Prepping for Baby’s First Trip: Top 6 Concerns

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We are about to travel for the first time as a family of four with our two month old, and even though I have traveled with a kiddo more times than I can count, this is still a first.  While we did do some road trips (to visit grandparents) with my first daughter starting when she was just a few weeks old, we 7 Concerns about Baby's First Tripdidn’t fly with her when she was this little.  With a road trip you can pull over as much as you want, fill the car to the brim with “gear and supplies”, and run into a store to get anything you may have forgotten or suddenly decided you need along the way.

When you are strapped into a plane flying at 35,000 feet and heading to another country, all of those things that make a road trip a little easier with an infant are out the window.  I know that no matter what I do there will be some things that go well, some that don’t go as well, and we will (God willing) get from Point A, to Point B, and back again despite whatever tears and stress we may encounter along the way.

That said, I want to keep stress and tears to the minimum required threshold (this is a “working vacation” after all), so as I am prepping our family for this new sort of adventure there are naturally some things I am more concerned about than others.  Since this is what is on my mind, I thought I’d share my thoughts both so I can look back on it later and see how my concerns played out, and in case it is interesting to others in a similar situation.

Hoping the trip is a success...but preparing for the "worst"

Hoping the trip is a success…but preparing for the “worst”

1.  Crying on the plane

This is probably most parents’ number one concern when traveling with a baby, and indeed it was the first thing my husband mentioned when I asked what he was most concerned about for our upcoming trip.  Our flights aren’t terribly long at about 2 1/2 hours scheduled, but we all know that delays can stretch that number.  My two month old does cry.  Shocking, I know.  I’m betting pretty much all babies cry, it’s kind of their thing.

Since of course she doesn’t cry while she is nursing, my plan is to nurse her as much as possible on the flight.  If we win the baby lottery, she will fall asleep nursing and we will simply not move or breathe while she is passed out and hope that when she wakes up she will be happy to nurse some more until we land and all deplane with smiles on our faces.

However, that plan may or may not work out.  Sometimes she is just not in the mood to pass out and be peaceful while nursing and she may want to bounce, rock, explore, etc…all of which is difficult to impossible in an airplane seat.  If only they made rocking airplane seats…

So, we are just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best on this one.  Thankfully it isn’t a terribly long or overnight flight where folks are trying to sleep for hours.  I can promise we will be doing everything possible to keep her quiet and happy for as much of the flight as possible, but some of this will be left up to chance based on her mood, unfortunately.

Here are some tips for your child’s first flight

2.  Diaper changes on regional jet

One of our flights is on a regional jet, specifically the CRJ-700, and from what I can tell based on some online research, I don’t believe United has changing tables on these planes.  I hope I am wrong, but that will make for an interesting situation if she needs a diaper change…and that is quite likely given her regular diaper changing schedule.  Again, we are just going to have to change her right before the flight and really cross our fingers there are no serious diaper incidents while on board.  If there are, we will just have to get creative and fix the situation as best we can until we land back in Houston (luckily for everyone diapers from breastfed babies don’t really stink nearly to the extent of other diapers).

3.  All sleeping (or not sleeping) in one room at the resort

My personal largest concern isn’t related to the 2.5 hour flight, but instead it is related to all sleeping together in one room for three nights.  Baby S has had a few nights where she slept at night for 8 hour stretches, but then she will turn right around and take hours to go down in the evening, or get up four times in the night.  In other words, her sleep is still very unpredictable even at home – I’m sure on the road it will only be even more unpredictable.

At home we can keep our five year old mostly sheltered from the noise so her sleep isn’t too disturbed, and my husband and I can take turns so that we aren’t both up all night.  However, when we are all in one hotel room I highly doubt any of us will be getting much sleep if S has a bad night.  We can have her crib in the bathroom with the door shut, but that will only slightly muffle the normal sleeping noises the baby makes – it certainly won’t drown out screams.  Since we are staying at a resort, we will have the option of walking around outside with her if she is unhappy in the evening which will help a little.  We will also have earplugs/headphones available for our daughter and whichever parent is “taking a break” from tending to the little one.

I would have loved to upgrade to a suite of some sort, but the price to do so when I inquired was pretty staggering.  I’ll inquire again at check-in, but since we don’t have top status with SPG at the moment, I’m 99% sure we will be relegated to a normal room this time around.

Sure do wish there was at least a rocking chair…

4.  Finding time for activities

The next concern is that we will go through all the hassle of getting to our vacation destination only to not really be able to find the time to take advantage of the activities there.  Since S isn’t at an age yet where she can do much of anything, we will be taking turns doing things like swimming, playing at the beach, etc. which could be totally fine, or it could be a bit of a drag.  There is a kid’s club that our older daughter can also visit, but our little one is far too little to be able to go there.

We could hire a babysitter through the resort at an hourly rate, but I’m not sure how I feel about a stranger caring for our newborn in a foreign country.  Well, I guess I am sure how I feel about it, and it isn’t good.  If we were able to have someone watch her while we were more or less in eye-shot that would work, but I wouldn’t personally feel comfortable going off and doing something else away from the baby and babysitter in this situation.

