Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Travel & vacations with baby - tips & lessons learned!

Well, we're back from our fun & sun-filled cottage trip, and as usual it went way too fast! It's after 12:30 AM so I *should* be in bed, however I thought I'd quickly whip out the post that was percolating in my head during our drive back.

As those of you with kids would surely agree, travelling and vacationing with babies (and older kids too, I would certainly imagine!) is quite a bit different than with adults exclusively. While we got a taste of this during our weekend trip to Picton, it really hit home during our cottage vacation. As such, I thought I'd share some of the lessons we learned and helpful tips we discovered!
  • Scheduling travel time during baby's sleeping hours is ideal! We decided to leave the Bruce tonight after dinner and S slept the entire ride home. This was a stark contrast to our return trip from Picton during which we frantically rotated toys and busted out every song in the book in an attempt to coax her out of her "I hate being restained in this seat!" crying fit.
  • Stackable and sortable toys are the bomb. They take up less space, provide a versatile playing experience (so baby is probably less likely to get bored of them) and are sand (and other grime) resilient. S was content to independently play with her stacking cups and Fisher Price shape sorting box on many occasions during our trip!

  • Getting organized and establishing schedules/routines early on in your trip is super-helpful. For example, if your baby is on solids, find a convenient home for her food & accessories as soon as you can and institute an efficient cleaning routine. I brought along our kitchen wetbag which really came in handy for S's used bibs and wash cloths.
  • When packing your vehicle, order & accessibility of key items becomes much more important! Food & water, diaper bag and toys (in particular) need to be easily within reach.
  • Cloth diapering while traveling / cottaging is totally doable - particularly if you have access to a washer. (Otherwise I can see it being much more of a PITA.) I filled one entire suitcase with S's stash, laid out her portable change mat on the couch in our room, threw a pillow on the floor to cushion the knees and voila - accessible and at least moderately ergonomic changing station! :)
  • While on the topic of cloth diapers, disposable liners are a nice diapering accessory on the go. As my husband put it, a liner is basically a diaper sprayer in another form. :) Although they're not perfect (bunching & whatnot), they can definitely make poopy diaper changes less messy in lieu of said sprayer. (We learned this firsthand at the Timmy's north of Espanola.)
  • Don't expect to catch up on sleep during your trip! In our case, S nipped any desire for this in the bud by falling asleep later, waking up earlier and napping for shorter stretches. Kind of makes sense as she was exposed to so many exciting new sensations and experiences, but a little exhausting at the same time! Luckily we had many other family members eager to spend time with our li'l monkey which allowed us to get in some R&R!
  • Finally, if you're like me, vacationing can help you realize that babies are, indeed, quite robust and that a little dirt truly isn't a bad thing. S enjoyed a speedy motorboat ride, splashed away in quite frigid lake water and took advantage of the (decidedly non-pristine) area rugs at each cottage to work on her crawling (and associated face planting). But ehhh - through all that, she's just fine. :)

Anyone have any other helpful tips or lessons learned when it comes to travelling and vacation with little ones? Feel free to share!!


  1. It's amazing how little a baby needs really. Spoons, water bottles, and plastic containers make great toys (and since they're 'new', are much more exciting than the ones brought to entertain baby!). We also found these two items very handy when travelling:
    Peapod travel bed:

  2. Just checked out your vacay post - awesome! Yeah, we ended up cramming the van FULL, mostly with Starryn's stuff. (Though we did have a lot of big items like the cooler, fishing gear, inflatable rafts, etc. as well.) We were chatting about how we'd need to be a lot more selective if we flew somewhere rather than drove.

    Love the idea of the totseat! A friend of mine won one in a giveaway. Hadn't heard of the Peapod up until this point but looks nifty as well.

    And totally hear ya re: toys. Throw a water bottle or set of keys into a toy pile and it's inevitably the first item baby goes for!

  3. I'm jealous of your cottage vacay, even if it was a short one. Glad you had a good time and managed to snag some R&R.

  4. We SWEAR by travelling at night. Punky used to get car sick,which is why we started, but Flintstone also hated his car seat when he came along, so it's great.

    We;ve always cloth diapered on trips, but this next trip, I'm not so sure. The solid poops make things significantly more messy.

    Thanks for the reminder on the liners! We have two rolls of them that I completely forgot we even had!

  5. I was just gone for a two week long trip to my parents' house, 16 hour car ride & 5 hour boat ride away. It was my 10 month old son's first trip! My tip: don't get them used to sleeping in your room and/or bed while vacationing if you don't want to continue at home. Ugg! My little man has turned into a big monster at night ever since we have been back.

  6. @Colleen - yeah I'd definitely recommend giving the liners a try before you give up on CDing for your next trip! Especially since you already have some kicking around!

    @Kristen - wow, long trip! My husband and I were wondering about the sleeping in room thing but our daughter thankfully went back to sleeping in her crib pretty well. Hopefully your little guy settles back into his routine for you guys soon!