All of you new parents (or not) out there, I know traveling with a baby might cause you anxiety. So here are my top tips to make it smooth(er).
The train/car/plane trip
The most stressful part in my opinion.
We’re used to plane and train when we travel (we went to Reunion Island when Luyana was 4 months old, 11h flight and we are going on a train trip in France once a month).
Advantages of train and plane : baby can move, no need to stop to change diapers, you don’t have to listen to your baby screaming in the backseat and do nothing about it, you can cuddle and even play games.
Disadvantages : people are often rude/angry and will tell you to make your baby stop screaming (excuse me??), delayed and canceled flights/trains.
First of all and keep it in mind while reading the rest of the post : RELAX. If your baby cries (normal thing to happen) and people get mad, don’t overthink it, try to soothe your wee one and explain to these people that they can change seats if they’re not happy. I know how stressful when your baby has a meltdown and nothing is soothing the screaming kid but that is okay. Be patient. Don’t get mad.
Another thing : prepare some toys, games, things your kid likes to see, do…etc. Books, legos, whatever you can think of. Give him one toy at a time, when he gets tired of one, give him another one.
Very important tip right here : buy a baby carrier or baby wrap if you don’t have one. It will save your life if your baby (like mine) refuses to sleep elsewhere than in his bed. Walk through the train or plan with your baby wrapped to you and BAM, few minutes later he’ll be sleeping (not an exact science though but it works most times). It is also more practical than a stroller.
Once we’ve arrived, what do we do ?
If you’re in a hotel or a Airbnb, ask if they have cribs. Airbnb people often don’t so we sleep with our daughter, not a problem (beside her bum in my face all night).
Recreate the same atmosphere for bedtime that you have at home, read a story if that’s what he’s used to. Try and do the same bedtime routine.
My daughter is terrified of showers so when we rent a flat that has no tub, I take her in my arms under the shower and we try to be quick and efficient.
Meal time is important. Two options : 1) you prepare before going out for the day everything you need (babyfood for example) 2) you look at your watch at 11:30 and get anxious about what you’re gonna feed your baby, if the waiter will take 1h serving your food (my life there) while your hungry baby is scaring everyone around by screaming like a crazy one.
If your baby eats solid yet, you can easily portion in a container vegetables/fruits/ham/sausages/cooked eggs/carbs, it will last all morning without refrigerating it, I promise. Been there, done that. Apple sauce pouches are going to become your best friend for snacks, desserts or starter (when he gets too hungry and you wait for the food, give him apple sauce and it’ll buy you a few minutes).
We never take stroller because it is not practical in the train, so we always have our baby carrier. She naps in there. When she’s getting fussy or move a lot in it, we try to find a park (or some grass) and I let her walk around for a bit. She is not walking good enough yet to walk beside us.
To change diapers, no stress. Summer? Every flat surface is a changing table. Pack a towel and lay it on a bench, on the grass…Etc when needed. Winter? Ask in restaurant/café if they have changing tables even if you’re not going to eat there, they’ll most likely let you use it.
Last but not least : traveling with a baby means taking your time, living it slow. It’s ok if you haven’t seen all the things you wanted in one day. This season of parenthood doesn’t last forever, breathe in, breathe out and enjoy it while it lasts.
I’m taking all your tips in the comment section, parents! I still have a lot to learn.