January 17, 2014

Have Baby, Will Travel



When we booked our Christmas flights to Wisconsin last March I was so excited.  I love visiting in December and getting to experience a white Christmas.  As a third generation Floridian, I never really knew that they even existed in real life.

However, as our trip got closer and I started to think about the logistics of traveling with a 10 1/2 month old for and living out of suitcases for 9 days…I started to twitch.  It seems like on a normal day we have to take our whole house wherever we go and just going to our friends’ houses for a few hours can be a bit of a haul when we are talking about baby gear…so how in the heck were we going to pack for a week and a half?!?



A few weeks before we took off on our adventure I Googled “traveling with baby checklist”.  I found a few good ones, but this site in particular had tons of information including the mother of all packing lists.

Luckily since we were staying with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for the majority of the time we didn’t have to worry about bringing a pack n play since they have a 15 month old and had many of the “big” things that make life a little bit easier; including a highchair.  Score.

Our plan was to fly into Chicago, rent a car and spend the first night at a hotel using the hotel’s “crib” (pack n play) and then drive to Wisconsin on day 2.  Since we were renting a car we knew we would at the very least have to bring our own car seat.  Car rental companies have rental cars seats available, but we both felt better about bringing our own since 1.) we know it’s safer than a rental 2.)you can check it on the plane for free and 3.) we didn’t have to add on that expense to our already pretty pricey rental car.

We also knew we would have to take a stroller and our personal luggage.  The debate was to check or not to check bags.  Since my mom got us some new luggage for Christmas and because we would have had to pay more for a carry on than a checked bag (which we had never heard of before) we opted to check 2 bags and not carry any on.  We decided that the large suitcase would house Everett and Mike’s stuff and I would take the smaller suitcase for myself Smile.


We took:

2 rolling suitcases (1 large, 1 medium)

1 carseat with a rolling cover

1 jogging stroller

1 diaper bag

1 small backpack (Mike)

1 purse( Lane)



I always get nervous before flying with our little guy.  He’s somewhat predictable, but I know there is always the chance of the unknown freak out session. 

Luckily our flight was scheduled for take off at 5:50pm.  E’s last bottle of the night generally comes around 6pm and his bedtime is anywhere between 6:15-6:30 so we knew that we had a great shot of his sleeping the majority of the flight.



After letting him “walk” our stroller around and explore the airport floor (so gross), we boarded the plane, let him climb around (on us), get acquainted and then gave him a bottle right around take off – which also helps their little ears with the air pressure change.

After the announcements from the captain were over and the lights were turned off he was pretty much done.  He slept for almost all of the flight and only woke up to the sounds of a 2 year old throwing a fit in the seat in front of us (I can’t wait for those days).




As far as keeping busy on the plane we have found that the following things work:  snack containers of goldfish, quiet books, lots of standing, and napping.  Also, if your little one uses a pacifier I would highly recommend using a pacifier clip on your journey through the airport and on the plane. 




Luckily we had a few stashed in our pockets because when they drop on the airplane floor there is not much hope of finding it until landing…the quarters were a little tight!  The clip (which was in our diaper bag the whole time) was definitely present on the flight home!

Also, if at all possible, direct flights are the best.  Hands down.  100%.



We went back and forth on picking which stroller to bring with us.  We have two strollers that we use a lot (you can read more about them here) and love both of them. 

We ended up deciding on our BOB jogging stroller and we were sooo happy that we opted for that one.  Even though it is bigger than our umbrella stroller (one of the cons when traveling with it) the wheels were perfect for sightseeing in the snow.  The sun shade also offered more protection than our Chicco Lightway which also ended up guarding a lot of wind while in Chicago.




While in the airport we used the BOB to hold the diaper bag, backpack and jackets (basket underneath) which was nice to free up our hands for a hot minute.




Since we gate checked the stroller we had it with us until we boarded the plane.  We ended up strapping in our jackets before we folded it up so we didn’t have to carry them on the plane and find room for one.more.thing.  It worked out great!





I think the thing I missed the most were our stroller clips.  They were on our other stroller and would have made shopping much easier (they are perfect for hanging diaper bag/shopping bags). 



Knowing now what I do, I also think one of these guys (see below) would have been SUPER helpful when it came to sightseeing/tailgating in 20 degree and below (windy/snowy) weather.  For the record, Mike disagrees with me, saying these are ridiculous, but again, the Florida girl in me thinks we really should have had a stroller bundle for the little guy (think sleeping bag for a stroller)!!!






