Infant travel bleg

So we’re planning to cart Amara around the globe while she’s still portable. I’m pretty sure there’s some golden advice out there from experienced parents who took the adventurous route. Any advice to offer? The best airlines? The magic travel stroller? The thing you forgot that you wish you had? The best or worst decision you made?

In case it’s relevant, between her third month and her eighth, the plan is to hit Canada, Spain, France, Turkey, and probably Ethiopia, Vietnam and Thailand.

37 thoughts on “Infant travel bleg

  1. though they won’t let you use the floor as a cot space but, seating in front row of airplane (in front of screen) gives you more legroom and space to move around.

  2. Tips:

    1) Nursing on takeoff and landing is key
    2) Most international airlines will have a basinet that hooks to the wall at the front of coach. Very worthwhile for flights over 4 hours. Just make sure to book well in advance.
    3) Add an extra set of clothes to your carry-ons: it’s virtually guaranteed that on every third flight there will be a diaper leak or lots of baby spit-up.
    4) Whatever toys you bring to entertain Amara on the flights will be the ones she’s not interested in.
    5) The outrageously expensive McLaren strollers are actually probably worth it. Many airlines don’t consider strollers a carry-on and you can stow lots of gear in them surreptitiously and they are both light and heavy-duty enough to handle off-the-track travel.

  3. a small piece of plastic for lying her down ANYwhere to change, two sets of clothes for longer flights, a wrap into which to ‘tie’ her close, no-sugar crackers to nibble, enough wipes and enough nappies, booking the cots whenever possible, taking turns to sleep when you can, small bottle for additional water, homeopathic drops for when there is no doctor. but we survived plenty of long trips without this and they were fun!

  4. Worst decision: Orange juice. She threw it up everywhere.

    Best decision: Get the bulkhead seats (as mentioned above)

    The earlier you travel with them the better. Once they become mobile it’s a problem.

    It was easier than I expected it to be.

  5. I agree now is the time to do it, they only get harder to manage when they learn to walk, whine, etc!
    We had this insert for our stroller but it made a great bed on airplanes, we would lie it across the trays and at least have our hands free for a little while. Might work in hotel rooms too, where a crib isn’t available?

    http://philandteds.com/productsus/sleepus/cocoonus

    Congratulations, by the way, Amara is beautiful and I love the name.

  6. The comments so far focus on flights. People remember flights. But there are many hours in a day and babies between three and eight months need routines for two major activities: eating and sleeping. I have found in my experience that sleep is the most important as a disrupted sleep routine affects her and two or more adults. Just do it. But watch that sleep.

  7. A few observations from bringing two adopted children home from Vietnam.
    1) Bring lots of diapers on the airplanes. Flying is stressful for babies, and hell is running out when you are still airborne.
    2) The carry things that let you carry the baby against you rather than having to use the stroller are way, way better than strollers in crowded cities, but in places like the airport, I would rather have the stroller.
    3) Singapore Airlines was very child friendly.
    4) The previous comments are all very wise, especially the bit about the bulkhead seats. Bribe, plea, kill for them if necessary.

  8. I would encourage you to think about using the baby strategically. In Ethiopia, Amara is going to help you get through lines and bureaucratic tangles at double speed. Do you need a driver’s license – now if the time to get one. Take the baby with you. Multi year re-entry visa? Do it now. Take the baby. She is your ticket to expedited service.

  9. Ah! But there are so many products out there for traveling.

    A few that we actually used and would recommend:

    For airline travel on lap, we used an infant seat-belt harness:
    Baby B’Air Flight Vest Travel Harness

    http://www.amazon.com/Infant-Flight-Vest-Travel-Harness/dp/B000058DQB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1305321178&sr=8-1

    (Once your child is a bit older, you can get a Child Aviation Restraint System:
    http://www.kidsflysafe.com/.
    For a related story in NYTImes, see “Babies on Airlines: Safety Seats Are Safer Than a Lap” at http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/travel/28pracsafetyseats.html?scp=16&sq=seat%20belt%20airline&st=cse),

    If you find co-sleeping is not working, this collapsible tent is pretty handy. We used it when our child was about 12 months and very very squirmy (awake or asleep). It collapses pretty well and has a self-inflatable mattress. It is also nice if you are moving around a lot – it gives the child a familiar place to crawl into and collapse every evening or nap time.

    KidCo PeaPod
    http://www.diapers.com/products/KidCo-PeaPod-Lime-16507

    This contraption is great for making your car seat into a stroller and rolling it and your child to the boarding gate and beyond. (You could also use a Graco snap n-go if you wanted a more substantial stroller. This one is much smaller and more collapsible.)

