Planes, Trains, and Automobiles…..well, that was an adventure. And by adventure, I mean truly, honestly, the most wild ride I’ve been on to date. Its been about 3 weeks since our homecoming to Kuala Lumpur from our month long trip stateside and I think we are all finally back on KL time & back into a (new) routine.
Let me just say this, our little lady is quite the trooper! For 1 solid month between the ages of 11 weeks to 15 weeks Ava accomplished the following flight plan: flew from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong and spent 3 days exploring the beautiful city. Then flew from Hong Kong to Vancouver, BC and then on to Seattle, WA where she spent 6 days meeting various family & friends. She then flew from Seattle, WA to Phoenix, AZ where she spent 8 days meeting more family & friends, complete with a 3 hour car ride day trip to/from Tucson, AZ. She then flew from Phoenix, AZ to Indianapolis, IN to meet more friends, with her final flights being from Indianapolis, IN to Chicago, IL then Chicago, IL to Hong Kong with a quick overnight and finally from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia….and all within 30 days. Whew. What an absolute whirlwind!!
We are of course well seasoned travels but novice parents so understandably we were both a bit nervous as to how the whole thing would pan out. I think I was a bit more nervous than David, maybe due my mommy hormones but in any case, I packed everything I thought of that I could need or want during the trip. I asked my mommy friends for advice here in KL & I even went online to my mommy Facebook page: Ask the Chicks, and asked advice on what to pack, how to entertain, etc. from other seasoned travelers with babes around the globe. We also made sure to purchase the bulkhead seats which included a bassinet for Ava on the long haul flights to/from the USA. What a lifesaver that was! I am just so pleased with the results of all my preparation.
I think the hardest hurdle to get over was the jet lag.staggering 15 hr time difference affects us adults massively so I wasn’t sure how miss A would handle it all. Luckily, she took only 2 days to adjust upon arrival to the USA but for some reason the transition back to KL time was really hard on her- about 1 week for normalcy to return fully. All things considered, I was impressed with her ability to adapt. On top of the time difference, we had her sleep in 5 different cots throughout the journey in 6 different bedrooms, in addition to 4 different airplane bassinets too!! Can you imagine how confusing that was for her? All of her surroundings and smells and textures were different, and yet she faintly batted an eye at the changes. As long as mommy & daddy were with her, she was good to go. Love our little go-with-the-flow lady :).
I was told and now can concur that traveling with an infant at this stage of the game (2-4 months), is the easiest way to go! I can’t speak from experience on traveling with a toddler or anything, but I can say that having her immobile (although she rolled over for the first time a few days after turning 3 months while on holiday!!), and being exclusively breastfed, helped us keep our sanity intact tremendously!
I also think that our (David & I) biggest hurdle was learning how to pack and transport A LOT more items than we typically would as 2 well seasoned travelers. I’ve always been somewhat of an “overpacker” but have learned through the international travel years to pair down. We got ourselves into quite the groove and can zip in & out of customs, airports, hotels and more without batting an eye. Well my friends, all that has changed- LOL. Luckily, we were up for the challenge and although I learned quite a few lessons for how to do it better next time, I also did quite a darn good job for a first-time mommy traveler as well!
So there you have it, our 1st time travel tales with an infant. Here are my lists, tips, and tricks that I would like to pass along to other parents traveling with an infant….internationally and stateside!
What to pack as your carry-ons:
- Diaper Bag (you may want to use your typical diaper bag or even change to a backpack, whatever is easiest for you)
- Rolling carry-on suitcase
- A roomy purse to contain wallet, passports, electronics, etc.
- Wear a baby carrier (Bjorn, Ergo, etc)
What to check in:
- Suitcases for You & Spouse (2 max)
- Suitcase for baby
- Stroller & Car Seat (If 2 adults are traveling, then each traveler gets one of each free, so both should be free if 2 adults are traveling).
- Pack & Play (if you are staying with family/friends that don’t have one. If you are staying in a hotel, almost all will have one for use)
- Pack within a suitcase your Breast-pump (unless needed on plane for a preemie or other extenuating circumstance).
What to Pack in the Carry-on bags:
- 2 gallon-size ziplock bags and 2 quart-size ziplock bags, for soiled clothes
- Diapers- figure 1 per every 2 hours (just to be safe), for flights & layovers. So for my 26 hr journey, I packed 15 diapers, erring on side of caution.