Eating on the go wasn’t super challenging, but wasn’t the easiest either.  Bringing our bottles with us was fine, but since E is on finger foods and really hasn’t had baby food in about 3 months made it more difficult while traveling. We took empty bottles with us and bought a bottle of water after getting through security to fill the bottle to mix with formula. 

We brought enough formula for 2 days in Mike’s backpack (carry-on) just in case we got stuck in the airport or lost luggage.  Our plan was to buy diapers, formula, wipes and food once we got to our final location so we didn’t have to pack all of those necessities for our entire stay (which would have taken up tons of room).

Once we got to Wisconsin for the main duration of our stay and we had a fridge/kitchen to work with it was all good; but hotel stays and airport travel was a bit more difficult (I did have a few spare packets of squeezable baby food if we were really in a bind).  We made a target/grocery run the first full day we were there to get all of the necessities and it worked out great.



Easy foods on the go:  avocados, bananas (actually almost all fruits), cheese sticks, unsweetened applesauce, and yobaby yogurt.

We even opted for a breakfast burrito from McDonald’s for the flight home since we would be in the air during feeding time.  I picked out the scrambled egg and tortilla leaving the sausage for Mike to eat.  Quick decision which worked out well in a pinch.

Because we also did a bit of dining out E would just eat bits of whatever we were eating which was great because he really will eat whatever you put in front of him (at least for now).





Another great find were these table toppers (see above and below).  They are disposable placemats that we keep in the diaper bag.  They stick onto the table and are perfect for kiddos who are eating finger foods but aren’t ready for any plate action yet.  I highly recommend these (we use them all the time – traveling or not).






In order to make sure your bottles, sippy cups, spoons and food containers are washed properly, I highly recommend brining your own dish soap and sponge.  It’s not as pertinent if you are staying at a house, but this proved to be so helpful when we were in a hotel room the first and last nights of our trip.






So, when we decided on bringing our own car seat with us I started looking at covers…for this reason (see below).



I love our car seat and didn’t love the thought of it not only being thrown around, but also getting super dirty and coming in contact with lord-only-knows what kind of germs.  Since E puts EVERYTHING in his mouth these days (yes, we are now up to 10 teeth) I was a little grossed out.

I also knew that with all of the luggage and stroller “stuff” we would have to take, it would be tough to carry a car seat along as well.  We decided to look at Babies R Us the night before our trip (it was closer than Buy Buy Baby) and found a rolling car seat cover for around $30.




I think it was totally worth the money and the wheels were a huge pro.  It wasn’t the easiest in the world to roll around, but much easier than it would have been to carry it.  It also comes with pockets on the side for extra storage.  We also ended up storing E’s pack n play sheet (we brought our own which I would highly recommend) in there to save room in our suitcases.  Score!

Since we checked the car seat at check-in we only had to wheel it a little way the cover proved to be well worth the money.




I was so happy when I saw it being loaded on the plane (above) and Everett was so happy to have his very own familiar car seat during our trip.






 I have to admit that the craziness of all day travel, Christmas commitments, sleeping in a pack n play and a one hour time difference made me a little nervous before we left.  I know Everett goes with the flow very well, but knowing that we would be out of our “normal” routine for an extended period of time made me a little uneasy. 

In reality it turned out great.  He was a champ (even though was teething pretty badly the whole time) and probably felt a bit like a ping pong ball with all of the “going” that we did.



We kept our feeing times and bedtimes the same (once we got there and adjusted back one hour) and he adjusted well. He went down as well as he does at home even though he wasn’t in his crib or even in a familiar place (thank goodness).  For us, sleeping in the same room with him for 9 days was ok, but I have to say I think we all loved being in our own rooms when we got back!

Also, in trying to keep as much of your routine as possible, don’t forget any sleeping items/aids that you would normally have at home.  We made sure to bring his blankets, sleep sack, lovie and noise machine which made the transition pretty seamless – he definitely enjoyed all of the comforts of home.



When traveling to a cold weather destination, muslin swaddling blankets, like the ones by Aden and Anais, also make great scarves in a pinch!





In all, my advice would be to have fun, take lots of pictures and go with the flow. We had a fabulous trip and know that, although tough at times, traveling with a little one is completely do-able without much of a headache.  The routine freak in me had to let go a little, be flexible and trust that when we got home E would ease back into his/our idea of normalcy. 



And he did.



Happy travels!

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