Photo by Danaus Chang
So you are going to be one of the brave, the few and the fearless, a parent with a small infant on vacation. Before you begin your dauntless challenge that has brought many parents to their knees literally, here are a few rules of engagement to make your summer vacation fun and less of a hassle.
First let’s gets some ground rules started, like any good seasoned traveler before baby or after baby. Plan, prepare and plan again for the unexpected.
Make a list of items you think you will need, and then look at that list carefully. What can be removed? Do you really need all of this stuff? Example, breast pump and supplies, think carefully about this one. Is your sanity and not having arms worth more than possibly offending a few people you will never see again in your life by breast feeding in public? Most people are totally unaware you are breast feeding and if you are stuck on a crowded plane or train. Trust me, people prefer a silent baby to a crying one.
Next look at your stroller, seriously re-evaluate taking it. How big is it? If you can barely fit it in the trunk of your car, think of alternative options like a sling or wrap. Baby wearing in crowded train stations, and airports can really make a huge difference. You will be hands free and able to move faster, you won't have to waste time looking for an elevator or struggle with checking and carrying a stroller and car seat. You need the car seat, you don't need a stroller for an infant.
Look at the clothes you are packing, will your hotel have reasonable laundry service or will you be staying in a condo with a washer. If so, pack light. If your baby or you need any medications on a daily basis, don’t check those. Keep them with you in a carry-on bag, loaded with snacks for mom and baby if your child is six months or older. It is unrealistic to expect a nursing mother or small child to wait to eat. One will get cranky and the other really cranky. Cranky + Cranky = Unfun vacation
If you are traveling by plane, remember to leave at least 2 hours before your flight. This is will give you plenty of time to get to the airport and park. Get out the giant industrial strength stroller (the one you should have left at home), car seat, luggage and still get to the gate on time. Leaving plenty of time for a TSA approved pat down of your infant if they look suspicious. Remember, never say “Come on, do you really think my baby has a bomb”. They will only hear one word “bomb” and you will probably miss your flight plus putting your child on a TSA watch list before their first birthday.
Once you get on the plane, breastfeeding your infant during takeoff and landings will help their ears pressurize faster. Most flight attendants will let you nurse them without a hassle. After all, they don’t want to field whiny complaints from other passengers. If you really want to make everyone happy, come up with tiny goody bags for fellow travels with ear plugs, and a few pieces of candy. Fellow travelers are always sympathetic if they feel like you are at least trying.
Also don’t pack ever thing especially if you are staying the US, there are cheap super stores in every city. Check for the nearest Walmart or Target, especially if you have a baby and toddler or preschooler. You will need a place to buy inexpensive water, drinks, and snacks for the hotel. Plus essentials like sunscreen, swim diapers and anything you accidently lose in transit. Trust me, you will lose something. Very few harried parents have made it through an entire vacation without losing at least one thing. So good luck, you will need it along with a lot of extra patience and a sense of humor.