Tom and I both love to travel, and since our family is dotted all over the country and Europe, we want to instill a love of travel to Georgina. We like the ‘travel early, travel often’ theory. Georgie has flown to Florida twice (and done quite a few road trips), but the flight to England is about three times as long, and the trip entails a five hour time change. I was a little nervous, but then heard something that really stuck with me – Travel is never stressful for babies. They’re excited to see new things and new people, and don’t understand any of the anxieties that sometimes accompany travel for adults. They will be as calm as you are, and as long as you’re there with them (their constant comfort), they will be fine.
Here are a few things that helped us:
What to Pack: Everyone has their list of what they need for their kiddos when they travel, and this list can shift depending on where you’re going / what is already at your destination, and obviously with what works for you and your little one. For this trip, one of Tom’s sisters had a car seat and travel high chair for us, so that immediately eliminated two potentially bulky items. We ended up not bringing a stroller, because our trip was mainly spent in the countryside, so our carrier was key. (Once Georgie is a little bit bigger, we will be bringing our umbrella stroller with us – it fits in the overhead bin!!) Since we knew Georgie would be getting a fair amount of Christmas toys, we kept the toys light as well, just packing her favorites plus a few new ones to open on the plane. We also packed bibs, tons of snacks, her sippy cup, hooded towel, clothes and socks and jackets, a few blankets, water wipes, boogie wipes, saline drops, tylenol, motrin and sleep sacks, among other things. A tip – if you can, pack everything for your family into one suitcase. Since we were away for three weeks, and we had a ton of Christmas presents, this didn’t work this trip, but it’s a travel tip we swear by and try to adhere to as much as possible!!
At the Airport: If it’s a nap time, I put Georgie in the carrier and walk her around a quieter part of the airport / the lounge. I always have a lightweight blanket with me (we always use the star one from this pack) to drape over Georgie once she falls asleep, which helps her stay asleep longer. If it’s not a nap time, or if she just doesn’t seem to want to nap, we have her crawling around, exploring, checking things out and chatting with whoever seems baby-friendly. Also, I always grab a few snacks for Georgie at the airport (bananas, fruit salad, bagel, croissant) and a few for me.
On the Plane: I’m still nursing Georgie, which is a lifesaver when flying. (Honestly, I’m slightly panicked about traveling once she weans!) I nurse on takeoff and landing (although on longer flights the air pressure / popping isn’t nearly as bad as it is on a shorter flight) and also to get her down for a nap. When she’s awake, we lay out a few toys and replace them when she seems to get bored. We brought all her favorites and a few new ones, but her favorite things to play with by far were our water bottles and the seatbelt. She also loved playing peek-a-boo on the seat, waving to other passengers, crawling around the aisles and taking everything out of my diaper bag.
Going Off Schedule: Georgina has been on a great schedule for months now, and I like to adhere to it as much as possible. I’m typically slightly obsessive about it, especially her naps, but when we travel, I’ve learned to totally relax about it. I let her sleep when she seems like she needs it (and I don’t worry about how long her nap is), and I let her eat when she wants and don’t worry about how much she’s eating or how well balanced the meal is. For example, on our flight home she ate FOUR of these pouches, which she never had before and hasn’t had since. Travel is so not baby’s normal routine – it’s different and exciting and fun – so it’s key to embrace that and understand that the day will be different than it would be if you were home. Babies are such sponges so if you’re relaxed about it, they will be too.
Booking Flights: An obvious one, but it’s so essential to take flight times into consideration, especially when traveling to a different time zone. We opted to take the day flight out instead of the night flight for this very reason. Since the flight over is only around 6 hours and Georgie sleeps a solid 12+ hours at night, I figured it would be a terrible start to the trip and time zone adjustment for her to have half of her usual nighttime sleep. For us (and I assume as a general rule of thumb) nighttime sleep is the most sacred, so I’ll always preserve that over naps when traveling. Also, I’m convinced that the timing of our flight back home is what helped Georgie adjust back to New York more or less in a day or two. We landed at around 4pm, and since it felt like 9pm she was exhausted. She fell asleep when we were landing, but then the excitement of the airport kept her awake. She snoozed for a little bit in the car ride home, and then she was so excited to be back in our apartment and to see her toys that she perked up in a major way. So we were able to do dinner, bath and bed at her normal time and miraculously she slept through the night as usual and woke up as usual the next morning. Miracle baby!
The Rule: I’ve always known and accepted it to take an hour a day to adjust to a time change. It’s held fairly true for me and for Tom, so I anticipated it would be the same for Georgina. Onto my next rule…
My Rule: Babies adjust faster than adults. I was amazed with how quickly Georgina adjusted to the time change when we flew to the UK. It took her less than three days to get on her normal schedule, whereas Tom and I laid awake until 2am for a solid week. Ditto to coming back, although I always find it easier to fly west than it is to fly east.