Traveling with Three

Travel for three is harder than travel for two. That’s no surprise. Despite the void on this blog, our travel adventures haven’t stopped, just the writing about them. As K mentioned, our blog writing time has been displaced by time spent on other things. In a way, it is a shame, because traveling with a baby opens up a whole new set of considerations and experiences that would be worth writing about.

  • booking airfare for an infant and whether it is better to try and get the bassinet seat or strategize for an empty middle seat
  • packing light but still being prepared for everything
  • is it better to take the baby carrier or the pram/pushchair/stroller
  • getting around without a car seat
  • taking fruit through US customs
  • planning schedules around naps and meals
  • dealing with time zone changes

We just returned from our first major family holiday in Costa Rica, but this wasn’t our first trip by any means. W turned 10 months while we were in Costa Rica and has been to 5 countries and 2 continents during that time. I’ll provide a recap of our trips since last year and a few of the lessons learned.

  • St. Ives – In July we took our first trip — a domestic weekend getaway. Our travel strategy was to build up from short trips to larger journeys. We headed to Cornwall on the train for a weekend to celebrate K’s birthday. W dipped his toes in the sea, watched seals playing on the beach, and added his mark to an art exhibition at the Tate museum. It was our first experience with figuring out what to pack. We took the Baby Bjorn and left the pram behind which worked really well as the pram would have been frustrating on the steps, cobblestone streets and seaside trails. W could take in all the surroundings when facing out and nap while facing in. We brought plenty of extra clothes for W, but didn’t consider that we’d need extra clothes as well. Baby mess isn’t confined to only baby :-).
  • Netherlands – In August we took our first flight with W — a short trip to a friend’s wedding in Netherlands. This was W’s first new country and first flight (and first wedding). He breastfed and slept through the flight which won W gold stars from fellow passengers as we were able to avoid being ‘those people’ with the screaming baby. This was also our first time through airport security which was an absolute disaster. With all our travel we have a bit of a system to efficiently get through security. This time we were unprepared and our stuff was scattered across two different lanes, I lost my shoes and the security staff disassembled our pram which we weren’t sure how to put it back together. Fortunately the rest of the trip was much smoother.
  • United States – In September we took our first major trip with a long-haul flight back to the States to visit family and friends. W fed donkeys on the farm, sat on a tractor, played in his own inflatable pool, and had his first taste of solid food. This was the last of our three step travel strategy and W was great once again on the flights. The time difference made adjusting sleep schedules a bit tricky; we were up at 3-4am the first couple mornings. We didn’t have to pack much as our parents were eagerly prepared to receive their grandchild with car seats, travel cots, diapers, strollers and anything else we could possibly need. It makes it easy to travel light when all your gear is already at the destination.
  • Barcelona – In October K and W took a few days to visit a friend in Barcelona. W played on the beach and the playgrounds in the city and could talk to the other kids in Spanish ;-). A weekend trip like this now seems easy, though having a great host (as in the States) really helps.
  • Costa Rica – In February we took our first family holiday together in Costa Rica. We got an opportunity to practice our Spanish, do a bit of hiking and relax on the beach. We took both the Baby Bjorn and the Bush Baby backpack carrier. The backpack was great for hiking and longer walks, while the smaller Baby Bjorn was perfect for shorter trips around town. It may seem silly to have both, but we were glad that we did. Stay tuned for another post soon with more about this trip.

W has become a great travel partner. I’d like to say that it has something to do with the way we are raising him, but it is probably just that we won the baby lottery. Here are a few things that we’ve learned and have made our travels easier.

  • Breastfeeding – It’s wonderful. It makes things so much easier both from the perspective of feeding and comfort. With new and different places, sometime W just wants that comfort that only come from Mom. Obviously there is less to carry and it is available anywhere, anytime. We’ve continued breastfeeding longer than we anticipated because it does work so well.
  • Baby-led weaning – We discovered a book on baby-led weaning and felt like we discovered secret treasure. We skipped the purees and baby-food; W started eating food from the table, feeding himself, when he was ready. We include him at the table at every meal and eat together as a family. From a travel perspective, W eats what we eat so there is no concern about having to carry special food for him or finding baby food at the destination. In combination with breastfeeding this makes feeding so easy — except for a bit of mess, so we pack some extra wipes.
  • Bed sharing – I’m not as proud of this one as the breastfeeding and baby-led weaning. Due to a number of circumstances, W sometimes shares the bed with us. I was adamantly against this before becoming a parent, but sometimes becoming a parent changes your perspective. Because W is accustomed to sleeping with us at times, we don’t have to have a separate bed for him when we travel. That means we don’t have to carry a travel cot with us, and we can be more flexible in our accommodation. This one is a bit of a blessing in disguise.
  • Baby Carrier – Our pram/pushchair/stroller is fantastic and we love it. When traveling though, just having the Baby Bjorn or Bush Baby backpack can make getting around much easier. It can depend on the type of trip and destination though.
  • Shop at your destination – We learned that we don’t need to take everything with us. There are babies all over the world and they all need diapers, wipes, and other various things. We make sure that we have the essentials for the initial journey and any potential emergencies (e.g. allergy medication), and then buy what we need along the way.
  • Flexible schedule – Traveling inevitably means that the typical daily schedule is going to be disturbed. We don’t adhere to a strict schedule (aka Gina Ford) but do have a regular pattern we try to follow (e.g. morning nap, afternoon nap, bedtime routine). We learned that while W is a real trooper and adapts well, we need a bit of consistency and plan around his naps and meals where we can. This makes him much happier.

That briefly covers most of the travel since last year. We’ll have our Costa Rica post up with photos soon, so stay tuned!

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