At a mere two months old, my little precious smiled his way to his first passport. Our first trip abroad was scheduled to visit friends and explore a tulip covered Amsterdam in spring. It wasn’t to be. On April 26th, Scandinavian Airlines pilots decide to go on strike. We were due to leave on the 30th. Looking into alternate options, it was clear that neither other airlines nor different means of travel were possibilities.
Both were extremely expensive and would not be reimbursed. Also, there’s no way I’m going to take my baby on a two day journey with several stops on a train ride more expensive than airfare and then back again for a visit that’s only three days to begin with. I’ve much to say on the subject of being climate conscious, and limiting air travel, but will leave that for another post. Suffice it to say however, I will not stop using air travel as a means to explore the world.
A globetrotter at heart, I absolutely love the art of traveling and all that it entails. Friends are scattered all over the globe and my heart is at home beyond that of my birthplace. Instilling love of culture, geography, history and all the subjects of learning travel entails, is a pertinent part of what I want to do as a mother guiding my son on his earthly journey. The thrilling ride of getting to know people in foreign lands is exhilarating and there is no better, more all encompassing, education.
I’m tickled to get started traveling the world with my son who soaks in his environment like no other. That which he will not remember at this young age will be documented. And the most important is just for him to get used to the lifestyle anyway. I’m not going to be one to put traveling on hold because of his young age and most certainly not because there are inconveniences in traveling with a baby. On the contrary, the challenge spurs me.
As an event/program manager by trade, attention-to-detail is my middle name. While I enjoy spontaneity in travel, being prepared simplifies and leaves more room for exploration at the destination. When traveling with a child, this is even more crucial. In looking over the preparations for our trip to Amsterdam that was cancelled, I put together my top 20 recommendations for the planning stages of traveling with a baby. From a single mama traveling with her plus one, I hope it can help a mama or two out there:
- Pack all the essentials in your hand luggage (e.g. swimwear, first aid-kit, diaper bag)
- Make sure that your Insurance is updated, card valid and info is in an easily accessible place with your hand luggage
- Look up and save the emergency number of the country/countries you’re going to on your phone
- Have at least one ICE (in case of emergency) contact saved on your phone
- Check mobile service alternatives and potential charges and fees for the destination and make necessary changes to mobile plan prior to leaving, e.g. turn off roaming
- Prepare for no mobile data or wifi by saving Google Maps directions offline and store maps/areas by using “Offline Areas”. Need more info, google it! 😉
- Research local transportation – ways to pay, most convenient/affordable card for your stay. If available for purchase online, it’s nice to have that in hand upon arrival
- Order an airport shuttle or print-screen the local transportation route from airport to hotel – check to ensure that traveling with a stroller is possible for chosen option
- Inform the hotel that you are traveling with a baby and ask for a crib, extra pillows or whatever other needs you may have. I bed-share so I asked for extra pillows and a king size bed
- Bring a travel stroller or travel cover for the stroller you use at home (check airline measurement standards for carry-on luggage or to check in strollers)
- Bring a baby carrier as an added option and in the event a checked-in stroller be damaged
- Check the weather forecast and regardless, ensure you have a blanket and rain cover for the stroller (and depending on the country, a mosquito net)
- Bring a first aid kit fitting for adult and child (mine contains all natural remedies like essential oils and herbs but to each his own) – summer or winter, always bring sunscreen (and make sure to pack a sun hat with neck guard), mosquito spray, topical gel ointment (and band aids), disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer, sleep aid, an antacid or substance with equivalent effect for stomach issues
- Bring light toys and string – to ensure safe keeping, attach to the stroller bars for example
- Look through your diaper bag to ensure only the essentials are packed and add enough diapers and wipes for the length of your stay to save on the hassle while traveling (finding the right store with the correct brand, etc)
- Research non-stop transportation options for day trips (including entry fees where applicable) to eliminate the hassles with complicated, non-baby friendly and time consuming itineraries
- Look up recommendations on local eateries, from locals, including options for take away. That way you have the flexibility to bring it to the hotel if it’s late or enjoy it in a park or other area you want to discover.
- Check in online at the earliest possible time allotted for your airline to ensure an early check-in number (the last to check in are the first to get kicked off in the event of over bookings, etc)
- At the airport counter, ask for pre-boarding to get settled with baby before everyone else gets on; inquire whether the first row of your section is available as it’s usually allotted to those with an accompanying baby
- Come prepared for relieving ear pressure. If not breastfeeding, prepare a bottle beforehand or have a pacifier on hand as the sucking motion will release the pressure changes that are the worst during takeoff and initial descent (typically most noticeable as much as a half an hour or more before landing, depending on a flight’s cruising altitude (the higher up, the earlier the descent)