- Baby wipes- both for bum & face/body
- Diaper rash cream, travel diaper trash bags, disposable changing pad covers
- baby lotion (their skin gets sooooo dry & a nice soother is a mini baby massage!)
- Burb clothes: 5-6 for long journeys, 2 for shorter ones. Here is where I under packed. At least for my little gal, she seemed to spit up more on the flights- not sure if it was because of the difference in air pressure but I brought 4 in my diaper bag, wishing I had 2 more….
- Extra baby clothes: for longer international flights- 3 extra outfits (think comfy and easy to change; nothing fancy & something that is also comfy for them to sleep in). For shorts domestic flights, 1 or 2 extras is fine.
- 2 pairs baby socks, it can get chilly and depending on where you are going, a cap is also nice for their little head.
- Swaddle blanket for baby’s sleeping on the plane, etc.
- Extra blanket to put on floor or in bassinet for baby to stay germ-free while on airplane and also in airport
- 1 favorite toy from home that they love & 1 new toy to discover
- Pacifiers (if using) and/or teething toy, to keep their mouths busy when bored.
- small & portable sound machine, battery operated (or download the baby app- Sound Sleepers, for your IPhone/IPad, we can’t live w/o it!)
- Hand Sanitizer
- Nursing Cover (i.e.- “hooter hider”)
- Extra clothes for you & spouse- 2 changes each. 1 change each should suffice (in the event of spit up or being pooped/pee’d on, plus an additional change in the event your luggage gets lost upon arrival). Remember nursing tanks/bras if you are nursing, and on that note, don’t forget nursing pads too!
- IPad for movie watching and/or Kindle or books/magazines. Also pack your own headphones if desired.
- Toothbrush, deodorant, etc…..toiletries that will make you feel “refreshed”!
- Whatever else you would normally pack in your carry-on :).
What to pack in your checked luggage for baby:
- OK this is where it gets a bit tricky. Depending on what kind of climate you are traveling to, how many destinations you are heading to, how many days/nights you will be gone, and what type of accommodations you are staying in, there is a ton of variance here. My advice is to pack enough for 1 week for the baby, that way if you don’t have access to do laundry every couple days, you at least have enough to get you through a week (that is, if you are going for longer than a week). Think about what your baby wears at home and how many outfits she cycles through daily and you can guesstimate what she would need for the week. Layering is key (same as for you!). So are accessories like socks, hats (beach or snow caps), and little jackets they can wear over either short sleeve or long sleeve onesies. Leggings and a few dresses are nice too (if you have a little gal like me!) :).
What to wear en route:
- You: If you a re in the nursing stage, I highly recommend wearing (& packing an extra), nursing tank tops. They are super comfy and when paired with leggings or yoga pants & a cardigan, a perfect way to lounge around for 20+ hours- LOL! If you are not nursing, again, stick with your most comfy lounging outfits!!
- Spouse: Hopefully they are smart enough to pick something out on their own….haha.
- Baby: onesie and leggings- repeat, repeat, & repeat.
Entertainment & Transportation:
- Transporting & Entertaining an infant can be easy at times, but also exhausting as well :). Remember, this is all coming from an experience I had with my little lady from 11-15 weeks old. We began by checking our car seat but lugging the stroller through the airport along with the bjorn. She was never really in the stroller, rather it was used to cart luggage around. After that initial leg, we decided that we would rather check the stroller moving forward. I think that when she gets a bit older, I will probably want the stroller through the airport but this time, the bjorn worked perfectly. There is also a lot of waiting around in airports so I suggest a blanket to lay down on the grimy floor (remember what side has been down) and let her kick around and get some energy out before being couped up on an airplane and in a bassinet for hours on end. Also, taking her favorite toy from home was key and when that got boring for her, a new toy was a perfect distraction! Sometimes when she was awake and not wanting to be in her bassinet, we would sit her on our laps and let her “watch” a movie along with us on our iPad. Really just think about whats been working for you thus far, as well as whats going to be easy and convenient for you to grab and go!
One final note, my friend Meagan turned me on to this awesome little baby travel log book called Simply for Flying. A gal out of Germany makes them & we bought one for Ava and you just have the pilot fill it out on each flight- such a great memory of her travels!
So thats it folks! I’d love to hear from you….what works and what doesn’t…..I know its always a work in progress & love any help I can get for next time….after all, it DOES take a village to raise a child!! Oh yes, and don’t forget to BREATHE. It WILL be ok and if your baby cries, its ok. Don’t worry about anyone else but your little family! 😉
Happy & safe baby travels~
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