Friday, June 26, 2009

Traveling with a Baby-- Oh Yeah

The summer before I got pregnant with Hadley, Sean and I took a cruise to Mexico. Packing for that trip was something I put off until the last minute because I hate to pack. I literally threw a bunch of shorts, tank tops, swim suits, and sundresses into a bag the night before we left. And traveling to our port was simple. We drove until one of us got hungry or thirsty or bored or tired, which wasn't that often. Then, we stopped for a few minutes and went on about our way. Those were such simple days.

Now, packing for a trip with Hadley involves plans of such epic proportion that you would think we were trying to move to a new house instead of just go on a week-long vacation. And, the actual road trip itself was less about rushing to get somewhere and more about just making it somewhere with our sanity intact.

Here are a few things I learned on our journey that might make packing, traveling, and vacationing with a little one a little easier.

* If you forget to pack it, you can buy it. I stressed and stressed over having everything I would need for Hadley (from food to clothes to toys) and honestly, we way over-packed. If I had it to do over again, I would only pack a fraction of what we took. Remember that most hotels and/ or condos have laundry facilities, so you can wash clothes if baby rips through every outfit the first day. And, Hadley has been known to do this. The one thing I was really happy I over-packed, though, was a bag of toys. They were invaluable at distracting Hadley while we spent hours in the car.

* Have all of baby's essentials on hand and close by in the car on long car rides. I rode in the backseat with Hadley and had a bag with all of her bottles and food, some finger foods to occupy her snacking needs, diapers and wipes (I didn't change her while we were on the move, though), and a bag full of toys. This made it easy to keep her occupied and make sure she ate on schedule. We tried to stop and get out of the car when she was ready to eat, though. That might have helped more than anything in keeping her from feeling so cooped up in the car.

* All of the odds and ends in your diaper bag and glove compartment (garage door opener, sunglasses, cell phone) are amazingly interesting to a baby and will occupy precious minutes when baby gets bored in the car. At one point on our drive, Sean and my brother took turns giving Hadley their electronic gadgets to play with. She loved it and it bought us a few more miles of happiness. Just make sure the stuff you give baby doesn't have small parts that can be swallowed and is "locked" so baby can't call China.

* Check to see if the hotel or resort has a crib or pack 'n play for baby, so that you don't have to lug your own with you. Our resort had pack 'n plays and we opted to use one with a crib sheet we purchased. I also wiped down the bed THOROUGHLY with anti-bacterial wipes.

* Try to keep the baby on schedule. This is hard since a vacation requires flexibility for everyone's schedules, but if you can maintain some semblence of a schedule, it will make your life so much easier once you return home. Hadley was on an awesome schedule prior to our trip and inevitably, the late dinners, nights out, day trips, days spent swimming, and new surroundings obliterated that. Hadley is re-learning her schedule now and is not so happy about it.

* If you have sleep trained your baby, try, try, try not to undo it. This is a hard one because I'm not sure what the solution is. I felt bad leaving Hadley in a strange room, in a strange condo, and in a strange bed alone to cry herself to sleep. I knew she was confused and scared and felt that I would only compound that by leaving her to "cry it out" in her pack 'n play. But, by not doing so, she became dependent on us to stay with her while she fell asleep. And now, we are having to re-train her to sleep on her own. Ugh.

* Take lots and lots of sunscreen for everyone (if you are traveling to a warm-weather destination). We took baby sunscreen in SPF 60 for Hadley and SPF's 45 and 55 for me and Sean. We slathered it on everyday and avoided painful sunburns. I did manage, even with my SPF 45, to get a little tan, too.

* Also, for babies, be sure to take hats and if you can find them, UVA/ UVB protectant swim clothes. Retailers make little swim shirts for boys and girls to wear in the water that protect their delicate skin from the worst of the sun's rays. Here is a version that Target carries.

* For swimming, a swim floatie for Hadley was so helpful. She could sit in her floatie to play and well, float, and she loved the independence she had. It also gave Sean and I little breaks from holding her in the water.

* I was so happy that I remembered to take a bottle brush with me to wash Hadley's bottles. The second day we were there, my brother used it to wash a grill pan. I learned that I could wash her bottles by hand just as easily and my brother learned what a bottle brush is.

* The one thing I could not have lived without on our trip (and would not have wanted to purchase) was our camera. Memories are fleeting but our pictures will last forever.


Cassie said...

We have yet to go on a vacation with our little guy, and it all really does just seem overwhelming! Packing him for daycare every day is stressful enough! But we when ARE brave enough to travel a great distance with him, I think your tips will really help. I never would have thought to ask the hotel if they had pack 'n plays available!

I hope the do-over sleep training is going well! I can understand how it would be hard to stick with it -- who wants to be stuck in a hotel room at 7:30 on vacation, watching a baby sleep?

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