As soon as I put out my first Instagram picture with our 11-month old baby boy in Tokyo, tons of messages with the same question came pouring in: how do I manage to travel to such a faraway destination with a mini? Did I bring a nanny? (no) Wasn't I stressed out about the 12-hour flight? (very much) Did I manage to pack light? (absolutely not) So I wanted to take the time to answer all of your questions, and share my experiences on how we like to take our little one with us on trips. Because even though it freaks us out sometimes, we're determined to make our boy into the world traveler we wanted him to be. :) My ultimate tips to travel with a baby: here goes!
PREPPING LIKE A PRO
DON'T FREAK OUT IN ADVANCE
As a new mama it's something I have to remind myself of on a daily basis: predicting the future is impossible - and that's okay. :) I am a control freak by nature, so not being able to have control over things as long flights and jetlags easily drives me crazy. I'll start to think of all the worst case scenarios, supposedly to 'prepare' myself mentally for what's coming. Of course, this stresses me out even more, not to mention that it's completely useless & unproductive. So my first piece of advice to travel with baby would honestly just be: don't freak out in advance! Thousands and thousands of people have done this before you, so trust in yourself - you got this.
SORT OUT YOUR PAPERWORK WELL IN ADVANCE
Because babies always look so tiny & cute you'd almost forget they also need the right documents to travel. :) So make sure to check the rules & regulations that apply for your destination country, and whether or not you'll be needing a special visa for your mini.
FORESEE THAT EVERYTHING WILL TAKE MORE TIME
Of all the things that babies are (cute! smiley! so sweet & cuddly!), being time efficient isn't one of them. Just about everything, including traveling, takes longer with a baby. So make sure to take that into account for every aspect of your journey, from packing your (many :)) bags to driving to the airport and checking in. The upside of traveling with a mini is that with most services such as checking your bags, going through security and boarding you get a priority treatment - much appreciated, right! :)
TAKE A COMPACT STROLLER PLUS A FABRIC CARRIER
This was actually something I didn't really thought through in advance, but I was so happy I brought along both our compact Babyzen stroller and Artipoppe fabric carrier on the plane! We used the stroller to check in, but this wasn't unloaded when we had to switch flights so then the fabric carrier (that I put into my carry-on bag) came in super handy.
GO FOR A DIAPER BACKPACK
Though I have a gazillion cute bags, I always prefer traveling with a diaper backpack (we love ours from Jem+Bea). It's just so much more practical to have your hands & arms free when you're on the go, especially when you're getting in and out of taxis with a wriggly baby.
PACK AN EMERGENCY KIT
Even though Gabriel hadn't been seriously ill before we traveled to Tokyo I brought half a pharmacy with me haha. I just really didn't want to end up in a situation where he'd be feeling unwell and Marcio & I would have to figure out Japanese prescriptions. I just focused on the essentials, and while we luckily ended up not using them, it gave me a lot of peace of mind to know they were there.
FLIGHT SURVIVAL TIPS
BOOK A NIGHT FLIGHT & BABY CRIB
I was honestly beyond nervous for Gabriel's first long flight to Tokyo, so we made sure to book a night flight. Best decision ever! He slept almost the entire 12-hour flight, and arrived happy & relaxed. We also booked a baby crib to put him down for the night, which gave us so much more freedom to move around and try to sneak in naps ourselves (if you don't have this option I'd recommend booking an extra seat so your babe can chill in his carrier). So yes, even if it's a bit more expensive: don't hesitate to book a night flight!
ENTERTAIN & FEED!
Gabriel is one of those babies who needs to be entertained pretty much the entire time. So I made sure to bring along all of his favourite toys as well as an iPad for some advanced entertaining when he started to get a little cranky. :) Little walks in the aisles and chats with the on-board flight attendants were also super great to soothe him. And speaking of cranky: there's nothing fun about a hangry mini so take full advantage of the fact that there's no fluids' limit on bringing water for your baby on the plane.
PUT A BACK-UP OUTFIT IN YOUR CARRY-ON
This is a better safe than sorry situation, because even when it's been a while since your baby had a diaper explosion or totally messed up his meal, chances are that he will choose a 12-hour flight as the perfect time for this. So always make sure to pack a back-up outfit in your carry-on, so you can arrive with a (more or less) clean mini.
I got a ton of questions about how to deal with a jetlagged 11-month old baby! I'm sure this is different for everyone, but what worked best for us was to instantly adjust his napping schedule to the local time. When we noticed he was getting tired in between we just let him have an additional short nap. Other than that, we made sure to recreate his usual evening routine on location: bath time (this is our fave travel bath from Stokke), reading a little book, and one last bottle before drifting off.
CONSIDER AN APARTMENT INSTEAD OF A HOTEL IN THE CITY CENTRE
We did consider to stay at a hotel (nothings beats room service, right? :)) but were happy to have gone for a 2-room city centre apartment instead. It's just so much easier to organise daytime naps when you have 2 separate rooms, not having to sneak around or freak out about making too much noise. As for the location, unless it's really your intention to escape, choosing accommodation in the city centre will make your life so much better. You can avoid long taxi or subway rides and be right where you want to in under 15 minutes, to make the most of in-between-nap times. Well worth the extra money that usually comes with a great location!
RENT THE BIG STUFF ON LOCATION
Though we do have an awesome travel crib, we opted to rent a baby crib on location instead of taking our own with us. We were in Tokyo for almost 2 weeks, so we weren't exactly traveling light to begin with. Adding a travel crib would've been overkill, and give that Japanese people are usually so efficient, I didn't think twice about renting a crib. Worked out super great! :)
PLAN YOUR DAYS & HAVE FUN!
Marcio & I have always been pretty spontaneous explorers. But it's honestly just so much more relaxed to travel with a baby when you more or less have an idea of your day-to-day schedule! Make a little map of all the hotspots you want to visit to see which ones are close together. Based on that, the weather and your mood you can make a travel itinerary, including must-do activities and your favourite food spots. And most of all: don't forget to have loooots of fun!! Because you can be sure that all the hassle and suffering will be forgotten, while the good memories will last forever. :)
Have you been traveling with your baby recently? I'd loooove to hear your tips! :)
Outfit details via @sofievalkiers