Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Traveling with kids

We just got back from vacation to Florida with Caroline (20 mos). So here are my personal tips.
-We actually put the pack-n-play in our bathroom. That way, we didn't have to be to bed at 8 PM. The handicapped rooms usually have a big enough bathroom.
-Caroline is at an age that she loves stickers. I had a small spiral journal that she filled with stickers when we were in the car.
-I just can't say enough about vacationing with grandparents. It is AWE-SOME!!
-I had enough diapers and wipes in the diaper bag for overnight on the way there. That way I didn't have to get the big stash out until we were at our final destination.
-We told Caroline that it was "naptime" at her usual naptimes while we were driving there and back. She actually went to sleep within 15 minutes of us telling her to take her nap each of the three times this occurred. I know - I was as shocked as you.

Most of this is from a friend of a friend (thanks Carrie)...

On the airplane:
* If you are going to check your stroller at the gate -- have it folded up and roll it down the to the gate. That way you don't have to fold it up at the gate and then try to scramble to your seat.
* Pack some favorite toys. Buy a new one and introduce on the plane for novelty. Worked awesome!* Pack a change of clothes for the baby and a clean shirt for you.
* Its easiest to pack an all in one outfit for the baby, so you don't have to worry about separates in the bathroom or in the seats.
* Nurse/give bottle on the take-off and landing to help their ears. (we threw any feeding schedule out the window, and it worked great).
* If your baby won't eat, offer your finger or a paci to suck on to help with the ears. If nothing is working, crying does help the ears relieve pressure, though it isn't fun.
* The back of the plane worked best for us, because the engine noise helped Mia sleep better (and drowned her out when she was crying).
* Be creative & flexible... play airplane on the airplane, show them the view from the window, walk around, use your hand to make a duck, let them eat the burp cloth if they want... whatever works!
* Have a sense of humor. I would tell the people next to me that I tried to bribe her with candy/had a long talk with her before we got on the plane, but it didn't work, and they thought it was funny.
* Dress your baby cute, but comfortably. The cute factor helps soothe some people (esp grandparents and parents traveling for work).

In the hotel:
* If you can, get a suite... we didn't and it would have made our life happier to have more room, and a place to put Mia to sleep so we could have lights on.
* Request a crib. Ours was great, but it was metal so we had to rig some bumpers up for little-miss-roley.
* Some babies might be a little overwhelmed by all the newness and new places. Mia freaked out when we got to the hotel because of over-stimulation, being overtired, and too many new things. What worked great for us was to go out of the room, and walk back in one step at a time, soothing her. She calmed down right away.
* They may not sleep as well in the new place at first. Hang in there and go with the flow. They get used to it.

In General:
* Try to stick to the nap/bedtime schedule if you can, even if its in the car. We stuck to bedtime like our lives depended on it. Mia was happy as long as we didn't over-extend her.
* Pack light, but if you are going for more than a couple of days, remember to bring things that you use every so often (fingernail clippers, bulb suction thingy, blankets, tc).
* Buy diapers & wipes when you get there to save space (of course, pack plenty in the diaper bag to last until you can get to the store).
* If you are going somewhere you'll be visiting a lot (parents, ILs, etc) consider having them buy a carseat, so you won't have to check it every time.
* Go with the flow, have a positive attitude, and have fun. When I was relaxed, it all went better. When I was tense and nervous, Mia was fussy.