traveling with my baby.

it's been a long weekend. on Wednesday, i spent all morning packing for the weekend for Ricky, Amos, and I - not the easiest task with a teething toddler - but we made it through. I've become a chronic over-packer, as it seems to be less stressful to have too much to choose from than not enough. For our 5 day trip we had 2 large suitcases and a couple random bags. I know, I know... it's embarrassing.

ricky got off work early and we took the 5-6 hour roadtrip up the coast of California, through L.A., to Hanford California where Ricky's family is from. we were going to attend his uncle's funeral - who had passed the previous week.

road trips with babies aren't easy - and we've done our fair share. Even more than that, I've flown with Amos since he was 5 weeks old and on multiple occasions by myself. each time i've honestly only gotten through by keeping my heart in prayer through out (to get through frustrations, stress, anxiety, whatever) and viewing the event like a marathon. i know i have to just keep going until the end, but once i get there - I CAN RELAX!

i like things planned out, and seem to thrive in those situations. this has made my marriage with ricky veryyyyy interesting, as he will do anything possible to avoid planning. :) because of this tendency, i have always went into each flight and trip with an action plan. 

i wanted to make a list of baby/toddler traveling tips i've learned along the way.

i'm still no expert. i honestly always look like the frazzled woman with bags falling off my shoulders, and crazy in my eyes. but i think i've gotten a little better over the past 15 months.

taking a long pitstop and letting amos feel the air on a road trip up the coast when amos was 4 or so months old.
some entertainment (from plane ride, but applies anywhere) and some car entertainment. mirror and sophie.

Amos helping out with some of the long hours of driving. 

Stopping about an hour away from home during a road trip up the coast because Amos wouldn't stop crying.

Road Trips

- When Amos was a baby the biggest thing was to FILL HIM TO THE BRIM WITH MILK and get him super sleepy right before we left. I also prepared for milk stops every 2 to 3 hours.

Toddler: (Now that Amos is older, it's actually a lot more difficult to keep him entertained because his little legs want to run around.)
- Run them into the ground the day you are planning to leave. Get them outside. Play tag, throw around a ball, let them exert all that toddler energy so they will crash in the car.
- Leave at nap time, and if possible (and even better), leave at bedtime. When we do this Amos is guaranteed to sleep the entire trip. 
- Bring a bag (or basket) of car approved snacks. I try to avoid processed snacks, but traveling is the best situation to bust them out. They prepackaged and cleaner than handing them blueberries (CAN YOU IMAGINE?). So find your Annie's bunnies and Mum Mums - this is the time to get them. Keep this in your reach to give child to stall before the dinner stop.
- Bring a bag (or basket) of BOOKS. I feel as if books have more longevity in entertaining in the car than toys. On this last trip I brought about 40 books and Amos went through them all, because on our way back we left post nap time (BAD IDEA) and he was bored 5 minutes into the drive.
- Reading the books to them will prolong the entertainment value and time span of each book.
- Bring a kid friendly CD you can sing too. This is a great last resort. The entire last hour of our drive into LA on Saturday was Ricky and I singing and creating verses for Wheels on the Bus. It was insane, but Amos made it through.
- If your trip is 3+ hours and you know they won't stay asleep, plan for a lengthy stop for them to run around. On our way there, to avoid LA traffic, we stopped right before the city and had a long, leisurely dinner and then let Amos run free. Once he was stuffed and tired, he slept the rest of the way there.
- Water cups! 2 in case they throw the first one out of your reach.
- GPS. check traffic beforehand and along the way. do what you can to get there as quickly as possible - and organize stops to avoid sitting in traffic.

- and the biggest suggestion I have is WAIT to bring out your entertainment ammo until they are generally in need of it. if you throw all your big tricks out the first hour, when they would have been content staring out the window, you'll be desperate your last hour.

