V for Vacations.
If you are anything like me, then you would have stressed and fussed and lost sleep over your first vacation with baby in tow. We went on our first vacation with #BabyT when he was 9 months old, and the whole idea was to celebrate my birthday in a fun & relaxed way. How wrong was I?
For an entire week before our first vacation, I was suffering from stress migraines, babyT was being his fussiest best and I had also fallen prey to the pre-vacation anthem “I have nothing to wear”, “nothing fits” and “Oh my God, I need some spa & parlour treatments, like now!” It was a nightmare.
But… my baby surprised me and taught me a very valuable lesson. That I need to let go and learn to “chill mom” Yes my 9 month old taught me how to enjoy a vacation. I came back with a list of why it actually makes total sense to travel with a baby. Here is why I completely urge you to pack your bags and leave right now with baby on board.
- Babies enjoy holidays – we were so skeptical and anxious about whether babyT will sleep in a new bed and if he will be comfortable in a new room. However the moment we entered our hotel room, he got so excited to see the nicely made bed and the crisp sheets that he leaned towards the bed and insisted we put him on it. He then spent the next 10 minutes rolling around on the bed and we breathed a sigh of relief. He loved the big french windows, the spic and span bathroom and the ride up the elevator to the room. It was so cute to see him marvel at all the sights and sounds at the hotel we stayed at.
- Younger babies are fuss free – if they are still breastfeeding then it is an epic win. If they are on formula it is still a win, you can mix it up on the go. But most importantly you don’t have to order special food and then struggle to feed them. Even if they are on solid foods, fruits are available anywhere in the world, require no cooking and so can be offered to baby any time and any place. We went to Goa on our first holiday (obviously had to go to Goa) and even dared to give him fish fry and he loved it. He ate all types of fish. We also learnt here that our baby is a restaurant lover, who got super excited whenever we went to a new restaurant and wanted to try everything that was on our plates. We gave him fish fry, rice and daal freely. We did not carry any baby food from home with us.
- Babies have no to-do and to-see list while on holiday – This is the best part, that they have no agendas and you don’t have to revolve your holiday around their plans. You will anyway visit restaurants, beaches or go shopping and babies love being a part of all these environments.
While they are young, they are still too tiny to enjoy stuff like noisy theme parks or even understand places like zoos or aquariums, so we saved all this for future holidays and just did what we wanted to in Goa.
- You can still carry them around – Tiny babies who have not yet sprouted legs, can be carried around in baby carriers. They won’t always agree to being carried once they are walking and exploring.
But babywearing is a blessing and I cannot imagine my life at home or outside with a carrier or two in tow. I never leave home without my baby carrier now. I don’t think I know how to carry a baby in my empty arms. 🙂
Having said that, as a parent one cannot help but be all fussy and worried about baby’s comfort while traveling on vacations. But with some careful planning vacations with babies can turn out to be quite enjoyable for you and the little tykes. 🙂
Where to go with babies?
- Staycations – you don’t really need to go far and wide in order to catch a break. A staycation at a nice hotel in your city can hit the spot quite well
- Visit family and friends in other cities, towns or even countries – there is nothing like the comfort of a close friend or relative’s house in a new place. You have access to all facilities like a well stocked up kitchen, laundry and the support of other people to mind baby while you take a breather.
- Hotels with their own restaurants, pools and entertainment facilities– these are the best because you don’t really have to leave the hotel premises to eat or spend some time at the gym or getting a spa service done.
As for the actual travel, packing and vacation itself, good planning is definitely needed to ensure the holiday is stress-free and enjoyable for all of you. To help with this I enlisted the help of a fellow mommy, Charu Sharma, who first traveled with her baby when he was just 1.5 months old, internationally mind you and then bitten by the travel bug, she kept travelling with her little one and seems to have perfected the art of vacationing with baby.
Here’s what she has to say to help with flight journeys, (the parts in brackets have been added by me to add on to what Charu has to say.)
- While booking tickets, keep in mind your baby’s nap and sleep (and maybe even poop times). If possible avoid travelling in those hours.
- If you have to take early morning flight, always dress up the baby in comfortable and warm clothes at night before going to bed teamed with a bulletproof night time diaper. (yes we are cloth diapering moms, and yes cloth diapers do last the entire night and some more) so that you can just carry them away while they are asleep and change them when they are awake.
- Carry a spare sweatshirt for unpredictable AC temperature. (Its easy to take off layers of clothes if it gets warm, but difficult to find warm clothes if it is too cold. )
- Always carry along a few favorite snacks. Try and keep a few options with you. When babies are being fussy, something edible usually does the trick. She adds that roasted makhanas were a saviour on a 2hours flight as her son kept munching on these throughout.
- (I loved this one!) Charu says she hides her son’s favorite toy 2-3 days before their scheduled travel date, and this item appears magically inflight when his tantrums are about to begin. She also is planning to get one of those magnetic doodle boards for the next travel and confides in me that the grand reveal will happen mid air. (this woman is genius I tell you.)
- Pack a small and well planned and well memorized diaper bag. Toddlers don’t give you time to hunt down anything in your bag. Charu uses small wet bags (What is a wet bag you ask? Check my blog post here) to store stuff. It is a bonus knowing exactly what needs to go with you to the baby room if they need a diaper change mid air.
- Most importantly reach the airport well before those last 45 minutes. Inquire about the baby care room, if you need one. Charu recommends to always feed as well as change the diaper just before boarding. If the airline you have chosen to fly with does not allow you to do web check in with infants, it is best to go early and pick a seat according to your preference.
- Gate check in the stroller at the aircraft’s gate and if required ask for assistance for storing the hand baggage in storage bin at the aircraft gate itself. Walking down those narrow pathways with a baby and a hand baggage can be little difficult. Airline staff are generally very helpful and one just needs to ask.
- Priority check in and boarding: If the airlines is not offering, ask for it, specially if you are traveling alone. A calm mommy = a calm baby.
- If nothing works and your baby is howling and crying despite all your efforts to calm him down, you need to keep calm and not worry too much about those dirty looks (even the sympathetic ones in that particular moment is not looked forward to). Babies cry. Its natural and it happens and everyone goes through it. You don’t have to be guilty about it.
- most of the airlines don’t allow you to keep a really big diaper bag with you during take-off and landing. So having small wetbags with essential items does help. You can just take out that particular wetbag which you feel you might need and keep it with you during take off and landing, instead of the whole diaper bag.
Charu is on Instagram as: https://www.instagram.com/charutiwaris/
I feel armed with so many more ideas thanks to all the tips given by Charu here. In fact I am yearning for a vacation now and this time I am looking forward to it. Have you traveled with babies? What was the one thing that you will recommend to someone looking to vacation with a baby?
Note: Did you know I Cloth Diapered while I was on vacation. That was a big win for me and inspirational for many other cloth diapering moms I know. Read the full post here.