Traveling with a wee one

“Wee one” = something I’d never say in real life, but I like typing it. Kinda like “y’all” 😉

Thank you so much for all of your awesome comments on my last post. I always love to hear about your experiences, because everyone is different and different things work for different families. Goes to show that if you have a “plan” and it doesn’t turn out the way you’d like it to, you get creative and find the best option. I’ve had to roll with the punches and am just thankful we found something that worked for us.

Speaking of plans, we’ve been wanting to go to Italy for quite a while. Usually Tom ends up deploying, TDY or we’ve had to move, so we’ve waited it out for the best time to go. It will be our 5 year anniversary this fall, and we thought it might happen this year (and it still could, but might be delayed). When I got pregnant, I pictured myself toting our baby in the Ergo in the Italian countryside. I laugh at my pregnant self sometimes 😉 Now that I see all of gear, logistics and planning it takes to get to the grocery store, let alone another country, it makes me do a double-take.

pack n play

I don’t think it’s impossible to do it, but with Livi at this age (she’d be 7 months when we were thinking of going), the question is: would it still be fun/worth it? Or should we just wait until she’s a little older and can enjoy it with us, or old enough to stay with her grandparents without me having an anxiety attack? They would take amazing care of her, but I miss her when I go to the gym for an hour, so right now, I can’t imagine an entire week away from her.

5062_image_file Source

We want to be able to travel with Livi and take her to fun places with us, but are going to start small and plan a roadtrip to Phoenix in an upcoming weekend. It will be a good chance to practice packing up her gear, staying in a hotel, her first time sleeping overnight in the pack n’ play –usually it’s a nap spot- and pumping, bottling, etc. away from home. It’s only 2 hours away, but far enough to enjoy a mini vacay together. This summer we’re renting a condo in California for a week or so, so by then I’m hoping that getting everything together will be NBD.

What are your tips for traveling with a baby?

Anyone that traveled internationally with their baby at a young age?

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  1. Kristen on March 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

    My daughter was a month old when we drove across the country the first time. A month later we PCS’d and did another 12 hour road trip. It was surprisingly easy At that age she still slept a lot. We switchedbdriving and sitting out back with her, stopped every 2 – 3 hours to change, feed and just snuggle with her for a bit. We had everything we needed (to include cleaning supplies just in case she got sick) easily accessible in the back seat.

    When she was 7 months old she went on her first plane ride. She had just learned to crawl and hated being restricted after discovering her mobility, so I was concerned she wouldn’t sit still long enough. She did really well though. I had plenty of toys and snacks. She enjoyed people watching and took a nice long nap. She would not take a pacifier, so I gave her a bottle to help with her ears.

    My daughter is now 19 months and it is way more difficult traveling with her now. Definitely take advantage of it while your little one is smaller!

  2. Jody on March 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    As someone who recently returned from a babymoon in Italy (trying now, not pregnant yet!), I would say to wait and go when you feel comfortable leaving Olivia alone with the grandparents. I’m sure it can be done, but if you truly want to relax and soak Italy in, I think it would be better with the two of you. Its a once in a lifetime trip! Or at least it was for us as we don’t have the resources to take big trips very often.

    My husband and I were there for 10 days and it still wasn’t enough time. There was so much to see and do and a TON of walking and logistics. We were exhausted and it was just the two of us! Other things that are different there are the lack of elevators, public restrooms, bathtubs (the showers are tiny), and late dinners (first seatings at 7pm for dinner, most restaurants are closed from 3 or 4 until 7). These are all in the fun of traveling for us and we love experiencing different cultures and ways of life, but I do think a baby would add some extra challenges. Not to mention all of the “gear” that you would need to bring and hauling that in the airports and train stations!

  3. Maria on March 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I don’t have any kids so I don’t know that if I’m really in a place to say anything, but if it were me, I would want to experience a vacation like that just with my husband. Especially because you guys have spent a lot of time apart with deployments & TDYs and new parents, especially younger couples, need to spend time together just the two of you. Traveling to Europe is so much different than just traveling within the United States. My husband and I have been wanting to plan a trip to Ireland for a while and now we have a baby on the way, so we know it won’t be happening within the next year. We’re planning to go for his 30th birthday (if everything goes as planned) and by then baby will be almost 2 and my mother already volunteered to babysit.

  4. Life's a Bowl on March 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I don’t have a “wee-one” to worry about but we’re thinking of going to Italy in September for our honeymoon! It’s supposed to be beautiful at that time of year… DO IT! You never know when the next opportunity will arise when you can go 🙂

  5. Irene on March 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Hmm, I don’t have kids either, so I’m hesitant to give my opinion, but I’d wait until you can leave Livi with the grandparents for a European trip. I agree with others who have said its one thing to bring a baby to the beach where everything is so chill, but totally different to bring one to Europe. It would be fine, but I think you’d really miss out a lot on seeing the cities with a baby. If you go to Italy, you’ll want to go to at least three cities which means packing up and moving hotels several time (Please don’t go all that way and just stay in Florence the whole time!!) You’ll want to go to museums (not a good place for crying babies) and you’ll want to wear gorgeous European fashions without your kid puking on them. I just don’t think you’d have the experience you’ve been hoping for 5 years for if you take Livi this fall. I’d plan a different kind of vacation if you’ve got the time and money- something adventurous but more flexible. Hawaii would be good! And save Italy for a year from now.

