Tuesday, February 8, 2011

traveling with a baby. it can be done!

it's no secret i was pretty nervous for this two week trip to hawaii with parker & our friends.  i was worried about the six hour flight there & back, parker crying while sharing a condo with two other {currently kidless} couples, fitting naps into a busy sight-seeing agenda, & all those other inevitable baby-related inconveniences that might occur.

all these worries were for naught.  it went perfectly.  here's what helped us & what we learned along the way:

number one:  if your baby is under two years old & is flying free as an "infant on lap", ask at the gate if you can be moved to a spot with an empty seat.

this is my NUMBER ONE TIP.  i cannot sing enough praise for this one piece of advice.  it saved us big time, both ways.  and?  kudos to hawaiian airlines for being super accommodating.  both times they were able to move us to an empty row of three seats, which allowed for us to bring on the car seat & strap parker in.  the benefits were two fold: it made me feel so much more comfortable knowing that he was securely belted in his carseat rather than being held while flying through the air at 500 mph, AND he felt like he was riding in the car, so he slept like a champ. 

when he was awake were were able to put the carseat under the seat in front of us & let him stretch his legs, sit up in the seat, crawl around a little, etc.  it was awesome.

number 2:  if you're traveling with friends, travel with friends who love kids.

this was key to our successful two weeks.  we have awesome friends.  even though the two couples we vacationed with don't have kids yet, they were all amazing with parker.  everyone played with him, held him, entertained him, & kept him happy at one point or another.  not once did anyone complain when we had to wait an extra half hour or so to go out because parker was napping, or when we had to be a little more mindful of quietly closing doors because a baby was sleeping.

but on the flip side of that...

number three:  be flexible, be realistic, & realize that every one else's vacation doesn't need to revolve around your kid.

kids are pretty dang adaptable.  once i accepted that parker would probably miss a few naps, stay up a bit later, & eat at a few different times than normal, the vacation went great.  we didn't want to hold everyone else back for the sake of his "schedule", so realizing that your kid can handle a few upsets in his normal routine makes life a bit easier for everyone.

number four:  always pack a backpack full of snacks, sippy cups, toys, diapers, wipes, clothes changes, & more snacks. take it everywhere.

having a bag of tricks to keep parker entertained was pretty key.  we always had a backpack on hand full of toys, various snacks, his sippy cup, a change of clothes, diapers, & wipes.  this seems obvious, but it was easy to forget about.  until we would go from the beach to a restaurant & realize we left stuff for him to play with in the car.  if we just took this one go-to bag with us everywhere we were set.

how is this different than packing a diaper bag?  i suppose it's not much different.  but a backpack seems much more on-the-go trip-like, right?  and, sam wore it a lot.  so it's different.

number five:  have an amazing husband who pulls his own share.

sam is easily the number one reason why this vacation with parker went so smoothly for me.  we totally took turns staying back at the condo with parker during naps, holding him while the other swam in the ocean, & carrying him in the baby bjorn for hikes.  never once did i feel like i was getting the short end of the stick, or that parker was completely my responsibility.  why should i?  his dad was with me.  and sam was perfect in that respect.

make sure your partner is on board with baby duties & that you agree to how you will share the down time so that the trip will be relaxing & fair for both of you.

and finally,

number six:  realize it might not go perfectly.  there will be tears, there will be fussiness, & there will be things that don't go quite as you planned.

one thing i didn't expect?  parker would HATE the beach.  he hated sand.  he hated being on a blanket or a towel on top of sand.  all time spent at the beach with parker was spent holding parker.  but that was ok.  sam & i took turns holding him & our friends helped out a few times too.  as long as he was held, he was happy.

also?  he would not, for the life of him, stand in the water.  if he was up by your shoulder clutching you tightly, he would allow for you to wade in the water with him.  but standing in it?  not happening.  ah well, maybe next time.

oh yeah.  and?  parker cut a tooth on this trip.  i won't even go into that.

so anywho, there's a few things that worked for us.  a vacation is totally worth it, even after baby.  i would do it again in a heartbeat.

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  1. Awesome tips! These are exactly the same things I would have written after I travelled with Collin...only MY airline refused to let me move to an open seat. By the end of my flight. I was in hysterics. LOL!

  2. Great tips! Funny how little quirky things can pop up like the sand thing with Parker... Well done!

  3. Love the tips...I will keep that in mind for future baby traveling days (not now, but someday!). :)

  4. Great tips. Thanks for sharing. Your number 1 tip is exactly what we did when we traveled with Dustyn at 10 months.

  5. Thanks for sharing your tips! This is exactly what I needed to hear as we prepare for our own vacation in a few weeks. Can I request another post?? WHAT TO PACK! I need to know!!!

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  7. Great tips! Glad the vacation went well, and you had fun. I am hesitant to bring my toddler on a plane. Not sure if it will happen. For now we'll stick with the hour drive to the Jersey shore :)

  8. Thanks for the tips. First trip with babe will be August, she'll be 18 months but I'm so nervous since she never sits still. These defintiely gave me a lot of things to think about! :)

  9. Oh man, you're so lucky he sill fits in an infant seat!! Flying with Bennett is one of the things I am REALLY not looking forward to. He has been out of his infant seat since he was 6 months old and he CAN NOT sleep outside of his crib. I really wonder what we would do with him on a 6 hour flight?? Do you have any suggestions for that?? Please? :)
    But anyway, I'm so glad you had a good time! So strange Parker does like the sand or water! I guarantee that will change as he gets older! he he.

  10. YES! I just took a 2 week vacation to see my family with just me and Lily (9 months) and your tips are bang on. Especially the one about realizing that baby's schedule will change a bit and that is ok, it is vacation after all.

    My one problem was that Lily became a total mama's girl and would not leave my side. After I decided that that was ok we had a great time.

  11. Traveling with a baby is stressful! I first did it when mine was 3 months old and the entire time I was on stress mode!! Glad it all worked out for you, great tips!

  12. Glad you guys had fun!

    We took Pie to the beach when she was about 6 months. She wanted nothing to do with the ocean and was only interested in eating the sand. Good times.

  13. great tips. by the time we take another family trip like this our kids will be in college. :) this year we have decided to reserve our money expenses for our new home. glad you had a great time. we have always taken our children with us on vacation. my parents were top dog business people and always traveled and i never went with them anywhere and it is important to me that i involve my children in everything. i want them to have beautiful memories of their childhood.

  14. seems crazy, but its awesome that yall still had a great time, and maybe he will grow into liking the beach you never know, thats for the advice!

  15. I am glad that the trip went so well!! So silly he doesnt like the beach. But its ok hes super cute

  16. Great tips and such a cute post!

  17. Those are great tips! I can't believe I didn't ever think to ask about the extra seat on the plane-- I thought you guys paid for that. I had no idea they would be so accommodating. I'm totally gonna give it a shot for our easter trip :)

  18. So glad it went well for you guys! This totally gives me hope for our future trips!

  19. Looks like you're doing a great job! Fabulous photos :)

  20. These are great tips. You look like you traveled like a pro!

  21. I wonder if, when you wrote this, you realized how helpful it really would be to some of us. I've been losing sleep over an upcoming two hour plane ride with young children, and to know that there are ways to make a SIX hour flight go smoothly?! Well, I'll be sleeping like a baby tonight. =)


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