My Travel Tips and Baby + Toddler Travel Tips
Ever since Daniel and I met back at the dawn of 2014, we've pretty much constantly traveled. And it's been such a happy, exciting, exhilarating, exhausting, amazing privilege and dream come true! When you do something, not just once or twice, but in repetition - over and over again - you tend to work out the kinks, figure out what works and what doesn't work so well, and fall into a rhythm. It's definitely been a learning curve and since travel tips (in general and with kiddos) is one of my most-asked questions from you guys, I thought I'd put together a big post full of what I've learned!
A note: keep in mind that these tips are helpful for all types of travel, but they are specifically geared toward longer, international travel "adventure" style trips and they are based on/coming from my recent experience of taking long, adventurous (meaning, moving around a lot, lots of sight-seeing, not a ton of "relaxing", full of hotel rooms, Uber rides, train trips, flights, bus rides, walking days, taxi rides, etc -- as opposed to, say: a weekend at Disneyland or a cruise or a four-hour drive to a week in one Yosemite cabin) trips with my husband and baby/toddler.
General Travel Tips I've Learned
- Getting Deals and Traveling on a Budget: I am often asked if we have tips on traveling and how we can travel so much as a young family. We've been super blessed to be able to take the trips we've taken, and we are so grateful for every single experience we've had together -- it's been so worth the hard-earned money, effort, sacrifice work, preparation, and time we've poured into it. Here are a few of our travel budgeting tips:
- When searching online for flight deals, go "incognito" so that the website cannot track your cookies. I read this tip on a travel blog once and always remember it! Apparently websites raise their prices the longer you hang out on their site and search (we've actually noticed experienced this a few times!) and if you go "incognito" they won't be able to track you as you search.
- Save Money by eating your main meal at lunch time instead of dinner. A young family on an airplane once told us this and I've always remembered it! If you eat your big meal in the middle of the day or afternoon, restaurant prices are usually cheaper. Also, share several items off the menu instead of ordering a 2-course meal for each person.
- My Tip For How To Find Cheap Flights and Deals? Are ya ready for my super secret gem of advice?? Okay, here it is: spend HALF YOUR LIFE SEARCHING ONLINE. Haha! 90% of the time, we find super good deals and rarely pay full price! And literally, I have learned in the last few years that the key to finding great travel deals is to just spend hours researching. I'm not a natural researcher/detail person (I'm more of a visionary who has a million ideas and plans and thoughts, but it's harder for me to get disciplined and do "all the steps" so it's been a growing experience for me to learn how to love researching and invest the time in it. When you see fruit come from those hours of focused research for your family, it's all worth it!) For our flights to Europe, we found super-deals on Norwegian Air and Primera Air (shout-out to our sister in law for finding and sharing that one) and the flights have been anything but fancy. Yet, they've been decent and fine. Timing is everything when finding cheap flights and hotels and vacation packages -- time of year, the amount of time you book before (there are times when booking a year in advance scores you a golden deal, and sometimes waiting until a week before can score you a hotel's last nice room they're trying to get rid of for a cheaper price.) Also, you've got to be willing to have the attitude of "something's gotta give" and know that "you get what you pay for." Seriously, when you are booking cheap hotel deals and cheap flights, sometimes you find a luxurious gem for less! But sometimes, you get what you pay for, and that is not a five-star, first-class treatment. You've got to be willing to make things work, be okay with simple, pack less, be uncomfortable for a bit, sit in a seat with limited leg room, cram into a small rental car or tiny hotel room, etc. if you want to have the experience of a lifetime! (For instance, when we stayed in London last month, I booked a decent hotel room in a super nice and very central/safe/convenient area for a good price, but the trade off was: the hotel room was a shoebox, basically a bed! It would've been nicer to have a 2-room sprawling space, but we were not willing to pay for that. So, we made the tiny space work. We were out most of the days and we sacrificed the space in order to save money, and it worked out fine for our situation and type of trip.)
