It’s no surprise that when we were telling people of our plans to take our 10 month old baby traveling we were met with a lot of shocked expressions and “wow you’re brave” comments. And of course we were concerned about certain aspects of it and knew we’d need some tips for traveling with a baby. But I can honestly say that it was so so easy. It really wasn’t any different to being back home, apart from adjusting to the time zones and a couple of difficult bed times. So if you are in the position to be able to take your baby on a long holiday then please don’t be put off.
I wrote some tips here on how to survive the flight. During our first 9 hour flight Henry only slept for 45 minutes so we certainly needed some serious distraction tools. For us snacks worked better than toys. We were able to make a box of raisins last about an hour at one point! We took 6 flights in total and Henry was brilliant, so much better than I anticipated in a confined space at funny times of the day. My main tip would be to try to get the bulkhead so that you have a lot more room by your feet for them to have freedom and you can get the bassinet for them to sleep in if you can get them down. If you expect the worst, they will probably pleasantly surprise you!
I won’t lie, the first 4 days were very early starts. He would wake at around 4am and be ready to start the day playing! And it was also tricky when we returned home. If you’re looking for tips to readjust your child I would recommend the following;
Try and give them the first day to catch up on their sleep when they want to if like Henry they didn’t sleep much on the plane. Don’t book too much in, take the time to adjust.
Give them as much daylight during the day time hours, this adjusts their internal body clock most effectively if they are back to front.
Try and stick to your home routine as much and as quickly as possible, gradually introducing a later or earlier bed time depending on which way they are out.
Day 1 of our return;
Henry was spot on to his pre trip routine the day we got back – 2 naps and bath and bed at 6.30pm – talk about a false sense of security! At 9pm he woke up and would not go back to sleep despite shushing then almost an hours walk out in the pram. We came to the conclusion that he was just not ready for bed and so we allowed him to get up and play for a couple of hours before trying him back again at 11.30. At this point Stuart and I hadn’t slept for over 37 hours so we were tired little bunnies. Luckily for us Henry slept in until 11.30am – so 12 hours, just the wrong times!
Day 2 – Awake at 10am, bedtime 9pm
Day 3 – Awake at 9am, bedtime 8pm
Day 4 – Awake slight slip back to 10am, bedtime 9.15pm
Day 5 – Awake at 8am, bedtime 7.30pm
Day 6 – Awake at 7.30am, bedtime 7pm
Tomorrow let’s hope for normal 6.30am wake up and 6.30pm bedtime!
My main advice would be, don’t book anything too intensive in for the first few days. This will help limit the stress for both you and your baby. We were lucky that we were staying with our friends in Chicago for a week, so we had loads of space for him to play in for those first few early starts, and we could limit our adventures until he was settled.
We certainly didn’t travel light, and that was mainly due to the amount of time we were away for and the 2 extreme climates we had to dress for – Canada in April and California in May! If you are struggling with luggage weight limits I would recommend that you try not to bring too many of the same thing, such as sleep suits and vests as there will always be washing facilities within the hotel or nearby. You shouldn’t need towels as all hotels have them for both showering and swimming. Think about how many days you may have by the pool or on the beach as these days you won’t necessarily need a full outfit for them on top of their swimming outfits (sadly ours wasn’t such a holiday this time!). Think also about your traveling days as you could think about using a sleep suit for the aeroplane rather than an outfit (my experience is that they get utterly filthy from crawling around on the floor during the hours of waiting for planes.) Here are my top 3 products I wouldn’t go away without.
It goes without saying to time your naps around your traveling needs of course; as you would do at home. But this was really key for us as a couple of days we had a lot of ground to cover. We would set off straight away after breakfast so Henry would have 1hr 20mins plus another 40 mins or so of being amused looking out of the window. Then a break for lunch and a play somewhere he could get out and explore, followed by the same during his after lunch nap. This only happened a couple of days as usually we would limit our driving to 1 sleeps worth every few days.
Day time Activities;
It was really important to us to make sure Henry was getting enough mental and physical activity as possible, so if you’re feeling the same I’d suggest you do some research to see where local soft play and children’s centres are. In America they have “Children’s Museums” which are fantastic and we were given passes by our friends in Chicago to the local one there which was packed full of amazing activities for all ages of children, Henry had an amazing time exploring. We found loads of these around the States. The beach was also a huge hit for our boy who’d never felt the sand between his toes before and on cooler days he would spend hours playing with it, fascinated.
After 6 weeks, 6 flights, and 4 time zones we certainly learnt a lot as well as seeing a fantastic array of beautiful sites, and these are just a few tips, but please get in touch if you wanted any further advice for your upcoming trip. Try not to let the planning and preparation stress you out and enjoy the memories you’ll be making with your family.