plane. This one easily suctioned to the seat’s tray table and easily entertained her for a stretch. Improvise as needed! When our flight attendant brought us water, the drink’s straw became the next fascinating object for Olivia to explore. (…and an excellent exercise in fine motor skills with supervision!)
- Read this fantastic article by Joanna Goddard (A Cup of Jo) for other ideas, including an unconventional one on where to sit on the plane.
3. Only bring washable toys.
On our next trip, I’m only going to bring toys that I can easily throw in the washing machine, wash quickly at the sink, or easily wipe down with a nontoxic cleaner. This round, I brought along a mixture of toys that she loves- including some cloth books that aren’t designed to hold up in the washing machine. When toys like these hit the ground of an airport floor, a part of me just cringes. I’ll be packing all washable or wipe-able toys on our next adventure!
4. Use a backpack as a diaper bag.
We brought Olivia’s standard over the shoulder diaper bag along for this trip, which works wonderfully for us at home. We definitely needed something different for this trip where we were constantly on the go. Our shoulders literally ached from carting around this incredible heavy tote. Next time, I will use a backpack… so much easier to lug around.
5. Bring your baby carrier EVERYWHERE!
Our Ergo baby carrier was a saving grace. We used it all the time- traveling through the airport, exploring typical tourist spots, and lulling Olivia to sleep during nap time while we were on the go.
It was very hot in DC while we were visiting. At the zoo, I noticed a mom had clipped a mini-fan to her child’s stroller to help circulate air. Depending on the weather forecast for our next trip, this little convenience item might become a necessity for the stroller or carrier!
6. Bring lots of Ziploc baggies, Clorox wipes, and hand sanitizer. And, a pacifier clip.
Ziploc baggies were wonderful for sorting toys, pacifiers… you name it! I brought along 2 packs of the Clorox travel wipes that they sell in the dollar bins at Target to wipe down miscellaneous surfaces Olivia might encounter (…especially since everything is going in her mouth these days). I used them to wipe off the plane’s tray table, arm rests, seat-belt buckle, as well as restaurant tables. (You wouldn’t believe the grime that came up!)
Her pacifier clip was an absolute necessity! Olivia is one strong cookie and has managed to pull several pacifier clip grippers loose in the past. She just loves to shake the ribbon and pacifier up and down vigorously. This one by Booginhead has worked really well for us.
7. Bring this amazing play-mat.
Photo: Twins! My adorable niece and Olivia on our favorite activity mat.
I can’t say enough about this fantastic mat: Tiny Love’s Super Mat. I discovered this gem on Elena’s blog, The Art of Making a Baby. You can read her review of this product HERE. I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment. I loved bringing this mat along when we traveled– it provided continuity for Olivia as it is a regular part of our routine at home, it delineated a safe and semi-padded space for her to roll around, and it folded up easily in our suitcase.
8. Bring a collapsible tote to store toys.
At the last minute, I threw in a vinyl reusable shopping bag to throw all of Olivia’s toys in when we got to our destination. I’m SO glad I included this item. Instead of having all her toys scattered over her grandparent’s house where they might get stepped on or easily misplaced, I had a designated spot to throw all her toys in at night. It’s the simple things.
9. Strike a balance between trying to plan for everything and going with the flow.
I am a planner by nature and love to have a game plan in place for just about everything. As the saying goes though, “best laid plans…” For instance, I had planned to have formula and diapers delivered to our destination with our Amazon prime membership so I wouldn’t need to pack these bulky items. When I went to place the order, however, I discovered Olivia’s specific formula was “out of stock” until after our return date! So, plan B… a short trip to Target to stock-up when we got to DC.
I recently saw this post by Mrs. Limestone and loved that she didn’t set an agenda on her first adventure traveling with a baby. She simply enjoyed the time and explored the city at the baby’s pace.
10. Schedule a chiropractic adjustment for yourself when you get home!
Olivia has seen a pediatric chiropractor regularly since she was born. I happened to have a session scheduled for both of us two days after we got home. What a happy coincidence! Dr. Grein immediately remarked that she could literally see where the straps of our carrier had sunk into my muscles from all the baby carrying of the past week. Travel can be rough! Remember to take good care of yourself (and your aching muscles!) when you get home whether it’s scheduling a massage/adjustment OR simply taking some time-out to indulge in a relaxing bubble bath.