We are coming up on Bergen’s first birthday, which also marks one year of being parents, and one year of traveling with a baby! From cars, to ferry boats, to planes, and trains we have continued our adventures now as family of three. Considering we are still out gallivanting, shows that we’ve figured out a few things about the whole traveling with a baby gig (or maybe we are just a little nutty), but that’s not to say it has been smooth sailing for every trip. We’ve definitely had our missteps. The adventure, beautiful sights, chance to see family and friends, and all the other benefits of travel has kept us going though.
Here are 6 of our travel mistakes that will hopefully help you as you plan your journeys with kids in tow.
1. Don’t ignore time changes and don’t get the baby up too early. When Bergen was 3 months old, for Thanksgiving we traveled to my sister’s house via a flight to Atlanta, then a drive to her home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Like typical babies, Bergen was still waking up in the night at the time. When he woke to eat at 7:00 Atlanta time on our first morning on the east coast, it was really 4:00 in the morning for him. Instead of putting him back in his crib to sleep a couple more hours, we packed up the rental car, and started our journey to Charlotte. Big mistake. He didn’t catch up on sleep in the car, and was so overtired and overstimulated by the end of the day, that we could barely calm him, let alone get him to sleep. Make sure you factor in time changes, and pay attention to the total amount of sleep your baby is logging.
2. Don’t travel without backup food (or don’t be forgetful). At 4 months, we happily hopped on a quick flight to the bay area for Christmas. Bergen was exclusively nursing, though I would also pump milk so others (and me) could feed him milk in a bottle. You work so hard pump, and I especially did so for the flight home as B hated to nurse on the plane (too hot? too crowded? too distracted?). What did I do? I left the milk in my sister-in-law’s refrigerator in Oakland. Whoops. Luckily we could still try to nurse, and it was a short flight, but still. I didn’t bring formula as a back-up, which would have been a good idea. FYI, they don’t sell formula anywhere in SFO. We checked.
3. Don’t arrive at your destination too late. Sometimes this cannot be avoided as you don’t always tons of flight time options, and time changes can be tricky. However, if you can avoid getting to your destination too late in the evening, do it. When Bergen was 6 months old, we flew to Washington, D.C., and didn’t arrive until about 10:00 at night. We still had to gather our bags, grab the rental car, and drive another 45 minutes to our family friend’s home. Bergen was NOT a happy camper. He screamed the entire way. Not so easy to navigate the George Washington Parkway under those circumstances. It’s also not so fun to introduce an exhausted, cranky baby to friends for the first time. To top it off, we hadn’t had much to eat, a whole other mistake in itself. Looking back, we should have either taken an earlier flight, or booked a hotel close to the airport for just that night.
4. Don’t forget about the temperature the baby will be sleeping in. As we all know, babies are sensitive to the cold and heat, and they can really easily get uncomfortable. They are relying on us to help them out, and regulate their little bodies. I didn’t think this through on a trip to the Phoenix area when Bergen was about 7 months old. I thought, “It’s Phoenix! It will be hot, hot, hot. Light pajamas and a light sleep sack will be just what he needs.” Wrong. It gets chilly at night in the spring time, and everyone (including my mother-in-law) relies on open windows and doors to cool down the house from the hot daytime temperatures. Bergen was waking up every 2 hours at night! This may not have been all because he was cold, but it was definitely one of the reasons. I failed to bring along warmer sleeping gear, so it was off to Goodwill for some impromptu shopping. We made this mistake again on our trip to Colorado. On one of the nights, we stayed up in the mountains in Evergreen, and failed to locate the thermostat. Poor little guy was freezing. Once we found it and started pumping warm air into his room, he was nice and cozy, and back to dreamland.
5. Don’t bring a stroller if you really won’t use or need it. We were in the Denver area for Memorial Day weekend visiting friends and family. We brought along our Baby Jogger City Mini since it easily folds up into it’s own storage bag. We carted that puppy around in our rental car from Aurora to Stapleton to Golden to Evergreen and back to Aurora, and never even took it out of it’s bag. Between the ergo and bjorn, we just never needed it. Since that trip, we’ve thought twice about packing a stroller as it can be a waste of space and money if it doesn’t get used. I didn’t miss it on our trip to New York last month, or even our road trip to Hayden Lake last week. It’s best to think through the activities you have planned, and determine what you’ll really need.
6. Don’t board the plane too soon. Bergen is an active little guy, and that’s putting it mildly. He likes to move. A lap baby he is not. It’s nice of the airlines to allow families with small children to board first, and we did this the first few times we flew with Bergen. Then we realized we were stuck on board waiting for everyone else to find their seats. No more! We now try to board close to the end in order to give Bergen as much active time as possible before he is confined to tight quarters of an airplane. If all three of us are traveling together (luckily, this is most of the time), Slaed will board first to get things situated.
I know this is by no means an exhausted list, and I also know it is not the end of our travel mishaps in general, and with a little one. We’ll keep living and learning though. In the meantime, I want to hear your stories. Share your travel don’ts in our comment section!
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