- Some websites and apps I search to find travel deals:
- Hotel Tonight App
- Air B n B
- Cheap-O Air
- Google Flights
I'm not super comfortable (and mostly, not comfortable taking my baby) into situations that are not super safe and very clean, so we always stay in 3-4 star hotels (at least) in upper-end areas that are centrally located (space issues don't matter much to me.) BUT, we rarely ever pay over $100-$150 per night on a hotel room. How do I find them? By doing the footwork and search, search, searching online. Also? It sometimes pays to wait until the last minute. For instance, as we drove to Grindelwald, Switzerland on our trip a few weeks ago, we decided to "fly by the seat of our pants" and wing it on where we'd stay, praying we'd find something fabulous. I spent 3 hours (fighting super sketchy service) on my phone, looking for a last-minute deal on a great place. I happened to find a gorgeous, lovely, huge suite/apartment with a large bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, dining area, living room with a pull-out bed if needed, entry area and closet for storing bags, with 2 balconies with flower boxes that overlooked waterfalls, a river, the alps, rolling hills and cows in the coziest Swiss chalet, for about $150. When we arrived, it was in the perfect and absolutely central, gorgeous dream location, 4/5 stars, the hosts were darling and kind, it was perfectly clean and quiet and fit our needs exactly and for the time of year, quality, and location, was a good deal (that area and this type of apartment normally runs for about $300+ that time of year.) All of that to say, sometimes booking last minute pays off and you are happily surprised with a gem! I always use the app Hotel Tonight, and score last-second deals there often when traveling.
- Take Photos of Travel Documents and Upload Them To a Locked Website: Dropbox is great for this! That way, if you lose printed versions or even your devices (of course, that would be the worst case scenario!) you can access from any computer or device with Internet access, anywhere. Passport, IDs, ticket numbers, hotel and transportation reservations, etc. I love to do this as a back-up and it helps give me peace of mind, especially for international trips to non-English speaking countries.
- Use Compression Storage Bags When Packing: We first used these on our first 10-day Europe trip last year and fell in love! They're especially helpful if you are packing puffy clothing. I picked ours up at our local Marshall's but here are some similar ones. Another helpful tool for packing light and staying organized is to use packing cubes like these!
- Take Photos of Your Bags Before You Leave. If your luggage is lost, the airline will ask you to fill out paperwork to reclaim and find it, and usually they will ask for detailed descriptions and photos. We've lost a few small carry-on items over our travels, and when the airline asked for photos and we didn't have photos of them to give exact descriptions, they were not able to track them down and we weren't able to get them back.
- In Europe, don't get caught in tourist trap shops and grocery stores! Tiny stores in tourist areas charge top dollar for basics and necessities like water bottles, diapers, and food. Plan ahead and find an Aldi's or regular grocery store and stop there at the start of your time in a place and stock up on everything you'll need before going to your destination (this isn't always possible unless you are freely driving your own rental car... one of the perks of renting a car, especially when traveling with little ones.)
Our One-Month-In-Europe Traveling Roadshow
- Do Not Overpack: I may be the greatest offender of overpacking in the history of my generation, I'll admit it! Packing light is something I'm working heartily on and I've seen success and joy come from my simplifying each time we take a trip in the past year. The more things you have, the more responsibility you have. I recently read a quote that said, "If you can't carry your own luggage, you've packed too much." (That hits a little too close to home haha!) Some tips on packing light:
- Know that you can usually buy things you might need at your destination (for instance, I'm the type of person who naturally wants to pack winter gloves on a trip to England in late May just in case I need them (hey, I might get cold! ;) But, I resisted this last time because it was highly likely that I'd need them and if there was some random cold front, I could easily pick them up at a store in England.
- Pre-plan outfits and create a miniature "capsule wardrobe" for your trip, finding items that work well together in various outfit options. For our recent month in Europe, most of the places we stayed have washers and dryers, and I purposefully included this in my must-haves for the trip lodging! A tool I use to help me do this is the app "Stylebook" - it’s a few dollars on the App Store, and it’s a super helpful tool to organize your wardrobe, for home or for travel. I’ve been using it since I started simplifying and creating a core/capsule wardrobe back at the start of 2018, and it’s a tool I use and really have found helpful. You can upload pictures of each item in your wardrobe and from there create looks you can reference. This is especially helpful on the road as you can purposefully only pack exactly what you need, create the “looks” on the app, and then when you’re in the middle of getting ready for the day, you can simply reference your “looks” and quickly choose the outfit you wanna rock! (Not sponsored, just an app I genuinely love and use! I’ll share more about it soon here when I talk about how I’ve finally organized my mess of a wardrobe... work still in progress there ;)
- Keep shoe-wear simple. Shoes are heavy and weight adds up (potentially costing you more money in nasty luggage fees and hurting your back and making your life harder, especially if you are going to multiple destinations and you are on an "adventure" type trip -- as opposed to a one-location trip.)