5.  Finding things I can eat

Thanks to Baby S’s tummy issues, I am on a pretty restrictive diet that includes no dairy, soy, nut, or eggs.  I am having a hard enough time here finding things to eat around here when I don’t have time to cook at home, and this issue will only be magnified when I am at the mercy of a resort to have food available that I can eat.  To help with this situation I am packing my own snacks to bring, and I have also been in contact with the food and beverage team at the resort in advance to try and identify menu items that will be safe for me to eat.  Thankfully if I slip up it isn’t a life threatening situation, but it will pretty much guarantee a fussier and more uncomfortable baby…

Since I am nursing I also have to drink water way more frequently than normal, which could be pricy at a resort with water bottles unless we plan ahead and get some of our own at a local store.  These eating restrictions in addition to being an added challenge are also a bit of a bummer since eating is one of my favorite things to do while on vacation – I really feel for those who have to deal with restrictive diets on a more permanent basis!

6.  Not having the baby gear we want

At home we have baby gear like rocking chairs, baby bathtubs, changing tables, a swing, endless diapers and clothes, etc. and on vacation we will not have most of those things at all, and the things we do have will be in limited supply.  Baby S is a “spitter”, so we will have to pack extra clothes, burp rags, etc. to deal with that reality.  This may lead to having to pay resort prices for a load of clean laundry before the end of the trip, but we will pack some extra items and see how it all plays out.

Should we even travel at all

Now is where I could put on my Pollyanna bonnet, but I’m not going to.  The reality is that now clearly isn’t the best time to head out on a trip, at least not under this set of circumstances.  If our baby didn’t have any tummy issues, I could eat whatever I wanted, we were going somewhere with more room to spread out, or with more family members available, etc. it might make more sense, but this situation is not exactly ideal.  I can spin it any way I want, but the truth is that we have already cancelled or delayed two trips we should have already been on at this point, and we just can’t push them off any longer.  Like it or not, this is a trip we need to make work and we are just hoping that it works out as good as it possibly can.

I am a bit worried that this trip will add to our collective stress levels rather than diminish them, but I’m also happy about the prospect of a change of scenery.  I know what my biggest concerns are (and now so do you), and I will plan potential solutions for as many of them as possible in advance.  I hope that relaxing in a beautiful environment will be a welcome change for all of us and that the issues we face will be relatively minor and fleeting.  Either way, I promise I will share the adventure so we can all laugh (or maybe cry) together!

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  1. I hope you and your family have a wonderful trip. It’s smart to prepare for the worst but I’m sure you all are going to enjoy the first trip with Baby S! My family waited a bit longer to travel with babies but when we did it was pretty amazing. My daughter began walking on her first trip to Hawaii. Baby S is far too young to celebrate any major milestones during this trip but you too will be able to look back at this trip and remember what a special time it was for your whole family.

  2. I don’t think I’m the only one here who appreciates how down-to-Earth your posts are. Since traveling with two kids is more stressful, at times on vacation I’ve caught myself wondering if its really worth it, but then you get those few moments when you get a chance to relax and finally take a breath, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I hope your trip goes well and everything goes as smoothly as possible! Best of luck!

  3. Why don’t you use points and get a second room. It will relieve a lot of the stress and anxiety and will allow you to enjoy the trip more. (I know it will cost more but I think the benefit will far outweigh the cost).

  4. On the upside, think of the awesome white noise she’ll have to help her sleep! If she’s a lap baby, our pediatrician gave us the tip to put our legs next to each other to give her a nice resting spot.

  5. Best of luck to you and your family on your trip! We took our son on a plane for the first time at 10 weeks. It was Thanksgiving and my whole extended family was gathering and we didn’t want to miss it. It was a bit intense at times. All of the family and the holiday meant that we couldn’t be as laid-back and my husband and I probably would have preferred to be. But we have nice memories of that trip. I’m sure there will be tough moments for you guys, but I bet there will be great ones too! At least you’re pretty much guaranteed to get some good stories out of it!

  6. If the mystery country is Mexico any Mexican place will have purified water for you to drink. I wouldn’t drink what comes out of the tap, even at a resort, but you shouldn’t have to carry water with you everywhere you go. If the Caribbean I have no information.

    Unless you absolutely must stay at this resort for a conference or professional reasons could this be a situation in which you may be subjecting yourself to unnecessary discomfort out of mistaken sense of brand loyalty? You could probably get two rooms at a local place for less than the cost of one at a resort (again, depending somewhat on what country you’re actually visiting — it’s certainly the case in Mexico).

  7. Hope you guys have a great trip!

    I traveled with my 2 sons and husband a few months ago when my baby was 2 months old too. We had 2 double beds and a cot in our hotel room. Even though we had him in his own crib and room at home, it was way easier for me to co-sleep with the baby so I could nurse/pacify as soon as he started to rustle and prevent any crying and waking of his older brother. This worked quite well and the trip was great overall!

