My friend and fellow travelling mom Isabel recently returned from a trip to Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia with her husband and 8-month old baby. It was a wonderful trip, but it wasn’t without its challenges and trying moments along the way.
Isabel has some very good advice for other moms travelling or thinking about traveling with baby, and I’m pleased to share her thoughts with you.
Motherly Advice about Traveling with Baby
1. The quality of jarred baby food in Europe is amazing. Delicious, fresh tasting and included complete puréed meals such as “tagliatelle with veal and vegetables,” “spaghetti bolognese”, “lamb with creamed corn” and so on. Yum!
2. We took six 4-oz Rubbermaid containers that were the perfect size for the quantity of food he was eating at the time of travel planning (his appetite grew enormously during the trip though). We used these in tons of ways: filled them with 2 or 3 tablespoons of rice cereal which we later mixed with veggies on the plane when it was his meal time… mixed defrosted cubes of vegetables and fruits (which I made at my aunt’s house in Croatia)…. stored leftover jarred/bought baby food, and so on.
3. Travelling in the heat of summer can be difficult on you and your baby, especially if they are not used to hot and humid conditions. They (and you!) may wake up often during the night and need extra fluids (breast milk, water or milk) to keep they hydrated.
4. The hardest part was trying to fit our travel activities into a baby’s schedule. We eventually figured out that if we got moving upon baby’s wake-up time (5:45 AM) and did something in the morning, then drove to another location he would sleep in the car for his morning nap. We managed to do lots that way, and come home by 4 or 5 PM in time to relax and get him ready for a 7 PM bedtime.
5. Double and triple check before starting the car after a road-stop, that all our personal items have been put BACK in the car. When one is exhausted, operating on 5 hours sleep, has a crying baby, and is distracted, it’s not inconceivable to leave behind a $200 stroller (which, embarassingly, we did, in a Slovenian parking lot).
6. We learned that it is difficult if not pointless to try to teach a baby a new routine while on vacation because we’d only have to do it again once we got home.
7. When travelling somewhere where you know people, a baby is often carried by one person after another and is rarely put down to play independently. As a result, when you come home, you might have a very clingy baby. Our baby did have some separation anxiety when we returned home because he was never apart from us, not even for a moment, during our travels.
8. If we were to do this again, we would not do such an ambitious road trip. We would fly directly to our destination and stay there! We quickly learned to break up our road trip portions into 2-3 hours of driving (max) per day. Any road travel time estimates should be multiplied by 1.5 for a baby. Therefore, a 5 hour trip becomes a 7.5 hour trip with a baby, considering all the stops one must make.
9. When travelling with baby, expect the unexpected. No matter how much you’ve organized all aspects of your journey, situations can change quickly and your best laid plans can be impacted by a late night or baby’s illness.