Thursday, 12 March 2015

Baby Travel Tips: Our first trips with baby

Good morning, good day, and good evening world!

So this is our first official post that finally falls in line with the blog’s original intent: travelling with baby. So far in our daughter’s first year of life, we managed to take Adelynne (Addy for short) to Vancouver, Victoria, and Whistler British Columbia (when she was 4 months old) and Orlando, Florida (when she was 8 months old).  
Adelynne's first airplane ride at 4 months
Here are some tips we discovered based on our two trips:
  1. Book direct flights during nap or bed time
Napping on the plane
For both trips we booked direct flights, which meant less time waiting around in airports, less time getting in and out of airplanes and, most importantly, arriving at our destination faster. We also found that booking a flight during the baby’s nap time or bed time made the trip a lot easier on Adelynne, the other passengers, and on. From our experience, it was slightly easier flying with a 4 month old because at that time she wasn’t very mobile and was content just cuddling in our laps or nursing. On our flight to Orlando, at 8 months, she was a lot more active and it took more time than usual to calm her down and fall asleep. Fortunately (or unfortunately), our baby never took the bottle, so during take-off, and landing I would nurse her. This was also a useful tactic when she got nervous on the plane (from the noises, air pressure, etc.) as it would calm her down, lulling her to sleep with little-to-no problem. Unfortunately, Addy would wake up after landing, staying awake during our commute to our hotel (despite the late hour of our arrival), but after we settled in our hotel room, she fell asleep fairly quickly with the help of a white noise app on our iPhones (another MUST HAVE- you can find a free app in App Store). 

2. Give the baby options: Bring a stroller and a baby carrier

Yo ho yo ho a pirate's life for me! 
On our first trip to British Columbia, we brought our heavy duty stroller, Bumbleride Indie and our Ergo 360 baby carrier. The stroller was a pretty inconvenient as it took up a lot of space and wasn’t as easy to collapse. However, it was useful when it came to nap time as we could recline the back parallel to the ground and have it act like a portable bassinet. Another important asset was our stroller rain cover, which came in very handy during the rainy Vancouver days. However, Adelynne would get sick of the stroller very quickly and preferred to be worn in a baby carrier. So wherever we went, we brought the Ergo 360 with us and used the front-outward facing option when she was awake. This gave her the opportunity to look around at all the exciting new sights and sounds. We would also use the front-inward facing option during nap times, and, depending on the environment, sometimes accompanied by baby earmuffs to cancel out the loud noises. If your baby is used to baby wearing, we definitely recommend bringing at least one baby carrier with you.

Strolling around Canada Pavilion at Disney's Epcot

By the time our Florida trip came along, Adelynne could sit up in an umbrella stroller (6 months and up), so we brought along a MacLaren Globetrotter, a lightweight umbrella stroller that reclines. The Globetrotter was really easy to collapse, carry when not in use and maneuver through crowds. Although it has a reclining back, this stroller didn’t recline as much as our Bumbleride Indie could. Adelynne still managed to nap in the stroller but we had less success than with our heavy duty Bumbleride as the naps didn’t last nearly as long. As usual after being in the stroller for a while, she would get sick of it and we’d transfer her into the baby carrier. We brought both our Ergo 360 and carrier wherever we went, using the stroller for storage when it wasn’t in use. The most useful thing about the stroller was that it worked well as a high chair while we were out and about in Disney World or places that didn’t offer high chairs. With the brakes on (of course) and the back fully upright, Adelynne was pretty content eating her snacks and lunch in the stroller. Both a stroller and baby carrier are essential options for your trips. 

3. Have a flexible schedule/try to stick to baby’s routine 

Addy napping during the tour of BC Parliament Buildings
During our travels, pre-baby, we would jam pack our days with activities and sightseeing. We would walk for kilometres without rest or snacks, I still vividly remember one day when we walked for over 20 km in Kyoto, Japan (my feet hated me by the end of that day). This is definitely NOT an option with a baby in tow. So our biggest piece of advice would be to make your schedule as flexible as possible and try to space out activities over a few days instead of trying to do everything in one day. Envision that you will be taking a lot more breaks (feeding, diaper changes, naps, etc) during sightseeing and mix up your day with only one planned major activity and maybe a few low intensity (sit-down) ones. When Adelynne was 4 months old, she didn’t really have any sort of schedule yet, so it was a lot easier to have naps on the go since she could fall asleep basically anywhere at any time. We went whale watching in Victoria, British Columbia and she slept the whole 3 hours we were out to sea. She really missed out  as were amazed by the huge orcas and humpback whales. 

Trying to give Addy a break from the sounds of Magic Kingdom
However, at 8 months, it was a whole different story. At home, she was on a strict schedule with two naps a day (morning and afternoon). We spent the first two days of our Florida trip in Disney World and we tried to stick to her schedule as much as possible. However, no matter how we tried, her naps were never as long as they would be if we were at home. She napped more often on the go, for short periods of time, but it was mostly light sleep. As we mentioned earlier, we brought some baby earmuffs (Banz) to block out the loud ambient sounds of Disney World which helped. When she was fussy, we would try to find a quiet spot somewhere and I would nurse her or let her stretch out. We would recommend having picnic lunches in a park so your baby can stretch out and rolling around for a bit before you hit the road again. Towards the evening, when it was around her bedtime, you could tell that she had had enough and just wanted to crawl on the floor or sleep in the play pen. That’s when we would call it a night, so  there were no late nights for us (missing the famous Disney fireworks show) and we either had to grab dinner on the go or bring food back to our hotel room. 

During the rest of our trip in Florida, we stayed with Mike’s parents who were wintering in New Smyrna. This gave us the flexibility to be able to stick to Addy’s schedule, with her two regular naps per day in the play pen. Although we did find it strange that her naps lasted a lot longer in Florida then back home, with one clocking in at over 2 hours long (this NEVER happens). We think the fresh ocean air, daily swimming and strolls on the beach may have completely exhausted her. Fortunately for us, these long naps have carried over back home in Ottawa.

This kid loves water and splashing!
Relaxing in New Smyrna Beach
4. Trial runs with travel bed before trip

Nap time in her pack n' play
A great piece of advice we’ve found on was the idea of “trial runs.” Prior to leaving on your trip, have your baby sleep in the play pen/portable travel bed that you plan to use for a few nights. This will familiarize your baby with the idea of sleeping in something other than their regular crib. 

One of the big travel challenges we found was the adjustment period for Adelynne to get used sleeping in her pack 'n play (Graco Pack 'n Play Playard) rather than her crib. She either just didn’t like change or it may not be as comfortable as her crib so getting her used to this change at home might reduce the number of night waking on our trips going forward. 

We hope these baby travel tips will help you guys on any future trips you are planning with your babies and please feel free to provide any tips you may have. Remember, travelling with baby isn’t impossible, it’s just slightly more challenging ;)

Here is hoping we will have as good of luck on Adelynne’s first international trip to Turkey and Switzerland (to visit her grandparents in Geneva) this April!



Graham Family at Whistler, British Columbia 

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