    GoGo Babyz Travelmate Booster Car Seats
    http://www.amazon.com/Go-Go-Babyz-QRKIDZ-Kidz-Travelmate/dp/B000JJK9EY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1305321388&sr=1-2

    This ingenious little device turns any chair into a high chair — it packs into a small little bag that you can pack into a purse or a diaper bag.

    My Little Seat Infant Travel High Chair
    http://www.amazon.com/My-Little-Seat-Travel-Months/dp/B002AKRJ4I/ref=sr_1_2?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1305321825&sr=1-2

    And of course once you arrive at your destination, it is often easiest to leave the bulky car seats or strollers at the hotel and just carry the child. My favorite is the Ergo baby carrier, which allows you to carry the child on your back (once she is big enough and can hold up her head.) MUCH better than the front carriers (ie., Baby Bjorn, etc.)

    Ergo Baby Carrier – available most anywhere.

  10. I’ve traveled a fair amount with my kids internationally, but, dude, my first bit of advice is to consider whether this amount of travel is because you’re intent on proving you and your partner are still cool people who will not give up their adventurous lives just because they had a kid, dammit, or because you actually think it will be tons of fun and good for the baby to globe trot for 5 or 6 months. If you’re determined to do it, here are my thoughts:

    Ditto the airline advice above. Bulkhead is a must.

    There is no magic stroller (the cobblestones of Europe hate a lightweight umbrella stroller; your back will hate you for lugging a baby jogger around the globe); pick whichever you consider to be the lesser of the evils.

    Talk to your pediatricians about vaccinations and food restrictions and listen to their advice–personally, I wouldn’t start your baby on solids in a country where hepatitis is endemic.

    Have the baby sleep under a mosquito net in Africa; she’s too little to take anti-malarials.

    Take enough diapers for the plane and a day or two, then buy diapers and wipes when you get there, at least in the developed countries; don’t expect them to have that stuff in less developed areas.

    Either rent your own car everywhere you go, or get comfortable with the fact that the baby will never be properly secured in her car seat in Turkey, Ethiopia, Thailand and Vietnam and you will just have to risk it every time you get in a car in countries where traffic laws are suggestions at best. Cabs and even private cars there routinely have their back seat-belts covered or taken out. Try to talk to a Turkish cab driver about getting the car seat in the car properly and you will understand the meaning of the word frustration. (Aside: My Turkish relatives think I am the crazy car seat Nazi because of how insistent I was on car seats being properly installed for my son while we were there when he was a baby; this summer, we’re renting our own minivan to make the issue moot.)

    Plan on things taking longer– you will need to stop and change the baby, feed the baby, pay attention to the baby, cool the baby off, let the baby nap. However many sites you could see back in your pre-baby days, cut that at least in half. Plan one outing for the morning, one for the afternoon. You’ll want to plan on being back in the room every afternoon between 1 and 4 so both you and the baby can relax, eat, nap, cool off and collect yourselves for another outing. Dawn to dusk excursions will be exhausting and un-fun for everyone. Also, the baby doesn’t give a crap the Eiffel Tower is; she just wants to take a nap in a cool, quiet place. Try to respect that while balancing your own need to have fun on vacation.

    Give yourself permission to take things slow, make use of conveniences you wouldn’t have before kids and re-assess your plans if things aren’t working out as you hoped. Maybe it will be great, fun and easy for you to travel with a baby; but if it isn’t don’t feel bad. Taking care of a baby, while rewarding and wonderful in many, many ways, is also a lot of work…be prepared and be easy on yourself.

  11. Almost forgot: in Turkey, be prepared for total strangers to want to hold and kiss your baby. They love kids and are not shy about showing it, *especially* if the baby is blond and/or blue-eyed. Don’t be surprised if find your waiter/cab driver/random people on the street wanting to cuddle your baby… depending on the person, this may seem charming or creepy.

  12. Before the flight, be sure to test that your baby likes anything you want to feed the baby during the flight. We had some baby formula in travel packets, but it was a different brand and my son didn’t like it.

  13. The younger your baby is, the easier the travel is.

    Pack extra shirts for the grownups on the plane, not just the baby. Traveling in a shirt covered in baby puke is no fun, though you can tolerate almost any amount of yuck on your bottom half.

    Get used to strangers touching your baby, especially in Turkey.

    Jess is totally right about car seats.

    The snuggly thing that you car the baby in is way easier on planes than a stroller, but a stroller is better for a long day of walking around. Also, you should wear the snuggly since your back is probably stronger.

    Breastfeed!

    Buy diapers as you go, with a little baby the brand matters less. Also buy wipes as you go, but read the ingredients on the label, some of them have awful chemicals in them.