- Roll clothing. I've done this since my dad showed me how when he took a big 3-week missions trip across Europe when I was 13! It truly does save space and helps clothing to be less wrinkly when you arrive.
- Put a Bit of Plastic Wrap Over Your Liquid Bottles (Shampoo, Conditioner, Etc) So They Don't Leak
- Pack Earrings in a Pill Organizer: I love this hack! I saw it on Pinterest years ago and always do it -- it's such a simple way to keep both earrings (of course, earrings that are small enough to fit; I put hoops and other longer, dangly ones in a jewelry bag I have or small Ziploc baggies.)
- Print Your Travel Documents: Don't rely on your smartphone or devices! I always print out your itinerary, every reservation, and all important info (including lodging addresses, rental car bookings, and contact phone numbers) just in case you need it.
- Bring a Basic First-Aid Kit: Always helpful to have bandaids, Neosporin, antacid tablets, Advil, etc. on hand in case of an unfortunate random headache or paper-cut!
- Create a Travel Itinerary and Plan: Research everything you can and take lots of notes (we are so blessed with the Internet these days to learn from those who are experts and from the experience of others!)
- Do Your Research But Be Flexible: Daniel and I tend to naturally want to "fly by the seat of our pants" (as I make lists and also need to know basic plans along the way ;) Researching your destination thoroughly is important, we have found. Reading reviews on comfort, location, and safety is important, and planning itineraries around your little one's naptime, eating time, etc is vital. And yet, keeping a flexible attitude is, as well. Things change when you're traveling and it's vital to be open to the schedule or plan changing once you arrive and "see it in person."
- For International Travel, find out and write down the emergency phone number for the countries/areas you are visiting. Write down where the nearest hospital is to the places you are staying (I've only really started doing this since traveling pregnant and with a little one.) Also, always know where the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate is. Helps to have peace of mind and be in the know.
- Get a Gel Manicure. I know, I know, it is a small, silly thing! But, if your nails stay polished and aren't chipping two days into your trip, it's just a nice little luxury and one less thing to deal with as you travel! (Of course, be aware that gem manis do a number on your nails, so it's a trade-off. I've gotten gel manis and pedis for all our longer trips, but in my effort in this season to get my hair and nails healthy again after a rough postpartum the last few years, for this trip I painted my nails with Essie Polish and Gel Setter on top which is more gel-like and lasts longer than regular polish and top coat.
- Build Up Your Immunity Before Traveling. Cut back on sugar, up your water intake, drink orange juice daily, drink lemon water, cook with lots of fresh garlic, don't skip meals, get daily sunshine, try and get some exercise and enough sleep, make homemade smoothies full of things like spinach and oranges, drink Kombucha and Kefer (hello probiotics!), take your vitamins, take a vitamin C supplement, use immunity-building essential oils, etc -- you know the drill! But seriously, I've honestly come home very sick on every.single.trip we've ever taken (ask Daniel!) but this time? I tried harder to be mindful of building up my health before and during the trip. Of course, I could have done better (it's stressful getting ready for a month on the road and so I definitely could have exercised much more and let's face it, I downed Taco Bell the night before the trip) but I did consistently try to consider my health on the trip and for the first time ever, I arrived home perfectly healthy and all of us stayed healthy the entire trip. Such a blessing!
