“The risk” of travelling with a newborn
Traveling with our little baby girl has been a totally positive experience; however, no one would’ve guessed that I would’ve turned into this confident mama had you chatted with me a mere 6 months ago…
I was having a conversation with a close girlfriend—the free spirited, cool chick—as we sat in all of our pregnant glory, ceremoniously scarfing down cheeseburgers while pondering our fates. She had recently returned from a hippy-dippy, mind clearing workshop where people had shared their heaviest fears about motherhood. These gals had gone through it all—i.e. miscarriages, health issues—the real shit that’s worth fretting over.
Caught in the candor brought on by the contemplation of fear mixed with the inspiration of becoming a mom, I had to ask:
“Candace, what’s your biggest fear about all of this?”
She replied in her laidback, Laguna Beach steez, elongating the first part of the sentence before seamlessly transitioning into a more serious tone.
“I’m not reeeeeeeeally an emotional person. But, I am totally afraid I won’t be able to do anything ever again!”
Oh, hold up.
I couldn’t believe that we were rowing the same selfish boat of all that we would be losing in the face of all the love we would be gaining with these new lives growing in our bellies!
“THAT’S MY BIGGEST FEAR, TOO!!!”
Don’t you love these friends? These friends that validate your humanity. It makes this journey so much easier when you can bond with the people who resonate with how you feel. Like, Candace; we are both sojourners. And, the only thing that poisons our spirit is the looming shadow of stagnation. But, that’s also why fear associated with anticipation is so useless. Once we get to the other side of the future, and we’re inhabiting the moment we had been trying to imagine, it’s nothing like what our minds had fretfully made it out to be. Nothing is ever as scary as we think it could be, which I know to be true since all those hesitations—how my precious newborn and I would navigate the reality of my soul’s mission (to travel)—dissolved as soon as I first held Winter in my arms.
I didn’t want there to be any boundaries between who I am and what my child “could” or “should” be able to handle. I didn’t want to regret not including her in what strikes my soul ablaze. I didn’t want to teach her that other people can impose limitations on you by what they say.
Only you can determine what is true for you.
Thus, at only 4 months strong, Winter has already been on 5 airplanes.
I know… I know… She’s a rock star, which is why I am sharing this with all of you…
Word to the new: Do not internalize the horrified faces of your audience when you reveal your plans to tote your newborn on a plane during flu season.
Instead: Remember that there are newborn babies who also live in all of these places you will be visiting.
I am aware that newborns have a lower tolerance for germs due to their maturating immune systems; but, I also think we make it a lot bigger deal than it needs to be. With a dose of caution, careful hand washing, and a positive mindset, you will have done most of the work having survived the germ bank that is the airport. The only other part is tuning out fear while it spits smack trying to convince you otherwise.
My evolution of joy
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao Tzu
Going on an adventure with family and making it simple can be a reality. You just have to decide what you want it to look like and believe that it will happen.
Since my whole outlook on life is joyous, why should doing the thing that makes me the happiest bring me anything less than that?
Thus, travelling with my family has been nothing short of a symphony of bliss. There were just minor shifts I had to make; such as, substituting hipster hideouts for family friendly, well-groomed hotels that ensure clean water, and a friendly staff that allowed behind the bar to use their to sink and wash our baby bottles out.
Not only that, travelling has allowed me to recapture a bit of myself again.
As a mother, I now understand what it means to have “no time;” most of all, for yourself. Having a free hand to read a book, or do something recreational is rare. But, somehow, traveling is filling that void. All of a sudden, the duties of a baby against the backdrop of a destination makes me feel like a more present mother than a hurried mess. Maybe it’s because I shed all of my habitual scenery that is what lends to the mess feeling amplified—the laundry, the feeding, the plants to water, the emails, the naptime… Thus, maybe mothers are only messes because we are forgetting about ourselves while we are constantly giving to others. Needless to say, this past trip has reaffirmed travel’s potent effects upon me. Its therapeutic benefits have reminded me of all the gratitude I hold in my heart for my job, my daughter, my husband, my mother, and the time we’ve carved out to just be together for the sake of the free flowing love that is family.
To create the same feeling of ease while travelling, I have assembled a list below for travel items/tips I’ve gained along the way. Because, one thing is for sure, being minimal is the right move!
I hope that my reflective feedback helps inspire you to take a special trip with your little one, whether it be on a road trip or flying to another country, because the reward undeniably outweighs “the risk.”
- Stroller– These are great to carry your bags even if you are wearing the baby bring this to the gate and then gate check it once you get there.
- Stroller Bags– We found that we really like the ones that Southwest Airlines sells for 18 bucks. They are huge and are way better than the one made for the BOB. You can check your car seat and base right when you get to the curb.
- Backpack Diaper bag– When it comes to traveling a plain old backpack is the key. No one needs a fancy purse. You need something that you can put on your shoulders and not take up valuable real estate on your arms.
