|Pre-Disney packing with the little guy|
While I have traveled quite a bit in my life, this is the first time that I have traveled with a small child that I was responsible for. Let me tell you, it is nerve-wracking! Our trip to Walt Disney World was the second long distance road trip that we have done this summer with our little bundle of joy. The first was a 12 hour drive out to Texas to visit my grandparents. Here are a few things that I learned from both experiences.
1. When in doubt, overpack
We had the luxury of packing our Suburban to the brim both times with baby gear. Usually, I abhor overpacking. I do not like taking a bunch of stuff that I end up not using. With a 2 month-old baby, you never know what you might need. I packed multiple extra outfits, tons of extra burp cloths, and three separate carrying devices (Solly Baby wrap, Ergobaby 360 carrier, and our BabyJogger City Select stroller).
The truth is that babies do not always behave the way you expect them to. Just because he is happy and relaxed today does not mean he will be that way tomorrow. So when you are not in your normal environment, it pays to have all the options available to you. Obviously, if you are flying then there is a limit to how much you can bring. I have yet to fly with him but I will definitely do a flying with baby post when that time comes.
2. A little extra preparation on the front end equals more relaxation on the back end
Take the time to organize that extra bit. Set up a diaper changing station in the car or maybe pack outfits or similar articles of clothing in plastic resealable bags. I personally like to "setup up shop" when I get to the hotel room. By putting everything in it's own spot and organizing the room a little makes me feel less as I am going through my day. It also helps when it is time to pack up and go home. This trip, I really took advantage of the closet space in our hotel. I used the closets as a place to corral all the dirty laundry. When it was time to pack up, I simply had to open the closet and put all the things on the floor in the suitcase. Keeping all the clothes in one place kept the room from getting too dirty and sped up the packing process.
3. Set yourself up for success
Make naps and feeding a priority. Do not let the expectations of others dictate your baby's schedule. This is hard for me because I am a people pleaser to the core. I had to come to terms with the fact that trying to fit my baby's schedule into someone else's plans was not going to turn out well for anyone. He was fussy or irritable because his napping and feeding pattern was disrupted by visits when we in Texas. At Disney, I was in charge of much of the planning so I worked to schedule our daily activities around his routine. There were still times, however, that I had to leave the fun to take care of him. You cannot have FOMO as a parent. There will be many times that what is best for your baby is not what is the most fun for you. The payoff comes when you have a happy, content baby for longer periods of time. By missing out on a little here and there, you will have a overall more enjoyable travel experience.
4. Be ok with winging it
There will be times that your best planning with fall through. There will not be a good place to nurse. You will forget your pack-n-play in the car after it has been valet parked and you can't get it (yes, I had to create a little bed on the floor for my 8 week-old baby. That same evening, I forgot to get extra diapers. #parentingfail) There is a strength to being able to roll with the punches. The first evening we were at Disney we had dinner reservations for a dinner-musical event. Little baby was screaming before we even got seated. I had a feeling he was hungry. I did not want to leave or make Scott leave but I knew that shoving the paci in the little guy's mouth was only going to work for so long. Thankfully, we were seated in the very back and the lights were fairly dim. I whipped out that nursing cover and tried my hand at my first public feeding session. It was difficult. I did not get to eat right away even though I was famished but the little guy was quieted. What had the makings of a disaster ended up being a pretty pleasant evening. Plus, I gained a whole lot of confidence from solving the problem.
5. Ask for help
This one is probably the hardest for me to come to terms with. I would consider myself and incredibly independent person. I have always enjoyed doing it myself. Well, this Disney trip would not have been possible if I had to do it on my own. Not only was my husband incredibly supportive and helpful, but my mother in-law went above and beyond to help out with the little guy. She would wait for us while we rode rides and took him back to the hotel early so we could move faster through the parks. She was basically super grandma. All of the planning in the world could not have made a difference without her help. I just had to be ok with asking for it.
The main thing is to do what you think is right for your family. If you do not know what to do, seek wise counsel. There are tons of men and women who are older and wiser out there. If you do not have someone who is an older parent, who you respect, then find someone. Even if it is to just bounce ideas off of, it will be very helpful. While there a few guiding principles that apply across the board, how they play out in each family is very different. Do what you think is best and if that does not work try something else. The goal is not being perfect from the beginning. Rather it is to find out what works for you and your baby. Keep that in mind when you are making travel plans and I am sure things will go more smoothly.