This time last year, I was flying home on a plane with my baby and battling food poisoning – alone. I had a few recommendations about flying with an infant. This year, after a successful trip with my 14 month old, I have more advice about travelling with a baby; not just about flying, but about planning for a trip away as a whole!
Do Not Go Alone
If you’re going to take any advice from me, please let this be the number one recommendation you walk away with. Travelling with a baby is hard, so please don’t do it by yourself! I traveled with my father and stayed with family. My girl was surrounded by loved ones, and I had a ton of support for when things got a little tough. Even the simple task of checking baggage at the airport can be stressful when you are juggling a baby, ID, money, and your bags. It’s also a serious gift to be able to switch out and take a break from a fussy child when you’re ready to pull your own hair out. It is important, however, to be mindful of who you are travelling and staying with. If you are flying or crossing the boarder without your child’s other guardian (unless of course you are the only guardian), it’s not uncommon for authorities to request a written letter of consent (from whichever parent isn’t present) to travel and stay with whomever you are visiting. Be prepared for this, because it can really suck to get caught without this consent. The Government of Canada website has a form you can fill out which will auto-generate a letter that is acceptable.
Let Go Of Expectations
I went into this vacation thinking that because I am a routine person, I wouldn’t have any problems maintaining my baby’s nap and meal schedules. Sadly, this was not the case. When you’re on vacation, you’re very likely not going to be sitting around watching the clock. You can plan around your babe’s routines, but even then – things come up. Dinner might be served late, you might get lost on a quick walk around the area, or you might decide to stay at the beach a little longer. Whatever it may be, something will always interfere with your expectations; it’s a lot simpler if you just loosen them up a bit. Your baby will be fine – they are quite resilient and more adaptable than you think. That’s not to say there will be no issues; definitely plan for some interrupted sleep and some bouts of crankiness. Just remember – change is tough for all of us, so we can’t really expect our babies to handle it like champs. The key is to let go of some of your expectations and be willing to meet your baby where they’re at.
Plan For Homesickness
Being homesick has always been an issue for me when I’m away, so I feel like a bit of a doorknob for not expecting the same from my own flesh and blood. A lot of my girl’s crankiness could have been chalked up to missing her routines. Unfortunately, it took me a few days to realize that she might be missing not only her routine, but also her Dad and life at home in general. If you’re going to be taking a trip without someone who is special to your baby, plan to make regular contact with that person. Video calls play a big role in our family, who happen to be spread out across a couple different provinces. They’ve helped everyone stay connected during social distancing, and they can be very useful when you are away from loved ones on vacation. Even if your baby just babbles and throws toys at the screen, it still helps them feel connected! And honestly, as silly as it may sound, acknowledging the fact that my girl was missing her Daddy and telling her it was okay made a big difference. Babies understand a lot more than we assume!
As we all know, babies come with a lot of gear. When travelling, we have to consider a stroller, a crib (portable or otherwise), a high chair, and a car seat. We also need to think about food, toys, clothing, diapers, etc. Just imagine the packing list you would make for your baby alone. Huge, right? Now imagine how expensive it would be to fly all of that stuff out to wherever you’re going. Most airlines don’t allow any free baggage to be checked anymore, so not only are you going to have to figure out a way to lug all of this stuff to wherever you’re staying, but you’re going to have a hefty baggage bill. After all of that, you’re going to need ample space to set all of this stuff up. So, yeah; travelling with a baby is going to have to involve some planning ahead! I was lucky in the sense that the family members we were visiting were well-prepared. They have friends with grand-kids, and they are also avid garage sale shoppers. They were able to find a stroller, car seat, high chair, and a portable crib for next to nothing. I got lucky – sometimes when travelling this isn’t always an easy thing to do. There are rental services that will bring a car seat out to the airport for you so you can get your baby safely to your destination. After that, utilize friends and family with kids, and check out buy and sell groups in the area. With proper planning, you can get everything you need without having to sell your first born.
My first experience travelling with my baby was incredibly stressful. I planned for everything, except for shit to hit the fan. Thankfully, I am able to learn from my mistakes – my last trip with my baby girl was much more enjoyable. To any families planning on travelling with their little ones, just remember – they are human, and so are you. Things aren’t going to be perfect, but with a little planning and a lot of patience, everyone can have a great time.