- Stay Mindful of Germs! Keep hand sanitizer within reach (I always had one hooked onto the outside of my diaper bag backpack -- you can buy little holders with straps at Target) use Thieves Oil (Young Living brand) daily (seriously, I made a roller and used it morning, noon, and night every day before and during the trip, and I believe it made a huge difference! I also made Thieves spray bottles and sprayed every hotel/apartment room bed, bathroom, kitchen we stayed in and every airplane and most transportation we used.) I also always carry a little bag of Clorox or Lysol wipes in my diaper bag/carry on and keep them handy. Yep, I'm the crazy mama who's wiping down the airplane seats, tray tables, handles, and more and spraying it all with a nice thick layer of Thieves!
- International Driving Permits are valid for one year from the date of issue. We got ours at AAA! We have rented cars on International trips to England, Ireland, France, and Switzerland, and have never had an issue.
- Take Pictures of Signs at Restaurant Signs, Places You Went, Etc. This way, when you get home and download all your trip pictures and beloved memories, you will know exactly what the cafe is called where you sipped the yummiest espresso of your life in France or which beach you fell in love with in Maui! Always helpful in preserving memories, passing travel tips along to friends and followers, and adding to your "let's-go-back-someday" bucket lists. To remember where you were exactly, what you ate, what town you stopped in and adored — take photos! Snap a quick picture of the restaurant sign, etc. Then, as you’re going back through photos and making photo albums or sharing Instagram and blog posts about the trip, you’ll be able to remember and pass the info along to friends! (Take notes on your iPhone, as well, if you have the time and phone battery left ;)
Use A Travel Money Belt: You guys, I totally wore this on our last trip -- I know, I know. I felt slightly dorky and looked about 4 months pregnant haha, but it was so nice to have our passports, travel docs, etc. right there ready to go! I bought this one. I really do recommend it for intense travel days!
- Think Smarter, Time is Money. We are just now learning this in our lives! ;) Don't drive hours out of your way to save a few dollars or walk a mile to save a few bucks. Work smarter, not harder!
- Dress Comfortably (See My Long-Flight Go-To Outfit Below) But Wear Your Heaviest Items: Unless luggage amount and fees aren't an issue for you, most of us are always doing that balancing "dance" of packing enough while not overpacking as to avoid lugging around too much weight as well as nasty airport fees. Wearing your heaviest items helps lighten your suitcase load (for instance, I wear my rain boots whenever I bring them on a trip.) As a rule of thumb, try to dress as comfortably as possible! But, sometimes comfort is trumped by economy, and that's where this concept comes in. Just remember, it's not a fashion show, it's just a flight! (Of course, there are those times when you dress your best on a flight - Daniel and I took a just-us-two trip from LA to Denver last December and each packed a small carry-on and, for the fun of it, decided to dress up like "they" did in the 1950's - it was such fun!
Of course, a 6-hour, overseas, red-eye with a one year old? Classy flying dress-up is not gonna happen for this mama haha) These suggestions are for longer trips, based on our weeks-long Europe travel-with-a-toddler experiences.
What I Wear On A Long Flight
- Backpack I've taken just about every type of purse, diaper bag, and every kind of impractical bag on flights these past few years, so let me be your guinea pig and believe me when I say that I have found: a backpack is best! Leaving your hands free to tend to your little one(s) is essential! This is the backpack I brought to Europe (it served as my carry on, diaper bag, purse, etc.!) and I love it (more on that below.)
- Water Bottle: Bring it through security empty and fill it up before boarding your flight. I usually grab Starbucks before boarding and order a free Venti Ice Water and pour it into my S'well, and some airports (at least in big cities) these days have water fountains with filtered water that are specifically for filling up bottles. (These S'well bottles are amaaaaazing. I bought one half-price on sale at Christmastime and have taken it on a few trips. It keeps things cold and hot for hours!) Water bottles are SO expensive to buy in airport, so bringing your own bottle and filling it up with free filtered water is a money-saver, especially on long trips.
- Soft Tee: This tee is the coziest and I wear it all the time! I've found there are moments or times when I feel too-warm on a flight (even though it's usually cold), so it's helpful to wear something soft and light underneath all the layers.
- Puffy Coat: If you're going somewhere cooler, wear your puffy jacket and it will not only save space in your luggage but also doubles as a folded, makeshift pillow if you're not wearing it.
