One of the most common questions that I get from my readers is “how do you travel so easily with Nolan?!” Since we just got home from our last vacay in Miami last week, I figured I’d share some of the tips/ideas that I swear by after successfully completing Nolan’s 4th flight and almost 10th hotel stay before he turns 2 next month!
As always, I am not, nor am I pretending to be any sort of supermom, parenting expert, travel guru etc (lol)… these tips are just what we’ve figured out through trial and error; what’s worked for us, making traveling an enjoyable experience for all of us. I guess I feel the need to preface with this because, mamas out there— don’t you find the parenting “community” (moms in particular) to be super judgy over EVERYTHING!!! Anyway, here’s what we do, good, bad, whatever…
1. Pack light; buy stuff at your destination : If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I absolutely DESPISE packing. Add packing for another little person on top of my own stuff and I want to throw myself out a window. So what I’ve learned to do is: buy most of what Nolan will need when I get to my destination! Now, so far, he’s flown to Washington D.C., San Diego, and Miami twice, none of which are rural or undeveloped countries… so a supermarket or CVS was always around. I pack a few diapers for the plane, a few snacks and fruit/veggie pouches, and a clothes of course— but we try to just pick up a bag of diapers, wipes, food/snacks for him, cheesy toys we don’t mind “leaving behind” once we get there. And if they don’t have what he’s used to? It’s forced him (and I!) to get out of our comfort zones and eat/ play with what’s available.
2. Call ahead for a crib, even if you don’t use it: I’ve never brought a pack n play or crib from home for Nolan. Even on his first trip at 3 months, he slept in a hotel crib (I’m also not a germaphobe and trust hotel sheets— if they’re good enough for me, they’re good enough for him, right?!). Another perk of getting a crib is hotels often give you a larger room (wheelchair accessible, suite etc) if one is available to fit the crib. Extra square footage is so key for us so Nolan has at least a little room to run around in the room!
3. Flying: Not only does your stroller double as a baggage carrier (!), but if you wear your baby (we did until he was one) you don’t have to go through the extra security screening and also get to go through priority (faster!) security lines! You just check your stroller right at the gate when boarding and they bring it right back to the exit when you land. Couldn’t be easier.
4. Boarding: Airlines let “people traveling with small children” board first— I have no idea why anyone in their RIGHT MIND would ever want to be on the plane first and sit for an extra 40 minutes in a cramped space with a baby or toddler! We always board at the last possible minute and let him play/ run around at the gate for as long as we can. If you’re worried about missing out on overhead baggage space, send someone you’re traveling with in ahead to secure bag spots.
5. On the plane: we’ve gotten lucky on two flights with empty seats where Nolan could have his own seat (even though babies fly for free until 2). Otherwise he sits on our laps or in between us with the arm rest up. His longest flight was to Cali (5 hours about), and really it’s amazing how they seem to just sense that they have to sit down and not move. I mean sure, does he want to stand up on our lap and wave to everyone around him, sure. But for he most part it’s really bearable. Bring snacks, water, a stuffed animal and plenty of books and shows/ movies on the iPad- we normally are really stingy with screen time for Nolan, but flying is the exception.
6. Bedtime: so on vacay, who wants to go to bed when the little one does?! We book a room with a terrace if possible, or an adjoining room if you’re traveling with fam/friends, or even a suite so that you have a place to hang out once the baby goes to sleep. Our terrace at the Gale in Miami was awesome— we brought board games, cards and drinks out there so we could have some post bed time adult fun once Nolan was asleep.
Hope these ideas help— or at least maybe encourage any (new) parents out there who are hesitant to travel with their little one(s) to go for it!
If I left anything out, please add any additional travel tips below to share!