A few friends recently asked for tips on travelling with infants so I thought I’d share some things that worked for us. Here’s a shot of Marguerite on one of her early flights at 9 mos. old. Don ‘t you love that the pilot is bald, too!
1. Be Minimal. Share a suitcase.
In general I try to be minimal about baby gear, and I’m definitely in favor of packing light. You’ll be happier with less stuff to lug around and you can usually buy diapers, food, a toy or two, where you’re going. I always share a suitcase with Marguerite (which depending on how long we’re going means we sometimes pay to check the bag, but I think it’s $15 well spent and makes getting around the airport easier). Then I would use the diaper bag as a carry-on and Scott would have his own carry-on suitcase.
2. Get a lightweight stroller. Make sure baby naps in it.
Since we lived in a small apartment when Marguerite was born, I got the lightest and most compact “nice” stroller I could find, the Bugaboo Bee. It’s a bit pricey but it is awesome because we’ve only ever needed one stroller — sounds crazy but I can’t believe how many of my friends have two and three strollers. I’ve found that when you buy a big stroller you end up having to get a second Snap ‘n’ Go to use for travel. With the Bee, we just took the seat off and used the frame with a Graeco adaptor and her infant car seat for the first 12 months when we travelled, which was a great compact and lightweight option that still had a good ride. (And its tires and shocks are so good, I’ve jogged with it, too.)
BUT, if your main stroller is a big jogger, I’d borrow a friend’s Snap ‘n’ Go for travel or get one on Craigslist. If your baby has outgrown the infant carseat then go with an umbrella stroller. I would not want to be rolling around with an SUV-sized stroller outside the a cul-de-sac, let alone the country.
3. Don’t sweat the naps.
Hopefully your baby is flexible and will sleep in carseat, stroller, plane, car, etc. This is really a key to a good vacation with an infant because you’re not going to want to run back to the hotel room every time they need a nap. So if you haven’t been doing this, start practicing by taking them on test-run walks during nap time in whatever stroller or baby carrier you want them to nap in on vacation.
Often stroller naps aren’t as long or peaceful but that’s okay. The good news is that when babies are young and take several naps a day there’s less pressure on each nap. If one is bad, they usually make up for it later. So don’t worry if a nap is skipped. As a good friend told me: You’re on vacation and you may do some things you’re not supposed to do, too, like have a cocktail at noon!
4. Feed at takeoff and Landing.
Breast- or bottle-feeding the baby at takeoff and landing will help ease ear pressure and make everyone on the plane a lot happier with you and your babe.
5. Get it there.
I usually packed some diapers with plans to get more at my destination. The same goes for food. And infants shouldn’t need many toys since they can be entertained by almost anything: napkins, cups, paper. I would bring about three toys: one crinkly stuffed toy (like Freddie the Firefly that hooked on to the stroller), a rattle (I loved this Nambe baby rattle because it was small enough to always keep in the diaper bag and I could hook it to the carseat with a leash) and her “nigh-nigh” ducky blankey (which I introduced to start signaling that it’s time for sleep). I also would travel with a muslin swaddle blanket to drape over the carseat during nap time, to protect from the sun, coverup while breastfeeding, use as a beach blanket, towel, burp cloth, you name it.
What worked for you?
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