Traveling with kids
GO BABY GO Let’s begin this discussion with a basic truth. Traveling with your infant is a bit of a hassle and requires more gear and planning than traveling with your older kids. Still, traveling with babies is one of my favorite ways to go, since we both get right-in-the-now, undivided time together. Moreover, infants’ charm is negotiable worldwide, making all your travel plans easier and more fun. And, of course, because I can never get enough of my little ones.
BEDDING DOWN No one sleeps likes a baby, and babies generally sleep very well on the road. The rocking, lurching, chugging motions usually knock them right out. Still, having a familiar bed or bed gear reassures infants and small children. For infants, we travel with a small portable crib that can fit under our legs on public transportation, or on our laps. We’ve also used (and like) little zip-up buntings that keep baby in a cozy, manageable bundle.
By the time baby is six months, it’s time to graduate to a portable crib. Our favorites are the Evenflow (easiest to set up and take down) and the Graco, which umbrellas up and fits into a canvas traveling case. The Graco is heavier and takes a bit longer to set up (it’s still easy, though) but it’s quite a bit larger, making it suitable to do double duty for those outings to grandma’s house or as an extra playpen at home. Portable cribs are also very handy for taking to the beach or pool.
An aware blanket and toy can make all the change for traveling children. As they get older, they can continue to gem their favorite total. (Our 15-year-old’s pet blanket now exist in on a chair in his boudoir where he often uses it as a lap heater while working on his computer!)
GETTING AROUND We like child-carrying backpacks for traveling with kids up to 3 years old. The Gerry has an inner sling for younger ones that can be dispensed with as they grow. We’ve even used the Gerry for very small babies, fitting a receiving blanket around baby for stability. We also travel with the lightest umbrella stroller we can find, which we push right onto the plane and store in the overhead compartment. Moving the baby or preschool aboard can really save your back on a half-mile long mall.
We find it much more suitable and cost-real to take our own car chairs with us on vacation. They are also near for keeping children’s in one place in the hotel rooms during feedings and quiet time.
DIAPERS I have a hard time mitigating disposable diapers at home on environmental grounds, but though on the road, they’re just too suitable to resist. We also travel with at least a dozen cloth diapers for when we settle down in a spot. Disposable diapers can be very expensive in developing countries, so we recommend starting out with a good supply from home. Don’t forget the rubber pants, and carry a packet of wipes and rash cream in your day bag to make diaper changes easier. We like creams containing Vitamins A and D because they’re good for sunburn and other skin irritations as well.
CLOTHING Keep it simple and keep it to the minimum, for both you and baby. You can expect to be doing some laundry every few days anyway, so why burden yourself with too many changes of clothes? We usually figure on four changes of clothes, two sets of pajamas, one dress-up outfit and an all purpose jacket, suited to the climate you’re traveling in. Add socks, underwear, one pair of shoes and a swimsuit, and you’re ready to go. For maximum convenience, take mix-and-match separates in dark and bright colors. In hot climates, all cotton is definitely more comfortable. Be sure to bring a hat that protects baby from the sun. Pack the bags, and then don’t worry about it. If you find you’re missing some crucial item, you can always pick it up along the way, for a more intimate souvenir. (I treasure my Irish underwear!)
TOYS Take a few small favorites and maybe a favorite book. When those toys have lost their appeal, stop in at a local toy store and buy new playthings along the way. Check them out closely, however, as safety standards vary.