I knew having a baby would make everything hard. I used to think it would be near impossible, or just too frustrating, to travel with a baby. Mike and I were later than most of our friends having kids, so we got to see firsthand how their lives changed. I was amazed and impressed at some families abilities to do what they did with their children, and I knew I wanted to be like them. Because we were able to see other families, not just travel, but enjoy and grow from traveling with their kids, I knew we could make it work.
It has been hard, but it’s been undoubtingly worth it. In the six months since Jackson has been born, we’ve been to Berlin twice, Rhudeseim, Greece, Luxembourg, Edinburgh, and a month long road trip through Scandinavia. We’ve changed some things along the way, but we’ve learned what works for us.
I’d like to note that our advice is probably best for travelers that are similar to us. We like to spend more than one night at a place, getting to soak it in slowly experience it rather than rush and see all the sites and move to the next place. We sleep in and spend more time wandering from one attraction to another rather than at the attraction itself. I also understand every baby is different, and every baby has different needs. I also breastfeed, so I don’t have any advice on formula.
At this age babies are most interested in you; Mom and Dad. They don’t need much for toys, so your packing list is minimal.
Here’s what we’ve learned;
1. Find a good carrier that works for both you and your partner.
In many places, strollers are not practical. We’ve done our travels in Europe, and it gives the impression of being baby friendly, but it’s not very stroller friendly. Public transportation often has no elevators, and that can be frustrating. Some museums are very stroller friendly; some are not. Before you travel, I would google how stroller friendly the place you’re going. It’s much much easier to wear your baby, but you’ll be wearing them for extended periods of time, so you want it to be comfortable. It’s also ideal for napping if you have a baby that hates sleep as much as ours. We’ve brought our stroller along on road trips (but only rarely use), but left it home when we’ve flown places and only used the carrier.
If you are traveling somewhere stroller friendly, find the most practical, small, lightweight stroller you can afford. We didn’t, and therefore only traveled with the stroller on road trips. It also took up almost half our car, so we had to pack light. Even on the road trips, we didn’t use it much, but I do wish we had a smaller one. We’ll be making that purchase shortly.
2. Take things slow, plan less, and be flexible
This is not the time you’re going to be traveling hard and knocking things off your travel list. Your baby might be like our son and nurse for 45 minutes to 1 hour every 2-3 hours. Fortunately, this changed as he got older. During our road trip through Norway, he was still feeding for half an hour. Long nursing session don’t give much time for site seeing. Not only feeding but dressing, changing, changing because of a blow-out, playing, take up time! You can’t plan when everything happens either; your baby determines when he’s hungry and when he has a blow-out. Don’t plan too much for your days, and choose locations you don’t have a “set list” of things you have to do.
3. Don’t book the budget room at the cheapest place you find
We used to book the cheapest option when traveling. Not anymore. Our second overnight trip with Jackson to Rhudeseim we booked a hotel in a great location, but the cheapest room with no view. Our view was of trash. I regretted this when I spent half the day in the room. Jackson always slept late, and as I mentioned before, nursed for an hour. We were also still getting used to our routines and slow to get out the door. When you spend that much time in a room, it should be more than just a box to sleep in. No more windowless rooms. This was hard in Stockholm, where most of the economical options were windowless rooms.
Everyone and every baby are different so that you might have different needs than us, but understand your needs will change with a baby, making traveling more expensive.
4. Consider Co-sleeping (makes booking hotel rooms easier)
I know not everyone is going to do this, and there are safety rules to follow when co-sleeping. However, if you’re open to it, co-sleeping makes things a lot easier. You don’t have to pack something extra big and bulky, and you don’t have to find a hotel or Airbnb that provides a crib. Most places we found options that provided a crib, but it wasn’t always the best value or location. I like being able to have my options open. I know that will change as Jackson is older, but for the 0-6 months age, it’s what worked for us.
5. If you’re breastfeeding, bring a pump
This will give you the option to pump in the car, as you’re driving, and feed the baby a bottle. Yep, we did that. Not often, because I didn’t like the idea of other people looking over to our car and wondering what was going on. I did try to put a muslin blanket over me while I was pumping, but it was still clumsy. Having the pump also allowed me to enjoy a glass or two or three of wine.
6. Have an idea for feeding breaks
When you’re site-seeing, plan some “coffee breaks.” Your baby will need to eat often, and when you already have an idea where there will be places to stop, it makes the hungry crying much less stressful.
7. Be comfortable changing your baby ANYWHERE.
Self-explanatory. You really don’t need a changing table. Any surface works. Your car trunk, benches, tops of toilets (not ideal), the ground, etc. Just make sure to bring your portable changing pad with you.
1. Breastfeeding Travel Pillow
This saved my arms while traveling! I always brought this with us, and mostly used it in hotel rooms. Most hotel rooms have at least a chair, and this made it much more comfortable to nurse for extended periods of time. It’s compact and airs up fast. It also holds the air in extremely well. ‘>Clik Camera Backpack (this isn’t the exact model I have)
3. Camera clip
Not specifically baby related but anything that makes life easier I think can help you while traveling with a baby. Do you ever get annoyed having your camera strap around your neck? I do, especially while wearing a backpack. Sleep-deprived Kim along with annoyed Kim creates a very bad scenario. I notice when I’m annoyed I don’t take as many pictures because I don’t want to deal with whatever is annoying me. We purchased this clip and absolutely love it! No more messing with straps strangling my neck.‘>AmazonBasics Pet Training and Puppy Pads
5. Manual Breastfeeding Pump
If you’re breastfeeding, this pump is small and compact. It worked well for me, was easy to clean, and came in handy when we were either in the car or I wanted a glass (or 2 or 3) of wine.
6. Good Breastfeeding Shirts
I can say that when I began breastfeeding in public, I always used my cover. It was bulky, annoying, and a frustrating extra step when Jackson was hungry and crying. Once I started noticing other mothers in Germany not using covers (and looking at me weird when I was using one), I began to be open to not using one. I stopped using it on our trip to Norway, and I haven’t used it since. However, I am still concerned with ‘showing too much,’ so I like my breastfeeding specific shirts. No one would be able to see my nipple unless they’re staring at me right when my son latches or comes off. As he’s gotten older he gets distracted more, but, before six months that didn’t happen often. My favorite shirts are from www.boobdesign.com. They are an investment, but they do have sales. I stumbled upon 50% and bought a few at once. There are also tank tops you can wear under your regular shirts, but I find having to pick my shirt up over my breasts feels very exposing, so I don’t use them in public very often. ‘>LILLEbaby Embossed
I’m sure other items can make life easy, but these are the most notable ones for us. Hope this helps you!
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Here are some iPhone pictures from our travels!