    Don’t bother with travel high chairs, just get used to holding the baby while she/you eat.

  14. I resolved not to travel with my kids until they could carry their own bags. Well worth the extra plane fare.

  15. Don’t take a lot of stuff. Easier a micro travel crib or mosquito netting is fine if you will stay in houses. Arrange to borrow stuff (cribs, car seats, etc) from people you are visiting – usually its not too hard to do.

    Everywhere you are going except maybe Ethiopia you can easily buy things if you need them – have a lots of diapers for trips, try to avoid baby jetlag, and have backup changing mats. If baby is breastfed it’ll probably be a lot easier and tidier – but then you need to make sure there are snacks and drinks for mom on trips.

  16. Lots of great advice. You are travelling with her at a time that is great. As @Leon said, once they get mobile, it’s hard — not just because they can move, but because they want to move and get frustrated when you don’t let them.

    The only thing I can add is that we bought a travel cot for our daughter. It’s not for the flight, but for sleeping in when we got to our destination(s). Our daughter used this as a bed for the 7 months we lived in Malawi and on every trip to see family around the US. It’s light and as easy to put together as a simple tent. It is enclosed so doesn’t require a mosquito net.

    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=phil+and+teds+travel+cot&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=11381613773542825375&sa=X&ei=zXDOTbSOB82ugQeNh4jHDA&ved=0CEQQ8wIwAQ&biw=1050&bih=762#

    If traveling to an endemic area, there is a pediatric malarone that she can take once she weighs 11 kg (and some say even as less as 5 kg). Also, immunizations can be taken early — but you should discuss far in advance your travel plans with your pediatrician as some will have to follow a certain sequence.

  17. All this is great advice, I think Jess’s words are particularly wise.

    One of my great discoveries in the past year (son is about to turn 1) is that baby schedules can be almost prison-like in the way they restrain you – and worse if you try to break out!

    Also, temperament is the great variable here. My son is easygoing, and didn’t really mind flying. He was very mellow on the four flights he’s been on so far, but I’ve heard stories from friends about children who scream for an entire flight. Take a moment to envision that.

  18. I was just on British Airways (BA) and impressed at how they dealt with a newborn. The couple had seats in the front row of the section. The usual trays were contained in the armrest and folded out, but there was a bigger table that came down from the wall in front of them, sort of like a diaper changing station. BA also provided a carrier and straps for them to make a mini-crib that strapped onto the table, providing a free and secure seat for the baby for no charge.

  19. I don’t have kids, but I pass on these tips for happy flights with small children second-hand:

    1: A small child in a really cute outfit gets more tolerance (if needed) from fellow passengers. (Described by the mother of a traveling six month old as the best tip she got.)

    2: DVD player. See http://www.gitomer.com/articles/View.html?id=15988 and http://www.gitomer.com/articles/ViewGitbit.html?id=15985.

    3: No, sedating your child will not help. Not only are they traveling, they’re stoned – which is scary for them.

  20. Borrowing from my successful sister:

    1) Nursing/feeding during air pressure changes
    2) Respect The Nap.
    3) Try everything before you go. Everything.
    4) Once she’s a little older, iPad

  21. Jess and Geoffrey have it right. The biggest thing about traveling with kids is that you’re traveling with kids — and your life, your schedule, your efficiency and your productivity will be nothing like they were “before.” If you can keep a great sense of humor and roll with the punches, everything should be fine. I would echo the need to take the vaccination/health recommendations of your pediatrician seriously, too.

  22. Some cities now have places you can rent baby furniture, just google it… definitely can be done in Canada, and it’s highly likely there are services like it in France and Spain.

  23. You’re probably overwhelmed, but remember to factor in jetlag. It took our little one at least a week to adjust when we moved from England to Indonesia. One of us had to be up the whole night as she was wide-wide awake!

  24. Ergo, Ergo, Ergo, Ergo: not only is it the most comfortable of all the baby-wearing baby-carrier options, it also can be washed, in its entirety, very very easily.

    Having a baby carrier that you both enjoy wearing and can be adjusted for both of you also helps deal with the stroller issue, since you have a very easy option for portability needs.

    Vaccinate: it’s one thing to adopt a delayed vaccination schedule in the U.S., and another thing to do it where certain diseases are still quite prevalent.

    Everyplace you’re going will have baby-wipes and diapers, with the exception of Ethiopia, so perhaps just stock up on those before that segment of your trip. Have more on hand than you think you’ll need.

    I bought that travel-tent thingy and took it to India and my little one refused to use it. After all the equipment waste I personally have caused, I say make sure you have malaria nets that are babyfriendly and then plan on cosleeping, since with all the other environmental/time changes, the baby will probably need just all that much more body contact anyways……

    Be prepared to use formula if the time/travel/other changes result in a drop of breastmilk/nursing. Supplementing may be a necessary option.