- Portable Breast Pump– I have the Medela Freestyle. I couldn’t recommend this product any more for an on-the-go mom. I pump in my car when I drive sometimes! I bring a separate bag for the pump and parts & cooler or milk. The Medela pump comes with a tiny square soft sided cooler. We carry all of the pump parts and bottles in one bag with a bottle scrubber and keep all of her feeding stuff together. Don’t forget your pump charger!!!
- Mom Shoes- You know what I’m sayin?! Slip ons but closed toed. Nice and wide.. good for security but warm on the airplane. I have these ones from UGG. Ulukai also makes a great pair that is a bit wider.
- Neck Pillow for the airplane– Our neck pillow literally says keep away from infants but I use it to prop under my arm on the airplane and support my wrist that is holding the babies neck while she sleeps or during feeding. Super clutch!
- Pacifiers- You will need them for when the airplane takes off and descends to aid the babies ear pressure. It’s also good to reserve a bottle of milk or nurse through this. You may need to help keep your little babe awake and make sure that the pressure doesn’t build.
- An Extra Bottle or Two of Milk– So you aren’t scrambling. Always nice to have a little serving of milk on hand for a stressful situation. Am I right? No one like to be hangry AND traveling. Including your little baby!
- Circle Cut Sweater- Love my these sweaters. They just drape over my boob and serves as an extra blanket for the baby.
- Changing Pad- Bring a little one in your diaper bag for the changing table in the airplane bathroom. Those rooms are high use! Wipe down with a baby wipe before putting baby on there
- Tip Cash– Treat yo’ self and check your bags right when you get to the curb if you can. You will breeze right to security. Just bring a couple bucks to tip the guys.
- Hand sanitizer- Though we dont really believe in this stuff we make the exception when flying with Winter. No strangers allowed to touch the kid and use the hand sanitizer/ avoid touching surfaces yourself.
- Car Seat Cover- It can double as a privacy blanket when the baby is brand new to keep loving onlookers from reaching their grubby hands into your kids carseat.
- Ergo Carrier- Getting through security you have to take the baby out. We have the Ergo. I really loved it for those early trips because she just passed out in there and it was very germ free and contained.
- Normal Diaper Bag Stuff– burp cloths, favorite toys, diapers, wipes, an extra change of clothes, socks and something warm, a beanie
- The #1 thing is extra time: if you are a cut it close at the airport type… don’t be! Allow yourself plenty of time to make it an enjoyable experience
- ID- Babies don’t need ID but make sure you call the airline and tell them you have a lap child. If you are traveling internationally you will need a passport! Get baby passport early if you intend to travel out of the country. These little guys are good for 5 years! So funny that winter will have a baby picture on her 5 year old passport.
- The Extra Seat- If you ask at the gate, and your flight is not full, they an give you an extra seat for your carseat and you won’t have to check the bag with the carseat in it.
- Grandma Love- An extra set of hands to move your things through is crucial. I travel with a whole bag of camera gear that also has to go through security. Having my mom with me has been a wonderful addition because we get to travel together and she knows what all of the babies needs are and can hold the extra bags while josh and I do logistics. Plus it’s so nice to get to share memories with her!
- Travel Documents- Put your travel documents and wallet into your diaper bag, zip it up (less is more). Carrying a purse in addition to everything is not necessary. If you need a purse on the other side just put it into your checked bag…
- UBER- Make sure you order the extra large uber for your extra stuff!
- Don’t forget your car seat base!
For The Other Side
- iPhone Cable & Charger– Bring one for your rental car to play your pre-downloaded Spotify playlists. Pro tip: Make a playlist of sleep sounds or lullabys too. You won’t regret being able to pump those sweet melodic jams as you explore.
- Sound machine- Your baby is used to his or her own little nursery sounds. Having a sound machine is like brining a little piece of home with you in the hotel room.
- iPhone/nest cam- We don’t do this but some people like having a baby cam. I have a Nest at home so I think if you have your baby in another room and are used to that it may be good to bring to set up in your air bnb. We have also had friends call each other on face time and leave one phone in the room with the baby as a makeshift monitor in a pinch.
- Travel Size Baby Soap- Just took a little bit of her soap and put it into my toiletries that way the harsh hotel soap won’t dry her skin. We packed a portable tub once (totally not necessary unless you are doing a road trip) instead we just wash her in the shower with us.
- Bottle Warmer- again we don’t use one but something to consider bringing if you are used to one. We just ask restaurants for hot water and heat bottles that way.
- Travel Dish Soap- For washing baby bottles in the hotel sink. You probably won’t need this if you are going to an Airbnb or place with a restaurant but doesn’t hurt to have it and a bottle brush.
- Sleeping/ Cradle- Make sure to think about your sleeping arrangements, many hotels can offer you a crib… We packed a little co-sleeper to Hawaii which was nice. Every family does this part different. I sleep with Winter on my chest in the extra double queen bed but I know this isn’t for everyone.