I cannot even count the number of family members, friends, co-workers, former co-workers and even childhood-friends-turned-acquaintances that have reached out to me when they are ready to travel with their little ones. I am asked so often that for my own time and sanity’s sake, I really should put together a document that contains all of my tricks, suggestions and successes – or, I could put it in a blog, and link it to future inquirers…
The thing is, all I really have to offer is advice based on my experiences. As with anything in parenting, I don’t know all of the answers. The things that have worked for my daughter certainly won’t work for all babies and the things that I have found easy may be the hardest things that other parents face. Likewise, my biggest challenges may be the things that others find to be a breeze.
The other thing to note is that even though I have been traveling with my baby since she was 6 weeks old, every time I travel with her, I am still anxious – though nothing can beat that first traveling experience.
I remember so clearly being in knots over the decision of whether to take my 6 week daughter along to accompany my husband on a business trip (from Boston to San Diego), or if little S and I should stay home. I was still dealing with emotional roller-coaster that is waiting for your hormones to rebalance and I was truly wracked with anxiety over making the “wrong” decision. Would it be harder to be home for a week with the new baby and no 2nd parent relief? Or would the stress of travel be too much to bear? In addition to that, we had decided that if little S and I were to come, we would take a separate flight home from my husband and my 16-year old stepson (who was heading along regardless as it was his school vacation week, and he would be meeting up with my in-laws to spend the week at a separate hotel in San Diego), because A) it was cheaper; and B) we didn’t want to risk bringing a crying baby on a red-eye – and the wrath that may cause.
In all honesty, however, the anxiety of the decision was actually the worst part. Once I decided that many of my fears of traveling with our daughter were unfounded (including my fear that if the plane went down and we all perished, it would be MY fault that my daughter perished as well, or my concern that we’d be seated next to an anti-vaxing yahoo that would give my daughter a Hepatitis-Polio-Whopping Cough cocktail or any disease she was not yet immune to), I decided that we should be where I would rather be, which was in sunny and moderately temperature California. The moment that we had the ticket purchased, the cloud of crippling anxiety started to lift, and I started to recognize the clear-headed planner in me. Each new concern or question that came up became something that I knew that I just needed to plan for. What do we bring? How do we feed her? How do we get through TSA? How do we get through the plan ride? How do I pump while we are on the go? What do we need when we get there?
Each trip we have taken since has brought about new challenges. I am still met with surprises and each time that we go away with little S, I learn something new to use for the next time. And my little girl has grown so much since that first trip, now a year and a half ago – and as she has grown, her needs have overwhelmingly changed. The one constant, however, is that I am just doing whatever I can do to push aside the anxieties and anticipate as many possible challenges as I can.
Okay, so now that I have thoroughly warned you that I don’t have any of the answers – in no particular order, and over the course of the next however-many posts, here is my traveling with baby advice.