Whew - we made it home, and all in one piece! Traveling with an infant is quite the journey, but our little girl was such a little trooper. She slept well, was rarely fussy, and even slept on the plane. There are definitely things that I am glad we prepared for and other things I wish we would have done differently - so hopefully I can give some insight on how to best travel with a little one.
To start off, I will give some background on this trip. We traveled from Arizona to Oregon via plane. Some of the time we fly to Portland (2.5 hour flight) & drive to Bend (3 hour drive), because the drive is absolutely gorgeous and Portland is a fun place to visit. If we don't want to drive from Portland, we fly straight to Redmond/Bend - which is what we did this time around. I couldn't imagine flying for 2.5 hours and then having a 3 hour drive with an infant. We stayed at my grandmother's house the first two nights and then at a VRBO for the remainder of the time. We were lucky both places were spacious and felt like home.
Where Did Baby Sleep?
Her sleeping arrangements have been super funky at home, but we tried to anticipate the problems that would arise while traveling. Emily has slept in her Rock N' Play since about week 4 - she sleeps great and it puts us at ease because the chances of her vomiting in her sleep are very low. However, she is almost 4 months old and we are really trying to transition her to her crib in her room - so not only did she need to familiarize herself with sleeping flat but also in another space. She had been taking all of her daytime naps in her crib, in her room - which helped with the laying flat part. BUT before we left we tried putting her in her crib at night. EPIC FAIL. She was not having it. So, what did we do? We ordered a Pack N' Play & a Rock N' Play via Amazon and had them both delivered (well, tried to have them both delivered to my grandmother's house - that's for later) to my grandmother's house. Though we could check the Pack N' Play for free, we really didn't want to travel both ways with it. We had yet to purchase a Pack N' Play for our house, so we would bring that home and then give my cousin, who is expecting, the Rock N' Play. Sounds good, right? She's bound to sleep in one of them!
We arrived in Bend at 12:30 AM to find that the Rock N' Play never made it to my grandmas. Fun fact, if you try and have something delivered in Bend to someone who has recently updated their address (because she has moved into a retirement home) it won't be delivered and will be sent ALL THE WAY back to Seattle for re -sorting and then to the new address - though the addresses were within several miles of each other. So, no Rock N' Play. We had no choice but to hope she would sleep in the Pack N' Play. Guess what? She slept better in the Pack N' Play than she did at home in her Rock N' Play. 10 straight hours of glorious sleep. Whoo!! We brought her sound machine, Magic Merlin sleep suit, & kept our room pitch black - keys to a successful night sleep.
What big Items did we bring and which did we rent?
Since Babies R Us is going out of business, we used this opportunity to stock up on things we might want for this trip. I was not sure I wanted to travel with our stroller and car seat. I have heard time & time again that a stroller can make or break a trip, but because I had been to Bend so many times and was pretty familiar with what our days would look like, I opted to not bring either one of them. We purchased a Maclaren stroller ($60) as it is light weight and easy to fold up. We would then rent a car seat from the car company. The stroller was great - we absolutely did not need anything more for our trip. I was also less concerned about it getting broken or stolen. The car seat situation was a bit frustrating. You get the car seat, but not the base. I am also almost certain the car seat we rented was on the verge of being too old to be used. And when you arrive at 11:30 PM and still have to install a car seat you are unfamiliar with, you wish you would have brought your own. We then purchased the Pack N Play/Rock N Play and had them shipped to our destination so we only have to travel one way with them.
I was reading another mom blog before our trip & she mentioned kids taking a bath on vacation. Well, duh - but shoot, how is my infant going to take a bath while on vacation - something I hadn't thought about. Again, I used Babies R Us's sale to stock up on a bath tub. I bought an all inflatable little ducky bathtub. It doesn't take up much room in the suit case and it easy to blow up and take down. Now, she doesn't sit up by herself quite yet, so I did have to assist her, but it did the job.
How did the plane ride go?
I think we got lucky. I think our little girl likes to travel - but with that being said there are some things I would do different next time. First of all, I am so thankful I had my husband traveling with us. Moms that travel alone with one or multiple kids, I have no idea how you do it. Hats off to you.
-Less is more: Try to consolidate bags as much as possible & check as much as you can, if its free of course. Emily and I shared one big bag that we checked. My husband had his own bag that he carried on. I then had the diaper bag and a small bag of my own and the stroller. Doesn't seem like a lot, but when you're carrying a baby and trying to get situated on a plane - it adds up.
- Use a baby carrier: I did not use our Baby Bjorn on the way to Oregon - I should have. It was so much easier to board the plane and get situated with her in her carrier. Now, I was hoping she would sleep in it, making my arms less tired than the trip there, but no luck. She didn't last long in the carrier, but at least I had time to get on the plane and get situated.
- Anticipate distraction: Emily had not eaten for probably 4 hours by the time we boarded our plane to Oregon. The hustle and bustle of the airport was too much for her. She could not focus and eat. Even with a nursing cover - she wouldn't have it. Plan to find a quiet place for baby to eat or nap before the flight. Because she hadn't eaten and then couldn't sleep, she screamed for 30 minutes, eventually falling asleep, before the plane even took off.
What to Pack for Baby
Everything. I don't think there is really any way around it. Baby's need so many things & we brought it all. But here are some essentials:
1. 2 outfits for each day (warm and cool weather clothing)
3. Laundry detergent
6. Favorite Toys & Books
7. Medicines (nose saline, butt paste)
8. Jacket & socks
9. Bottles & formula (breast pump) & cleaning supplies
10. Bottle warmer & small cooler
Other things we learned:
- Most airlines will let you check one baby item for free. I was told it could be a stroller set OR a pack n' play. However, we were able to check the Pack N' Play and then check the stroller at the gate for no charge.
- When renting a car seat, it does not come with a base.
- No matter how hard to try to plan around your LO's schedule, traveling throws it all out of whack - be flexible.
- Shipping something to your destination from Amazon is not full proof. It is safer to check the item - even if you have to pay for it BUT not having to travel with it, makes for a less stressful airport trip.
- It took 24-36 hours for our little to acclimate and resume her normal schedule, even though there was no time change.
- Having a place to do laundry was a life saver. We traveled with less & came home with clean clothes.
- We spent more time at the house than times in the past. We tried to keep to her schedule as much as possible. We wanted her to keep up on naps in her Pack N' Play and not in the car seat or the stroller. I believe she slept better at night because of this - but we did miss out of some things we would normally do.
Chelsea's Weekly Tidbit
Take as many postpartum baths as possible. My postpartum recovery went so much quicker the moment I started taking baths. I invested in Dr. Teal's Lavender Epsom Salts and took at least one bath a day. It is also a nice excuse for you to take 20 minutes to yourself. Maybe close your eyes & rest or bring a book with you - it's good for the body and the soul.
Until next time, much love,