Sunday, April 28, 2013

Traveling with a sweet baby

Well, it was another whirlwind weekend for us in the Abel household, holy canoli!  We brought Ledoux on her very first 'real' trip!  We have taken a couple roadies here and there, but nothing like this!  Lee's little brother and his wife are having a baby girl, and this weekend was their baby shower.  Paired with the promise we made to visit Texas (where Lee is from) before Ledoux turned one, we decided this was the perfect weekend to go visit, go to the baby shower, and introduce our little doodlebug to all of her family in Texas!  Here is what our weekend looked like:

Can you say crazy?  CRAZY.  When I booked all of this, I thought it looked pretty good on paper.  I mean, how bad can it be to do all of this? In a weekend?  With a baby?  Shucks, this will be nothing.  Oh my gosh, what the hell was I thinking?  Clearly, I must have had a glass  bottle of wine when I put together this travel itinerary. No, I am not kidding.  I must have had a bottle of wine.  The visit was totally worth it, but never again in my life will I choose price of tickets over ease of travel.  At the time that I did all of my brilliant travel plans, I was more worried about price (mostly because we were getting ready to close on our house and I wanted to save where I could...) and less concerned with the fact that I was going to do all of this with an 8 month old in a weekend. 

I have a post in the works about Ledoux's trip to Texas (stay tuned later in the week!) but I felt it important to share my words of wisdom (or lack thereof) when it comes to traveling with a small little babe, to save any of you brave mamas getting ready to venture out on your first big airplane adventure with the wee one.

1.) Don't drink and book your travel.

2.) Think ease over cost.  If you are going to travel, wait until you can afford to choose the flights and times that work best for you.  Translation: don't do priceline.  I did priceline, and in an effort to find the best possible price for tickets (I was on a serious hunt!), I chose the 'name your own price' option, and selected the box that said search 'surrounding airports'...which ended up scheduling me for flights out of Phoenix (rather than Tucson, where I live, and is about 110 miles from the Phoenix airport.)  Oh, and the flight back was at the un-godly hour of 6:30 am. Texas time.  Which is 4:30 am my time.  Which means we had to be up and at the airport at 2:30 am our time.  Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid.  Priceline is great, but not so great when you have a baby to consider, and no flexibility in the times/schedules of flights.  The cheaper fare is not worth the hassle. Two years ago, when it was just me and Lee, I could have cared less.  Today, I care.  Also, when possible, pay the extra moo-lah for direct flights.  The worst thing is having to land, wake up your sleeping babe, and then have a layover.  And then do it all over again.  (I am exhausted just thinking about this!)

3.) Speaking of layovers, if you do have one, make sure it is long enough to go have a drink you have plenty of toys to keep the babe busy.  I didn't go overboard, but brought a blanket (for her to sit if she ever just sits), a rattle, a teether, and a couple of her favorite toy books to play with.  Let's face it, she'd rather play with my water bottle anyway. Or my beer mug at the airport bar. :)

4.) When choosing your flights, plan them around feeding times. The flights I happened to get corresponded perfectly with Ledoux's feeding times.  So each time the plane took off, we had a bottle ready to go, and gave it to her as the plane left the ground.  This worked well for two reasons: the bottle helped put her to sleep for the majority of the flight, and her ears didn't get sensitive to the pressure change because she was sucking/swallowing on something during takeoff.

5.) If possible (meaning you are traveling in the US) keep the baby, and yourselves, on the same schedule.  With the time changes, it can be hard to keep their routines consistent.  But we did, and it was great.  Although Texas was 2 hours ahead of time, we kept Ledoux on her Arizona schedule, so her feedings/naps/bedtime did not change, even though the time change did.  It may be a little inconvenient, but I would rather have a happy baby then the alternative! (For example, in Ledoux's world, she wakes up at 6 am, which was 8 am Texas time.  Instead of waking her up, we let her sleep until her normal wake up time, so she was on Arizona time the whole time we were there.)  Yes, it meant we didn't get going quite as early, and had lunch a little later, but we also had a happy baby. On a side note, why the heck do we have time zones?  Add that to the list of things that really suck when you have a baby.

6.) Leave the car seat and pack and play at home.  Unless you are super attached to them, leave them.  Rental car companies have car seats, and I gladly paid $10 extra for one versus lugging it around the airport and dealing with the hassle.  Also, when booking your hotels, call ahead and make sure they have cribs.  I brought my own bedding for the crib, but just had the hotel bring the actual crib to our room.  It was so nice to not look like a pack mule in the airport, pulling all of that stuff along with me.

7.) Baby doesn't need an ID card to travel.  Actually, unless your baby looks 2, they don't need any documentation.  Lee and I were halfway to Phoenix when we realized we had nothing to prove Ledoux was ours, or when she was born, or who she was, etc... and had a moment of panic.  After frantically calling the airline, we were reassured to find out they needed nothing unless there may be a question as to her age (meaning she might be close to 2 years old, which is the age that babies must have a paid seat). 

8.) Buy your diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, etc. when you get to your destination. Who wants to pay those ridiculous baggage fees? And lug around heavy bags?  I opted to stock Ledoux's diaper bag with enough dipeys, wipes, and food to last us a full day...and bought the rest when we got to Texas. (Hellooooo, excuse to go to Target!) Not having an entire suitcase full of all of that stuff was great.  I also planned out each outfit (from baby bow to outfit to shoes) and put them in ziploc bags to save space.  It made it super easy to pick out her outfits, as I just pulled out a bag.  Of course, in baby land, you always pack way more than you need in case of a nasty little blow out surprise.

9.) Plan ahead. Easy enough, right?  I checked in online to our flights and printed our boarding passes, paid our nasty baggage fees online, and had everything ready to roll out the door the night before.  It made it all so much easier that we didn't have to stand in line to check in at the airport, and could just drop off our bags and head to security.  Obvi, with a baby, even as prepared as you are, something will still come up--- so control what you can.  These things, I can control.  The blowout all over her new babygap outfit as we walked out the door? Uncontrollable.  It's always something *fake smile*

So there you have it, my tips for traveling with baby!  All in all, the travel itself was much easier than I had imagined, thanks to these little things we did.  I am all about easy travel, mostly because travel is just stressful by nature.  And on a side note, I really got a kick out of the people who would look at us and our baby, and quickly go sit on the other side of the airport like we had the plague.  I laughed on the inside knowing that I knew what they were thinking... "Please don't let me have to sit next to them on the airplane..."  Trust me rude airport people, we probably don't want to sit next to you either.
So excited to go on her first trip!

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