- Scarf or Pashmina: Ever since I started traveling internationally as a teen, I've wrapped a light pashmina or scarf around my neck on flights. It doubles as a light blanket, folded-up pillow... without being too stifling! Tie it onto your bag or backpack if you're tired of wearing it, and when you arrive at your destination, it can be used as a bathing suit cover up, window covering at a too-bright hotel room, etc. So many uses for a light scarf! I'm bringing this one on our spring Europe trip.
- Cozy Socks: I always, always, always bring a pair of cozy socks like these in my carry-on! Usually, I don't wear sandals on airplanes. If you do, it's essential to bring socks for your trip through the TSA line, you do not want to go barefoot through that line! When it comes to footwear on flights, this is my rule: wear your bulkiest shoes and save the space/weight in your luggage. For each trip, that looks different. For a long flight to Europe, that means Uggs or Hunter boots for me. For a jaunt over to Hawaii from LA, that usually means a pair of Converse. Practicality and comfort over style on flights, ladies! That's really the name of the game.
- Joggers: Even though leggings are the name of this mama's game, I lately wear joggers on long flights. They're softer and looser, which equals more comfort. They also have pockets which is helpful for random items that need storing like your iPhone or your little one's toy or socks or snack!
- Shoes: Not pictured in my little collage because, well, on long flights when your goal is to keep your luggage weight to a minimum, I always wear the heaviest shoes I am bringing on the trip. On our three trips to Europe together, that's meant wearing my Hunter Rain Boots.... and honestly, they are probably the least comfy shoe you can board a flight wearing, but the moment we settle into our seats, my boots come right off and my cozy thick socks go on, so it's not too bad -- and worth it when it rains on one of your precious adventure days!
Carry-On Items I Always Pack
- Hand Sanitizer: A must-use! I always get the travel types that hook onto your bag so they're easily accessible.
- Portable Power Bank for Phone: These are invaluable for travel. I can't tell you how many times they've saved our lives on the road!
- Travel Pillow: Honestly, with a little traveler in tow, we haven't had space to bring extras like these! Baby blankies and strollers kinda take priority ;) But, if you can swing it, a travel pillow can make all the difference on a flight!
- Travel Toothbrush
- Lip Balm (my favorite!)
- Travel Blanket: I bought one in an airport and it's been lovely on long flights! (Although, this is my dream one!! Also, you guys. Confession moment...I just need to get this off my chest, for anyone who thinks I ever have it all together all the time based on social media photos. The most ridiculous and impractical thing I've brought with me on a flight is a queen-sized bed blanket. Yes, you read that right. A QUEEN SIZED BED BLANKET. It was completely huge, needed it's own extra seat in my row, and everyone stared at me -- in the airport and on the airplane. And I did not care lol. Let's just say: mama was dealin' with a postpartum rough patch and in those kinds of moments, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. But I do not recommend it. Haha. Also, let it be known and said: my husband is simultaneously a rockstar and a saint for putting up with my craziness and not only never complaining but actually never batting an eye! He sure does love his idealistic wife, very well.)
- Hair Scrunchies: (Keep that hair crease-free!)
- Sleep Mask: Again, not toddler-mama friendly haha! But, usually helpful to have on hand. How luxurious is this one?!
- A Good Playlist and Book (on Kindle)
- Essential Oils: While pregnant with Weston, we took a flight from LA to Houston for Thanksgiving with family, and sniffing lemon oil mid-flight saved my nauseous life! This trip, I made roller bottles and little spray bottles of Lavender -- the magical sleep oil that works wonders with my little one, "Joy", Thieves, Peppermint, and lots of hormone and emotional support oils that have supported me sooo much!
- Snacks in a Small Lunch Bag: You can bring most (non-liquid) foods on a plane, and it's so much healthier and cheaper to bring your own snacks for a flight than to buy overpriced and prepackaged airport or plane snacks. I often load up a little lunch bag with cheese sticks, apple slices, hummus and carrots, strawberries, bananas, crackers, chips, mixed nuts, snack bars, and apple sauce pouches (for Weston!)
- Phone/iPad: and all cords/chargers. I usually keep my chargers in a specific clear pouch in my bag so they're easy to find.
