By no means do I consider myself an expert but my husband and I recently took our, then-almost-six-month old, son on his first vacation ~ a long weekend to Charleston by plane. Other than not sleeping well in the hotel room crib, Elliot did remarkably well, which gives me hope that he will be as enamored with travel as we are. Based on some things that we did do (and a few we didn’t) I thought I’d share a few tips for successful travel with an infant:
Use a pacifier on the plane. I’m sure you’ve heard this one. I know I had. In fact, other mothers had told me to make sure to feed Elliot on landing and take-off. However, I’m not sure how that would have worked, since I was instructed to hold him upright against my shoulder with his head supported. So, we gave him his beloved binky. Elliot let out just a few brief cries on take-off and landing, so I’d like to belive the pacifier helped relieve the pressure in his ears.
Pick a family-friendly hotel: When we travel as a couple, my husband and I are big fans of bed and breakfasts. But realizing that many couples view B&Bs as romantic get-aways (and that many B&Bs don’t even accept kids), we opted to go a different route. That’s right, the Holiday Inn.
While I wouldn’t recommend it to non-parents, it met our needs perfectly. They had cribs and highchairs, and staff that ooh-ed and aah-ed over our son. Best of all, we didn’t worry that Elliot’s middle-of-the-night crying would interrupt a couple of honeymooners.
Schedule in down time. When I travel, I typically like to go, go, go! I like to leave the hotel room in the morning and return nine or 10 hours later, only to shower and leave again for the evening. We learned this the hard way, . . . on our first day, . . . that babies need down time! We arrived mid-afternoon and tried to take advantage of our short day by packing in as much sight-seeing as we could. Big mistake. When we arrived for dinner that night (at a restaurant that really wasn’t infant-friendly…see next tip), exhausted Elliot had a breakdown. And of course, it was our fault, not his. From then on, we made sure that he got his naps and his in-hotel playtime and he was a happy camper.
Pick restaurants with your baby in mind. Fortunately, the site of Elliot’s meltdown was very crowded, and very loud. Otherwise, the other patrons paying top dollar for their seafood meals would really not have appreciated having their fine dining experience interrupted by a crybaby. We lived and learned, and picked more casual dining spots for the remainder of our trip…which worked out much better.
Expose your baby to something new. Of course, your child most likely won’t remember anything about your trip, just like your little darling won’t remember the stimulating educational toys you carefully selected or all the middle-of-the-night feedings you got up for. While I have no way of knowing if this is true, I’ve want to believe that children (even babies) benefit from seeing and doing something new. We took Elliot to his first aquarium, which fascinated him,. . . at least until he fell asleep on Daddy’s shoulder.
Most importantly, stay flexible and keep it fun. After all, that’s what travel is all about.