    It’s the easiest time to take a little one traveling, for sure, so enjoy!

  25. We never used a stroller before the kids hit 15 pounds. Not even in Berkeley. Especially for traveling, when you don’t want to carry any more than you need to carry–an Ergo is ideal (When wearing a skirt, I can even use an airplane bathroom with an infant in an Ergo). And if nobody in your destination uses a stroller, expect a stroller to be more trouble than it is worth.

    The one real advantage of a stroller is that a baby can nap in a stroller and save your back. But for this purpose, a folding baby seat (the baby bjorn babysitter folds very flat but is expensive), will take up less space in your luggage.

    If you can make any of your trips without a car, you can leave the carseat home. Otherwise, you need to be good at installing a car seat. We found that the Britax Roundabout was easiest to install in a somewhat older car without the latch system or even a locking seatbelt.

    I have used londonbabyhire.com and borrowed baby gear from friends at my destination. People in the places you are going have babies. Borrow gear. Their stuff may be better suited to the local environment than your stuff, anyways.

    Learn how to use cloth diapers (snappi clips are easy to pack) if you are traveling to places that may not stock disposables but might offer cloth diaper laundering.

    Remember that lap babies do NOT fly free internationally; expect to pay 10% of your ticket price for hers.

    Also remember that most of the other adults on planes are parents, and if your kid makes a fuss, they are just relieved that it isn’t their own kid!

    Traveling with babies can be stressful but has its own rewards–lots of friendliness, sometimes when you least expect it.

    Good luck!

  26. I dont have a baby so I cant really opine. But with all this carseat advice, I suggest reading superfreakonomics. Basically, they are overrated. I hope to see you in Turkey for a wedding!!

  27. Sterilising tablets in case you can’t find bottled pure water once you travel outside Europe. And Vaccinations!

  28. I strongly second the advice on having a baby carrier. We are currently in Europe with our 2-month old, and have brought a Moby-type wrap as well as a sling. They have been life-savers. Our son is still too small to fit comfortably in the Ergo and is not a big fan of the car seat as a place to just hang out.

    We have a rather heavy Graco Quattro stroller. It is bulky and does not turn particularly well, but on the other hand it is quite solid and it rolls over sand, grass, cobblestones, etc. quite well. While I would not recommend the Quattro, I _would_ be sure to get a solid enough stroller that it will roll comfortably over surfaces other than smooth pavement.

    Important: don’t count on getting the bulkhead seats and/or some kind of travel bassinets from the airlines. On the flight here from the US, we had booked months in advance, asked for a bassinet and been assured one would be there for us. Arrived 3 hours ahead of the flight at the airport, only to be told that the booking person had given us the wrong seats (and this was the booking person for people with gold frequent flier status), but that they could get us to the right seats to use the bassinet, which we were told could not be reserved upon check-in but could be picked up at the gate. At the gate, we were told it would be on the plane. On the plane, we were told that they had none, but should be available in the airport. Someone went back out to check, but no luck. After all this, we were seated in a bulkhead row with no extra legroom, and with a toilet right behind us, so no ability to recline the seat, and a fairly bright light shining on us during the entire flight. The flight still went smoothly thanks to the baby carriers. But the basic lesson is: don’t assume the airlines will be able to help you in any way. Everyone was friendly, sure, but that did us little good.

    You can get the 2-month vaccinations early (we got them at 6 weeks), but schedule some time before the vaccinations and your departure just in case of complications.

    Bring a printed prescription for any medicine the baby might be taking, so you can refill it if the airport security people impound it for being more than 3oz. or if you lose it along the way.

    Best of luck!

  29. 1. Schedule travel around your daughter’s vaccination schedule. Certain sequences need to be well timed and vaccination products & schedules vary by country.
    2. I never needed or used a stroller. BabyBjorn all the way.
    3. If baby is nursing, bring a small hand pump (no batteries/plug required) for use in airports, planes, etc. Also bring a milk storage bag with bottle-shaped ice pack.
    4. If she will co-sleep you will never need a crib. My daughter would nap anywhere, laying on just a washable changing pad and a nursing blanket.
    5. If you wash diapers and will have laundry facilities, check the diapers and use disposables on the plane. Still bring a wetbag in case you need to hold onto a dirty diaper for a bit before you can find a safe place to chuck it.

  30. While lots of programs on a washing aren’t essential, you might pick one equipment over another for a details program that appeals to your demands. Several are offered, such as spin speed, mild cycles, and also hand-washing cycles.