- Basic Makeup Items: Including a refreshing rose water spray
baby and toddler travel tips
In Weston's 24 months of life, he's taken 31 flights. At 3 months old, we took him on his first plane ride, down to Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma to see my husband's side of the family! Since that trip, we've traveled non-stop with our boy and he is truly the happiest, most adaptable, best little traveler of all time! Of course there are challenges when you're traveling with a little one (mostly lots of thinking through, planning ahead, and extra work along the way) but it's oh so worth it. Our little family has been so blessed by taking Weston with us on trips, having adventures and amazing experiences, and making memories that will last a lifetime. Travel with your kids, if you can. Take them with you! It's such fun.
Some of the things I've learned traveling with a baby and now a toddler:
- Carefully Plan Ahead to eliminate things that could go wrong. Even though it's totally worth it in getting to your destination and having adventures of a lifetime, hours of flying can be rough on little ones (and their parents!) already: being out of your routine and schedule, possibly missing naps, jet lag and new foods, people and experiences can be overwhelming for the most adaptable child. I've found that doing everything in my power to eliminate things that could potentially go wrong is so helpful. Book non-stop flights if you can instead of connecting flights.
- Prepare Your Little To Get Excited! Obviously, this is for toddlers and older kids. But, even for little ones, you can talk to them and share things with them about airplanes, flying, suit cases, travel, and all the things they will love about your destination! Before our trip to England, France, and Switzerland last month, I bought a few baby lit books for Weston ("Peter Pan", "Heidi", "Paddington Bear", and "Pride and Prejudice" and others) and we talked all about London, France, and Switzerland -- the animals they have there and some of the famous sights. We also watched some shows (Peppa Pig and Mickey Mouse both have London and Paris episodes!) and I made a big deal about the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Windsor Castle, and other historic and recognizable landmarks. My mom also bought Weston some board art books that are just swoon-worthy!
- For International Flights, Be Aware of Infant Flight Fees. We've discovered that for most US flights, your baby under 2 years old flies completely free as a "lap child." But, most of the international flights we've taken with Weston (they've all been when he was younger than 2) there have been small fees added on, so just know that you'll need to add that into your travel budget.
- Before boarding, ask if you are traveling on a full flight -- sometimes they will let you take your car seat on the plane if seats beside yours happen to be vacant!
- Pack Lots of Snacks: We've diverted many meltdown moments with a bag of goldfish or handful of animal crackers.
- Download A Few Favorite TV Shows on Your iPad or iPhone before the flight. We all have our family boundaries for screen time, but for flights (especially long, international ones), our family lets screen time rules slide a bit, for survival's sake! Make sure to download shows, songs, and games while at home on fast WiFi on your device and be ready to roll with that on-flight kiddo entertainment. It helps a lot and just see it as fun, rare treat for them to have extended screen time that day -- 'cause, let's face it, travel days = survival mode!
- Wear Baby/Toddler in an Sling or Ergo: Babywearing is a must. You can wear your baby through security and it makes life so much easier. Our Ergo 360 has been a lifesaver during flying and travel. Wearing Weston on all our trips, and especially flying days, has absolutely been one of the most practical, easy, helpful things we've done when it comes to traveling with him. You can wear them through security which is just so much easier! Our little guy was almost two on our last trip to Europe a few weeks ago, and Daniel was still able to wear him in our Ergo on his back -- worked great and he loved riding on "Dad's back!" This is the Ergo we use. For tiny babies, a Soothe Shirt is so nice for keeping baby close.
- When you're seated on the flight, use seat-back pockets for essentials you know you’ll need and want handy throughout the flight: diaper, wipes, diaper pad, hand wipes, hand sanitizer. Don’t forget to take them out when you get off the plane though!
- Check the stroller and car seat at the gate. This way, you'll have them while you're waiting to board the plane and right away when you get off the plane. Strollers are perfect for loading down with extra stuff. (Get stroller and car seat bags to keep items safe, as well.)
- Bring Clorox wipes in a baggie and wipe down everything on the plane before you sit down: the seats, the trays, etc. Lots of people get on and off planes in one day and there isn't time for the crew to disinfect everything! (Also, a friend told me her pediatrician said to not open air vents above your seat when traveling with a small baby.)