  6. Jenny @ simply be me on March 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    We’ve only ever traveled to visit family, which is across the country with a four-hour time difference, but it was definitely nice to have stuff (pack & play, stroller, diapers, etc.) waiting for us on the other side so we didn’t have to pack so much. Personally, I would want a trip like that to be just me and my husband but it’s really up to you. If you plan to take her regardless of when you go (now or in a couple of years) then before she is 2 is a good choice only because she gets to fly for free 🙂

  7. Brigid on March 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I’m not a parent, but I went on two high school trips to Europe, which included one of the teacher’s little babies. They did great. It probably helped that there were so many teenagers ready to hold and feed them when needed, but they seriously were awesome little travelers. I think the main thing is knowing your limits. You probably cannot tackle as much each day with a baby, but if you take things slow and know how to arrange your schedule each day, I bet it would be a great experience for all of you.

    And I have been to Italy four times (and even lived there for six months). It is my favorite place in the world! I’m happy to give advice and recommendations for your trip. 🙂

  8. Heather Eats Almond Butter on March 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Gina, we had a great time traveling around MI with an 8-month old this past summer. It was a 10 car drive there, and after a couple of weeks, we went farther north and then had a 13 hour car ride home. Plus we took both dogs, and honestly, it wasn’t bad. Although, our little one loves riding in the car and so that helped! Yes, traveling with a wee one required a bit more thought and planning, but hiking and walking around with baby in Ergo was much more fun than it was work, and we’re so glad we went. Of course, we had the car with a cargo carrier atop, and so that made packing a bit easier – we had more room than you’d have packing for an airplane. So, maybe Italy isn’t in the cards for this year, but I definitely think you’ll be fine on the shorter trips you have planned. Ours was never a fan of sleeping in the Pac-N-Play, and we bought this PeaPod for trips: She loves it, and it’s so compact when all packed up. Plus, we take it over to Nonna’s house if she’s ever over there during nap time. Love the PeaPod! We actually put the little mattress that comes with it inside the tent rather than zipped into the bottom and put a fitted jersey sheet over it. Very comfy. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      awesome, thank you, friend! checking out the pea pod now 🙂

      • April on March 31, 2012 at 4:24 am

        We also have the pea pod, and didn’t travel with it, but we used to use it for the beach. My kiddo wasn’t a big fan, though. Too bad, because it is so easy to carry and super cute! Totally worth checking out!

  9. Liz on March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I visited Italy last year with my boyfriend, and the friends’ we stayed with had a baby boy, Tyler, who was exactly 7 months old at the time! We stayed in Vicenza, Italy for about a week (at our friends’ place), then we took a ferry to Greece as a group, then ferried to southern Italy, and roadtripped back up to Vicenza, making stops in a different city every night. In total, I think we were away from their home for 1.5 weeks. Tyler had his moments (especially when he was teething) but overall, did wonderfully. His parents traveled a lot before they had him, so they didn’t want to stop their road trips and small getaways. While I was there, I found Italians absolutely LOVE babies; they will smile and say “bellissimo” (or “bellissima” for your cute daughter) every chance they get!

    I think it was probably easier for my friends since they had their car (they’re currently stationed in Italy), but they always had their stroller and a baby bjorn handy. That way, Tyler could be in his stroller, or if that was going to be too bulky, then my friends would carry him in the bjorn. Depending on where you go, a lot of cities in Italy have cobblestone streets or narrow alleys/walkways (Venice is a perfect example), so a stroller would be difficult.

    We dined out a lot, and if Tyler got fussy, one of the four of us would simply get up and walk around for a bit with him, and he would quiet down, especially if there were any pigeons around. That boy loves birds! 😛 It really wasn’t too bad, but it is definitely more difficult traveling with a baby than without. For sure! The only downside with having a baby in some restaurants is that some charge a “baby gratuity” for when they think a baby/child is being messy and they’ll add on a mandatory fee to your bill.

    Sorry this is so long, but hopefully it helps. Please let me know if you want to know anything more specific!

  10. malia on March 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    We just did a Europe trip with our 5 month old and I think it’s totally doable. We toted her around in her stroller and when she got tired of that, we put her in our Pognae (the Korean version of the Ergo).

    I think it’s about managing expectations and massaging your trip details a bit – for example, you may not be able to wait in long lines and go on every single tour, but you learn to switch it up. We would do a big attraction like Houses of Parliament in London and then hang in a grassy area for a half an hour. We’d switch off from doing more crazy things to slower paced so she could relax and eat at ease. I loved being outside in the countryside best, because you can nurse whenever or wherever you want without worrying about logistics. I think I enjoyed traveling more with our little girl, sure, we couldn’t do what we did before we had her, but I loved seeing her take in everything.

    Have fun!

