Sunday, January 25, 2015

Traveling with your mini! Some tried-and-true tips from a traveling mom!

As y’all know, my husband and I travel quite a bit. We always have, and upon getting pregnant, set a lofty (and I say “lofty” now because I did not realize its “loftiness” at the time) goal to not let having kids stop us from our jetset adventures. I know, I know so many of you more “experienced” moms are sitting there probably laughing at me right now. And I get it, I do.

Traveling with a baby is pretty much guaranteed to add a bit of additional stress to your trip (okay, a lot of additional stress) and maybe an extra bag (or two and a checked car seat and your carry-on will now become a giant diaper bag) So yes, it is rough. However, travel is important to our little family. It’s just something we prioritize--no matter what it takes. I mean, I love a new piece of wall art or some good designer jeans as much as the next person, but above all those luxuries, my husband and I value experiences, memories, and adventure. We truly love seeing the world--and we want to share that joy with our children. Whether it takes extra budgeting, driving a more “average” car, or having a less fancy house--we’ll do it, because it’s something we value. And of course--I’m not saying that’s the way to be--it’s just our way to be. Different strokes for different folks, ya know?
That being said, I’d like to now share what I’ve learned (because it’s tried, tested--and I always appreciate advice from people I can trust, so I feel obligated to pass on what I’ve learned--and none of this is sponsored and is 100% me being true to you!)
Mila’s first flight was at 6 weeks (some people obviously think that is too early, but it was by-far our easiest flight with her and it went as smooth as could be) Flying while they are still in that “newborn phase” is fairly simple because chances are they will sleep a lot and they are still so light and easy to carry around. It a six month period, she has taken a total of 6 flights. I’ve tried some different techniques and suggestion. Some are winners and some are big losers.

Here’s my WIN/LOSE list!
WIN: For ear pressure, have your babe suck on a binky or bottle during take-off and landing (or you can breastfeed if you don’t want to do either of those) I breastfeed my baby, but I really do not like breastfeeding on planes. It’s cramped, hot, and usually you have a stranger sitting on at least one side of you. Overall, I just find it uncomfortable. But if you’re okay with it, that works too! And the minute you feel your ears get uncomfortable as the plane starts to lower (which is usually a while before the pilot actually “announces” it) I would recommend having them suck on something right away. If you feel pressure, they do to!

LOSE: A lot of people recommended
“EarPlanes” for babies. We had a stewardess come up to us during a flight as we were forcing a paci into M’s mouth, and tell us that we were doing it the “hard way” and needed to get these supposedly magic, never-failing ear plugs for babies. Sounded to good to be true, right? So we tried them and let’s just say, it was a complete disaster. They didn’t work and she ended up screaming for the last ten minutes of the flight. I know a lot of people that swear by them, but we are not those people. We stick with the old fashioned “suck” method.

Num Num Rice Cracker/Biscuits are a daily favorite for my babe, and they are definitely a plane ride MUST. Mainly they’re just a great distraction. They keep her busy for a while and are not super messy. They come packaged nicely, so I just keep a few packages in my diaper bag at all times.

LOSE: Baby Food--I try to avoid it on planes. It generally is just too messy, but if it’s a long enough flight then you probably can’t avoid it. I’d just recommend using the baby food pouches. Mila really likes these
Plum Organic Pouches. She still manages to make a pretty big mess though. It’s impressive. Take a couple bibs as well.
WIN: Always carry an extra onesie/outfit and a changing mat with you onto a plane. I’m guessing you already do if you have a diaper bag, but it seems that my daughter knows when the worst possible times are to have diaper blowouts and 2-3 of those have been on flights!
LOSE: I have been on two connecting flights with Mila---both much smaller planes, that did not have changing tables. I didn’t know that was even allowed, but it has happened to me twice unfortunately. You may have to get creative in these situations. And really, it just sucks to have to change babies in airplanes--even with a changing table, but you can’t really avoid it. I haven’t found a great way to do it yet, it’s just cramped and hot and gross every time. Disinfecting wipes all the way!

WIN: Sophie the Giraffe chew toy. Doesn’t bounce, roll, make loud noises and is easily washed.

LOSE: Any toy that rolls, bounces or makes loud annoying sounds (a little bit of noise is okay, but I always TRY to be courteous to the people around me and not bring her obnoxious toys--and trust me, she has a lot of the obnoxious ones even though I always swore I wouldn't buy into it all. Hey, when all is said and done, it's just about keep that babe happy and healthy. And if that means light up musical toys, fine.)

WIN: Other products that I will not get on a plane without include: hand sanitizer (I literally have one that’s connected to my diaper bag), extra wipes (I have run out on a plane before), a few different small toys (just keep them entertained), an iPad (some of you may be against technology use at a young age, but now that Mila is 6 months I have some apps that really help keep her entertained for a while on a plane.
”Art Of Glow” is a favorite--very entertaining for her!), these munchkin wipes (to clean toys/pacificers and anything else that may drop on the floor) and the breathable swaddle blankets (all of ours are from aden + anais).

LOSE: It is really easy to overpack in these situations. You get stressed and just start packing everything you can find. My suggestion is to take some extra time to really think about what you will use and not use. Overpacking/overfilling your diaper bag is only going to make the experience more stressful. Organize your bag. Things you are going to need to be able to grab using one hand while carrying a baby in the other in a cramped space surrounded by strangers need to be easily accessible (eeeeeeek--just thinking about it kinda makes my anxiety rise) but don’t over do it!

A couple other quick "wins" I wanted to mention...

Be courteous to those around you. Apologize if you need to, but in those stressful moments of crying babes, high altitudes and zero arm room...just focus on you and that babe. Don't worry about the strangers around you and for a people pleaser like myself, this is so much harder than it seems, but it is the key! They will be fine. Just take some deep breaths and figure out what your little angel needs. Those other people will get over it. I've been given the stink eyes and have had "innocent" advice given to me as we exit the plane...but for the most part, people have always been understanding and kind.

Next--wardrobe. This goes for both you and the babe. I never know whether a plane is going to be too cold or too hot. I would recommend bringing a layer (even in the summer) for both you and your mini. If it's cold, layer on. If it's hot, take it off. It's always a good idea, because our temperature issues are different every time!

Last but not least--HAVE FUN! Take pictures, document the experience--because even if it's a rough one, you can laugh later and think about the good times. These moments are so priceless. They're only this little once!

So there you have it folks. My list of wins/loses. Again, these may not all be "wins" for you, but I'd LOVE to hear what your successes have been! We plan on continuing the travel--and we're always up to try new smart suggestions.

Love y'all!