- Feed your baby their bottle or nurse (or give them their paci) during take-off and landing. Moving their jaw helps so much with ears popping and pain.
- Pack extra clothes for baby and mama. For baby, I always add in an extra clean onesie, a pair of weather-appropriate jammies, an extra pair of socks. For mama (mostly when traveling with tiny babies), bring an extra top, just in case of spit-up incidents!
- Make sure your hotels are refundable. especially with kids and on long trips, plans can change. Trust me, it's worth it to pay a little extra for travel insurance and refundable hotels.
- Bring a White Noise Machine. We've tried several travel sound machines since our first trip with Weston, but this is the one I've landed on that we adore. We use it in every hotel room and Air B n B. I know every baby is different, but I truly believe using this consistently since our guy was born is one of the reasons he's slept 10-12 hours nightly (except for rare occasions) since he was born, and even on trips!
- Be Flexible! Keep your hopes high and expectations low -- roll with the punches and try to smile through the rough patches. I am someone who is highly sensitive, super emotional, loves my comfort zone and routine, and so travel days in general are out of my realm of "comfort" -- but, even I can say that traveling, in general and with kids, is worth it and also? When you get to your destination and you start experience those once-in-a-lifetime moments, the memories of a screaming baby on the airplane, a stinky, hot and packed subway ride, or carrying a heavy backpack through a crowded customs line will fade and in the future, the highlight moments and memories will be what stands out and lasts in your heart and mind. So, push through the hard parts ... the rewards will pay off big time soon and the bad parts will fade! (Kind of like pregnancy, actually haha!)
- This blog post is actually full of lots of some good tips from a blogger who travels a ton with her kiddos.
- My Travel Diaper Bag: My #1 pick currently is The Honest Company's "City" Bag! It's our current diaper bag and the one we took to Europe -- it was the best one we've ever used while traveling and it was perfect (passing the "one month traveling through Europe" test says quite a lot!) It is faux leather, is large but not too-big or heavy, it has pouches in front that are perfect for smaller items (pacis, lip balm, hand wipes, etc), a padded sleeve for electronics, a zipper that goes around the back for easy access which was super helpful as we traveled, and my favorite part? One of the front pouches is insulated so has the ability to keep bottles and snacks cold which is just amazing! (And this is NOT some sponsored shout-out -- I'm just sharing a diaper bag I finally love after trying a handful of them over the last two years #newmomlife :)
- Don't Be Too Nervous. When we first started traveling with West, I was so nervous that other passengers would be annoyed with us and rude to us. But, I can happily and gratefully say that in all our 31 flights with our baby boy, I've only once encountered a rude fellow passenger. Most people are full of understanding and grace. Traveling much with a baby has - beautifully - taught me this. Most people are good people. (But, I gotta be honest: that one time was pretty brutal. A high-power lady lawyer insisted on sitting beside us on a three-hour flight to Houston. As she settled in beside me, she looked down at us and said, "Oh gosh. I hope your baby doesn't cry." Full on Mama Bear Mode kicked in on this gal, and I replied (through gritted teeth) "Uhhh, well, babies cry... so....." The lady proceeded to engage us in an unwelcome and rather argumentative political banter for the entire duration of the painful flight, combined with unsolicited advice on parenting: why I should be breastfeeding and not formula feeding, why our baby was dressed in too little clothes and would most-likely catch cold, why we shouldn't start solids at this early age, and why we should not be baby wearing. Literally, it was that bad. So bad that the flight attendant spontaneously brought me a free Mimosa without me even asking - she simply brought it to me with a look of "I'm so sorry" and then walked away -- ha! Post-flight, we disembarked the airplane and someone threw up on Daniel's foot. So that was a fun one. But... I have to say! Other than that, we've experienced nothing but kindness and grace with fellow passengers. Most people are kind. And, what a relief that is a fact! (And funnily enough: I looked the lawyer lady up on Google after our memorable flight together and found that she is a professor and writer of a handful of the most significant law textbooks around. Welp, I'm glad her audacity and sass sure got her places, so that's nice to know! lol) I can't even count how