I know I've been disconnected for far too long and for that I sincerely apologize... I wouldn't want for you to think I no longer wish to share our little adventures with you. Between an extended winter vacation to Dominican Republic, birthdays and a Valentines getaway, it seems I can't seem to catch my breath, but we are back and I promise you we'll have enough momentum to keep you coming back.
A few close friends of mine have reached out to me recently to ask for some traveling advice considering I've been vacationing with my little Lola since she was four months old so, I decided to dedicate this post to sharing some jetsetting tips with a little taste of our recent trip to Santo Domingo.
My best advice for traveling with children, no matter the age, is to try and rid yourself from the panic that comes with the idea in the first place... take the leap and just do it! Just keep in mind that no matter how well you prepare, it will be whatever it will be. Yes, there are little things that will make your travel more comfortable (and that alone can add some comfort), but know that you cannot control the unexpected. Now I can go on and on about traveling with a child, but I'll just list what I consider a must do:
Try and book strategic flights depending on your little one's sleep routine. In the past, night flights or red eyes have worked best for us because Sofia slept through the entire or most of the flight. I know budget may play a role in this but you might find that opting for peace of mind trumps a few extra dollars.
Invest (or borrow) a lightweight stroller and practice closing it and storing it in its travel bag. You definitely don't want to deal with the excess weight (and extra work) throughout your trip. We were definitely those parents in the jetway, steps from the plane door trying to figure out how to fit our full-size stroller into its respective bag while holding our four-month-old, baby bag, carry-on, purse and a travel pillow (EACH). I am not lying when I say that we earned a round of applause from the crew (and strangers) when we finally figured it out. Who would have thought the wheels had to come off?!
Back-pack it and free up those arms. Trust me, you will need them... A LOT! I think I tried three different shoulder bags in the first few trips and by trip #4, I finally understood that a back-pack was definitely the way to go.
If you are renting a car, add the car seat option. If you've chosen to travel with a baby on your lap, you've probably opted to leave the car seat behind, but if you are exploring your destination by car, adding a car seat to the rental can provide some peace of mind as far as the safety of your child is concerned.
Get to the airport early. If before baby you planned to arrive at the airport as close to boarding time as you possibly could, those days have come to an end. Remember, you want to prepare for the unforeseen (and take advantage of the perks). Some airlines offer bassinets on a first-come basis so if you are lapping a child, these can be a total lifesaver. Like brownie points for good behavior, arriving early might possibly land you next to an empty seat so you can free-up those legs and enjoy the ride. Most importantly, an early arrival can allow a less stressful security check (especially if you prefer not to have the baby's milk undergo x-ray inspection), indulging in more appetizing fare and the opportunity for a diaper change in a non-flying vehicle. Which brings me to my last tip...
Prepare for non-baby-friendly restrooms. Warning: it requires much versatility and dexterity. We might complain about the need for more changing tables in some of our favorite stores or restaurants but nothing beats traveling outside the U.S. to appreciate what we do have available. Just imagine yourself sitting in a particularly small closet, on a toilet, with baby laying across your lap, elbows touching the walls on either side of you, baby moving about, and a very dirty diaper. Catch my drift?
I know that first-time travel (or family travel in general) can be a particularly daunting thought but I know you can make it happen. As hard as it might be, try and focus on the memories you will be making, the laughs that will come from the inexperience of this actual experience and live it up.