Add babywearing in the bathroom (reality when flying by yourself) and some lay out time during layover.
bundling amos up on his second plane trip at 6 weeks. our second flight was delayed because of snow and i had to entertain him for a 6 hour layover! ahh!
snacks, snacks, and more snacks!!

taking turns with amos on our plane ride to st. louis over Christmas.
when amos was small he would sleep through our entire travel days.

Plane Rides

- Keep them awake until on plane.
- Time your nursing or bottle for the ascent (and descent) - this probably isn't as important if they gladly take a pacifier. It helps with pressure, and can calm them.
- Family boarding. Get close to the front, so you can get off sooner - because I've noticed Amos got the fussiest after landing and in the cabin waiting.
- Window seat is better - especially for nursing.
- Change the diaper right before, and if the baby is fussy. Change the diaper in the bathroom and TAKE YOUR TIME in there. It's a time killer - and it's relaxing to get away from everyone. No one will be upset if you are in there for a long time and come out with a baby.
- Pay the extra $50 for a nonstop if you have too. It will be worth your sanity.
- If you have to have a layover. Get one that gives you enough time to change a diaper and get to your terminal.
- Bring a baby carrier. Forget the stroller.

The younger Amos was, the easier it was to travel with him. He honestly slept through most the flights, or nursed through them.

- If you are a couple, have your husband go in at family boarding to get a seat (he might have to explain his plan) and then wait until final boarding before you and toddler board. Then he can have more time to run around and less time to be frustrated at the small space.
- Upon boarding (especially if you are alone), put diaper bag in middle seat. Usually people will avoid sitting by you anyway, because you have a child, and if it's not a full flight, you may get away with having that seat free the whole flight. This has happened to me almost every flight. Of course, if they ask you to move it - move it with a smile. Chances are they like babies and want to help entertain them. 
- load iphone with at least one or two episodes of yo gabba gabba (even if you are a TV no-no, this is a time you will want to make an exception) and a toddler game or two.
- transfer your diaper bag into a backpack and check everything else so you can have all your hands. (especially important if traveling alone).
- ditch stroller and use baby carrier.
- Fill bag with SNACKS (as stated above), sippy cup with 1/2 juice, 1/2 water or something special for them to suck on on ascent or descent to help with ears.
- Nurse them on ascent and descent if possible, or give them bottle, or pacifier.
- Skip the in-flight drink. I've spilled mine twice.
- Purchase a couple new books and toys for fresh entertainment.
- Time flight during nap. I'd rather have a baby who fusses for the first 15 minutes, but then sleeps on me the final 2 1/2 hours. Takes way less energy and people will be okay.
- I'd try and rock baby to sleep a couple times prior to flight so if you have to, he or she is use to going to sleep that way.
- Let them tear apart the skymall magazine. it's free and they love it.
- Don't be afraid to hog the bathroom for awhile (like I stated above) to buy time and give them something fresh to look at. Just let them look in the mirror for awhile.
- Walk the aisles. I've done this an entire flight before. Amos has kicked people on accident, but at least he wasn't screaming.
- Old people are usually the nicest. Even business men.
- Again, pay the extra for a nonstop if you can.
- Bring extra blankets - two are three. These will help if the baby/toddler falls asleep and you can shove them under your arm for support or around your neck so you can sleep too.
- And if worst comes to worst, and they scream the whole time - you'll get through it and you'll never see the people again - so it's okay. Some people are impatient or rude, but most are genuinely kind and helpful.
- Clothe baby and yourself in layers so you can adjust to warm or cold temperatures.
- Keep cash, ticket, and ID in carrier, pocket, or bra (i've resulted in this and think it's the best way) for easy access - especially if your baby falls asleep and you have to reach for it. don't carry anything else but baby until you can reorganize after security.

What tips have you learned when traveling with a baby, toddler, or child? I'd love to learn more!


also, check out a giveaway over at mycakies for a stationary set created by me!!!

and this episode is an hilarious explanation of baby traveling, and why not buy one of these to help you through the airport. haha.

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