many times someone on a flight has been kind to us and made me well up with exhausted, thankful tears. It's actually stunning and precious to me, how kind people can be... at the perfect moment. Never in all my days or musings on our past adventures will I forget our flight home from New York City to Los Angeles in October of 2017. Our boy, a 18-month-old bundle of pent-up energy combined with several weeks on the road and a 6 hour flight .... was ready to get home. He was a tired little thing and needing to get those wiggles out and get back to all his toys! On the last leg of our flight home, he started "losing it" for the first time, really, ever in our travels. A very well-dressed young man sat behind us, and he looked so serious and sophisticated the entire flight that I actually hoped our little one's whimpers and screams wouldn't cause him to say something rude? You can imagine my shock when the man silently slipped a tiny plastic toy airplane through the seats, with a smile and a nod. Weston became enamored with the little airplane for a good 15 minutes. When he became distracted again and started to scream, the man passed through a little NYC-themed book that, once again, captured our boy's attention for a chunk of time. He continued to pass little shiny baby toys and random baby-proof items through the slot in our seats, silently smiling each time.... he bought us a good hour and as we made our decent into the lights of Los Angeles, I, through misty eyes, thanked him. He quietly said he had a baby boy of the same age at home, how his little family travels often, how he completely understood what "it's like", and he remarked on how well our little guy did on such a long flight. I'll never forget those types of kind-strangers that so wonderfully step in and change our most vulnerable travel moments for the good, and they inspire me to want to be that kind stranger in the future.
My Baby/Toddler Packing List
- Baby's Passport
- Foldable Stroller
- Stroller Hooks for hanging bags.
- Pack N Play or Travel Crib (Optional, depending on your trip and lodging; most hotels and Air B n B's will provide one for you, or a small crib, upon request, and if there's a fee it is usually worth not having to haul one with you!)
- Ergo or Sling Carrier
- Car Seat and Cover
- Plastic Baggies for diapers, wet clothes, etc.
- Toys and Books. A few favorites and some new ones to capture little one's interest.
- Nursing Cover, Pump,
- Bottle Brush and Mini Drying Rack
- Travel Bottle Soap
- Sippy Cups
- Travel Bibs
- Baby Food + Snacks + Pouches
- Disposable Placemats
- Inflatable Bathtub
- Small Cooler for milk and snacks (for you and the littles!)
- Diaper Cream and Coconut Oil. I get the Trader Joe's Coconut Oil packets -- they are SO convenient and I use them for everything: baby care, makeup remover for mama, moisturizer!
- Mini First-Aid Kit, thermometer, Nose Frida, baby pain killer in case of a teething moment or unexpected sickness.
- Favorite Body Wash and Shampoo
- Hat and Baby Sunscreen
- Baby Essential Oils
- 2 Outfits Per Day of Travel
- Favorite Blanket and Swaddles
- Light and Heavy Jackets depending on destination!
- White Onesies
- White Noise Machine
“Sometimes people ask me why I travel so much, and specifically why we travel with Henry so often. I think they think it’s easier to keep the kids at home, in their routines, surrounded by their stuff. It is. But we travel because it’s there. Because Capri exists and Kenya exists and Tel Aviv exists, and I want to taste every bite of it. We travel because I want my kids to learn, as I learned, that there are a million ways to live, a million ways to eat, a million ways to dress and speak and view the world. I want them to know that “our way” isn’t the right way, but just one way, that children all over the world, no matter how different they seem, are just like the children in our neighborhood—they love to play, to discover, to learn. I want my kids to learn firsthand and up close that different isn’t bad, but instead that different is exciting and wonderful and worth taking the time to understand. I want them to see themselves as bit players in a huge, sweeping, beautiful play, not as the main characters in the drama of our living room. I want my kids to taste and smell and experience the biggest possible world, because every bite of it, every taste and texture and flavor, is delicious.”
― Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes
I hope that in all my travel thoughts, tips, and ramblings you can find a few gems that are helpful to you, wherever you are in your story!
Traveling the world is a gift and a joy but it's not the only way to have adventures. Let's look for the adventure in each and every gift of a day we are given. Life is so beautiful.
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