  11. Michelle on March 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Living in Europe right now and having an infant, I’d say it all depends on how she does in a stroller. At the age Avery is now, she’s crawling a lot and standing and wanting to move everywhere all the time. But I’m the type of mom that doesn’t want to put her down to crawl on a gross public floor so things can get miserable pretty quickly. But in the stroller, she’s alright for a good portion of the time. We just bring our infant carrier to change things up for her when she gets antsy in the stroller.

    The plane ride here from Tucson with a baby…well, that might be a different story. 😉

  12. Ush on March 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I went to Italy a couple years ago and loved it! I don’t have a baby, but I imagine if you had one, you’d have to take the trip slower than you would with just the two of you. We were there for 9 days and covered 5 cities, you might have to give yourself more time and go to fewer cities. We took trains between the cities which probably wouldn’t be bad with a baby since you would be able to get up and walk around.

    We walked an enormous amount, on a lot of cobblestone streets (bad for strollers?), and loved going up hundreds of stairs to the tops of all the cathedrals. I personally enjoyed being outside and walking around more than museums (I’m not a museum person) and there was plenty to do and see so I can see how you’d be fine with a baby. Most museums have the option of calling ahead and purchasing tickets to skip lines which I did and would recommend either with or without babies. Most museums also had outside areas and courtyards which might be helpful with kids. The Vatican, however, is really crowded and is basically one long line so I don’t know if that would go well with a baby. There were a lot of crowded narrow areas and you’d just be moving slowly with the crowd with no outs.

    One thing to keep in mind if you go with Olivia, the bathrooms are, in general, awful! They’re significantly worse than the bathrooms in the other European countries I’ve been to. A lot of them are not that clean, have squat toilets, and I even went into a couple of timed ones (toilet flushes after a specific time, then water and soap comes on, then hand dryer and then door unlocks!)

  13. mary on March 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I took a 9 month old to Hawaii but it was easier because we were staying with family and weren’t all GO GO GO. She slept on the 4 flights, excepting one rough, vomity take-off.

    If you want to kick back on veranda while Livi naps, it might be fine. If you’re more GO GO GO, it might be hard, given naps.

    I took a 7 day cruise with sisters and I missed my daughter too much to have a lot of fun, but maybe it was the company.

  14. TanyaS on March 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    The Hetta Hoo blog has some awesome tips on flights with a baby. She’s done Germany to US a couple times.

  15. jenny on March 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    It probably depends on the baby and how well they adjust to change and sleeping environment. My babies always did really bad sleeping in a hotel. They would scream and no one would get any sleep and then everyone would be cranky the next day:-( My brother and family almost got thrown out of a hotel bc their baby wouldn’t stop crying. You also have to consider the time change of another country may throw her way off. Oh, and my oldest is almost 5 and I haven’t got to the point where I could leave him at granny’s for a week yet, so good luck with that;-)

  16. April on March 31, 2012 at 4:16 am

    I’ve got two stories:
    1. We moved from Florida to Hawaii when Seba was 6 months old. We made a 12-hour road trip first to visit my family, though. It was exhausting, but we were also under a lot of stress trying to find a place to live and get our car situation figured out since we knew no one on the island. The flight itself was no big deal, especially since he fell asleep almost immediately once I put a boob in his mouth 🙂 And we obviously had tons of luggage, but we survived.
    2. This past summer, Seba was 16 months, and we accompanied my husband to a conference in the Galapagos. And we went from there to Ecuador’s mainland, and then to Chile to visit my in-laws and to introduce Seba to the family for the first time. He was walking, talking, and eating more, and sleeping a little less, but there is absolutely no way we’d ever travel without him. I’d hate to think of the things he would have missed out on (and all the cute pictures I wouldn’t have been able to take!). We wanted to be those fearless parents that just throw the kid in a carrier and go. It’s a little more complicated than that, I’ll admit, but we just took a couple things to keep him busy and all systems were a go! It was a long trip with lots of strange sleeping arrangements, and some scary, crowded buses, but his curiosity kept him from getting too stir-crazy.
    You’ll still be able to wear Olivia, and I definitely think traveling with a younger baby as opposed to a toddler is much easier. And on our flights, we only got a nasty look one time, but several people actually offered to walk with Seba up and down the aisles of the plane. Plus, at least for me, it would be a lot easier to travel and enjoy the trip when you’re not constantly worrying about how your baby is doing back home.

  17. Chelsea M on March 31, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I don’t have kids but I know you need to be prepared to travel with one! My coworker brought her 9 month old to the Caymen Islands and didn’t buy him a plane ticket since he was on her lap. However he did need a passport! They spent half the vacation in Florida getting a passport photo and waiting for a super-expedited passport!! Crazy but good to know

  18. Sarah T on April 3, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Hi Gina,

    I’m running a couple of days behind on my reader but I saw this post and thought you should check out Project: Baby blog.

    Kristin has a 9 month old little girl and she and her husband have just spent about a month in France. This might help you get some good ideas about traveling with a baby and I’m sure Kristin could answer any questions you have!

    • Fitnessista on April 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      awesome, thank you!

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