photo via: Simply Hue
by Jacqui Miyabayashi of Mee A Bee
Are you planning a trip ‘home’ these holidays? Visiting out-of-town relatives? Taking the kids to see their grandparents? I’ve been living overseas for almost fifteen years. During that time I have taken the long-haul flight back to New Zealand more times than I can count – with one and then two kids. You could say I am a seasoned traveler. Even if you don’t have quite as far to travel it is still a daunting task with children. Here are some of my tips for surviving the trip and enjoying your stay.
My biggest word of advice is to pack early and be organized. Find a packing checklist online or make one yourself then keep it in your baby’s room so you can start setting things aside as you come across them. You don’t want to forget the less-used items like the baby thermometer or his nail scissors. You can’t rely on kid-free households to have everything on-hand, even your own parents!
To keep down the amount of baby-related gear you need to take how about looking into rental options at your destination. Rent the baby buggy, high chair, baby bath and the diaper disposal unit (kid-free homes really notice the smell even though you don’t anymore!). If you have a toddler who needs a lot of entertaining ask grandma to pop into the library for books and DVDs. The toy library is another good place to visit. Then mom and dad are not stuck with huge toys in their home in between your stays.
Must haves for travelling with kids from left to right : SewnNatural; SnuggyBaby; The Pat-a-Cake Baby
Traveling by plane? That’s my special area of expertise. To be hands-free is the goal. A baby carrier is a great investment if you don’t already have one. I like the soft cloth slings as they fold up tiny when not in use. My kids both slept readily in the sling which was a god-send when trying to settle them in unfamiliar places and when our schedule was mucked up by time differences and jet-lag. With baby in the sling you have your hands free for passing over your tickets and wheeling your hand luggage (I try not to CARRY too much).
Always pack a spare set of clothes – of course you do anyway for your baby and toddler – but you also need a set for YOURSELF. I might be a butter-fingers but on the plane I always seem to knock over my coffee, someone bumps me while I am opening a juice box or the toddler sprays me with his straw. I like to arrive looking like I have everything under control so I pack at least a spare t-shirt. Everything wet (sicked on, spilled on or pooped on) goes into a Ziploc bag and I like waterproof ‘ickky’ bags like this one from The Pat-a-Cake Baby.
While on the topic of your clothing I recommend getting yourself a beautiful large shawl or pashmina. These are so versatile when you have an infant. Cover up an ugly stained top in a hurry. Discreetly nurse your baby under it (even in front of your father-in-law). Keep cold drafts at bay when feeding late at night. Use it to swaddle your baby.
Don’t forget to take your favorite recipes for your picky toddler. It’s funny how an unfamiliar kitchen makes me forget how to make even the simplest things. I also like to take along a recipe for a meal that the whole family can enjoy and that I can make from pantry staples. It’s a lovely way to show your appreciation to your hostess to give her a night off from cooking. Take along a few blank recipe cards in case you can convince grandma to part with some of your favorite “secret” recipes.
The other big area of concern for parents with young children is sleep. It’s hard enough to get kiddies to sleep in their own beds, right? I always pack my kids’ favorite teddy bears and cuddly blankets. Does your child have a much-loved bedtime story? or a relaxing CD of lullabies? I try to bring just a few reminders of home and quickly establish a bedtime routine for the new place. Well-rested toddlers and babies are much more fun to be around than tired, cranky ones.
Safety. Check the home you’re staying in for obvious dangers and hazards. Grandparents’ medications. Alcohol. Cleaning solutions. Un-fenced spa pools or fish ponds. Without coming across as a total safety-freak I think you can reasonably ask your hosts if they wouldn’t mind making some changes while you’re staying.
With a little planning and organization you can have a stress-free and fun-filled holiday season!