So my family and I recently embarked on a vacation to none other than the sunshine state – Florida! Can you blame us? We’ve had what feels like one of the longest winters (ever) here in the Toronto area. We desperately needed the vitamin D! Did I mention that this was our first time travelling as a family and Alexander’s first time out of the country? Yup, it was a big deal! To my surprise, travelling with a baby is not much different than traveling without one – there are actually quite a few perks! Think, a security checkpoint strictly for families and being allowed to board the plane first! With a little bit of research and a lot of advance planning, you to can breeze through any family vacation (although, please don’t quote me on the kind where you’re stuck in a car for 24 hours)!
 Pack as light as possible!
This may be the obsessive organizer in me, but I pulled our suitcases out a month prior to our vacation. This allowed me to do an “inventory” of all our summer clothing and pack pieces that I thought we’d like to take. As the month progressed I packed other items like toiletries, shoes and so on. Then, about two days before our departure, I went through each suitcase and reconsidered what I had packed. This is always a great idea, because I ended up removing quite a few pieces that were definitely not necessary.
If you are going somewhere like the United States (as we did) only pack what you’ll need until you arrive at your destination. For example, there’s no need to pack stacks of diapers or wipes because these are things you can purchase from a plethora of retailers once you reach your destination. Another great tip, If you’re staying in a hotel or an Airbnb make sure to research or ask whether they offer a cot or crib where your baby can sleep. This will reduce the number of items you have you to lug around with you!
 Enlist help when/where you can!
Let me begin by saying that a baby is like a magnet for any and everyone, especially in an airport! From people chatting in the security line to those passing you on the plane – be prepared for lots of small talk. That being said, people are also generally patient and for the most part understanding when it comes to travelling with a baby! Whether you’re travelling solo with baby or with others, don’t be shy to ask someone for a hand.
Most airports have staff who will help you unload your luggage and even bring you a large trolley for transporting suitcases. These services are a lifesaver and free up your hands! Not to mention, saving you from the endless back pain of carrying a baby, handbag, carry on and pushing a suitcase (yes, I did this on our way there and learned my lesson on the way back)!
On a more personal note, I ran into a situation where I had to change Alexander’s diaper and didn’t have enough hands to take the change pad out of the diaper bag. Thankfully, there was a young lady who I had made eye contact with at just the right time. I asked if she could help take the change pad out of my diaper bag and she happily obliged. She could see that I was struggling and truly helped in a moment of desperation and frustration!
 Catch a late flight!
I mentioned it earlier but I’ll say it again, we were SO nervous flying with Alexander for the first time. We attempted to plan flights around Alexander’s naps/bedtime and it worked perfectly. Our flight on the way there was during his last nap of the day and the flight on our way home was during his bedtime. On the way there, he slept for the most part but did require some entertaining. He also cried a bit, but nothing that was out of the ordinary. On the way home he slept the entire time! Our flight depatrted at 10:05 p.m. – smack in the middle of his bedtime. He slept in my arms the entire time and although not the most comfortable, he was, and that made both me and those around us happy!
 Pack/unpack strategically
Start making lists for mom/dad/baby as soon as possible. I like to open up the suitcases and leave them out in our room a few weeks in advance. This way I can tackle a few items each day, or even per week. In addition to the advantages I mention in tip 1, It also ensures that you don’t forget anything and gives you ample time to review your lists.
Packing strategically is also about HOW you pack and not just what you pack. Packing clothes for optimum room could mean the difference between 10 and 20 articles of clothing! I was reminded by my mother in law how much space you can save when you roll your clothing as opposed to folding it. You’d be amazed! It leaves a lot of room for bringing all of your purchases back! As soon as we get home, I like to unpack. I sort the clothes into laundry piles and empty everything out immediately. Theres nothing worse than a suitcase thats just sitting around – it’s one of those things we’ll just never get to!
 Reserve as much as possible in advance!
This includes where you’ll be seated on the plane. It’s also great to confirm whether or not they may have a bassinet available (usually dependant on baby’s age). We also paid a little extra to have seats with more leg room and to ensure that we were not seated in a three person row. When you don’t know how your baby will react to flying, it’s best to stay as far away from others and be as comfortable as possible.
It’s also a wise idea to check with your accommodations to see whether they have a crib available – these can sometimes be booked in advance depending on where you’re staying. Most hotels will offer a cot but some do have specific items designated for a baby.
 Have a plan
Having a plan will always save you time! When you’re prepared, you don’t need to question yourself or have discussion with others about “whats next”. Things you can plan in advance include, how you’ll get from the airport to your destination? What you’ll have to eat when you arrive and what you’ll do on your first day. It’s a good idea to pre-book your transportation when possible and to make sure that ride sharing services such as Uber, are available at the airport where you land. Part of planning includes determining your options. Depending on where you’re going, private vehicles may be a better option – think New York? They may also be more cost-effective.
Will your flight be arriving late? Make sure you bring snacks or purchase food on the plane that you can take with you and eat once you’re settled. Sometimes things don’t go as planned (think delays) and the last thing you need to deal with is a starving baby or husband!
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