  8. MP, you say…. “this is a trip we need to make work and we are just hoping that it works out as good as it possibly can.” What does that mean? Is this trip TRULY and REALLY necessary? Will your world end if you cancel and don’t go? Can it possibly be worth it other than for another article that most people would not find useful as they would NOT put themselves in your situation? Your Top Six Concerns listed above only raises questions as to why you deem it all necessary.

    • Can’t we just take her word that they need to go and leave it at that? She earns an income from this blog and her status as a miles and points guru. Who are we to question whether it’s truly necessary or not.

  9. We just got back last week from a trip and I’d like to share the best thing we did on our flight. We have a daughter that just turned 4 months old during our trip. She’s also a spitter-upper. While traveling we kept a bib on her the entire time and used it in case of a spit up. It would have been so much more difficult to keep track of a burp cloth or to have had to change outfits. I’d do it all over again. Also, she spit up once while I was carrying her in the Ergobaby and rather than it being on me, it was on the bib.

  10. Have a fantastic trip! This post hits very close to home as I just took my 12 week old (also a Baby S!) on his first trip last Thursday. It was solo (hubby couldn’t join us this time), so I was very nervous about many of the things you mentioned. Our travels included a 2 hour plane ride, followed two days later with a 7 hour car ride (though we joined grandpa and grandma for this part). Since it was just me, I pared down the gear to the bare minimum (no stroller, since our ultimate destination was the beach). We got to the airport early to give me time to nurse and get him settled only to find out that our flight was delayed 2 hours. I broke out his blankie in the gate and let him play (attracting a few other kids as well) before we were finally able to board and pretty much nursed the whole flight. We did have to do a diaper change on the plane (I heard the tell-tale sounds of a large “diaper deposit” as the the plane took off) but managed okay on the tiny airplane changing table. I was actually more nervous about the car ride since it was so long but he slept for most of it and we broke it up with stops so he could eat and stretch. Travel with kids is daunting but so worth it. Have a wonderful time with your family!

  11. Love your blog! Thanks for all you do here! My opinion is that your family shouldn’t go. You have described how uncomfortable your baby is. Without the comforts of home, your parents support and all your baby gear this trip could be miserable for all four of you. There will be plenty of opportunities to travel once your baby gets over colic. You gave many reasons not to make this trip.

    I am also concerned for others your baby might disturb. Being on an airplane, next door to you in a resort or even in a restaurant could be really unpleasant. Surely you dont wish that on strangers who paid to have their vacations? Is am only saying this to try to be helpful.

    I hope your baby soon outgrows her discomfort and pain. Our firstborn was like that 30 years ago. It’s a challenge for sure!

  12. we travel all the time with our kids…they go everywhere with us. In 11 years, we have never been away from them, and visited 13 countries in those 11 years.

    Also, have you tried a myopractor? our baby had colic(which is just a condition) really badly, and 2 visits cleared it up. A babys organs are almost the same size as an adult in a really small body, and they get jammed in there.

    I wasn’t a believer until I saw it for myself.

  13. Sending you good vibes for an uneventful flight and a peaceful resort stay! I had a super spitty baby, too, and worried about him spitting up everywhere when we took him on cross-country flights when he was 4 mos old. I nursed him on takeoff and landing to relieve any ear pressure and used a pacifier for the rest of the flight. The thing I think saved us was putting him in a ring sling for most of the flight after I realized I could sit comfortably in the airplane seat with him in the sling, esp since he was a lap child anyway. And the bonus was it left my hands free. He was a super colicky baby with GERD, but whenever he was in a sling or moby wrap he was happy as a clam and would almost immediately fall asleep. Something about the cabin pressure change meant he’d always have a dirty diaper shortly after takeoff, and on a couple flights there was no changing table so we had to make do with putting our changing pad on top of the toilet seat lid (yes gross but not precarious). And then we definitely sanitized that changing pad afterwards! Best wishes for safe and smooth-as-possible travels!

  14. hi. We have a 3 1/2 year old and we have traveled extensively with him since he was a few months old. We live in Europe and have been to Paris, London, Rome, the Alps, Bordeaux, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New York (twice) and Florida (4 times). A few more tips: we always cleaned up the whole area that our son could touch during the flight and removed all magazines and other items from the seat back in front of him; inflatable neck pillows are great as they don’t need to be used as neck pillows but can help position the baby in a more comfortable way (for you and him); we introduced ourselves to the passengers in our area (and the baby) as it always seemed to soften them up. On one flight, our son had trouble with his ears and cried a lot, we offered to buy a beer or a glass of wine for the people sitting close to us (that brought us many new friends and all our luggage was then carried out by others…). We always brought a favorite toy and a new one (or one we kept hidden for a while) to switch for the “entertainment” of our son. The easiest trips was when he was just a few months old, the toughest ones were when he was 1-year old and walking and could not sit still and did not care for TV/Ipad: we walked each 80 times around the cabin of a transatlantic flight. Now it’s a breeze, except for the day after a (short) night flight. In terms of hotels, we have been really lucky by asking upon checking, not for an upgrade but for a room that “in their professional opinion” was the most adapted for a baby/toddler as we ” wanted to make sure that he would sleep and not disturb the other guests”. We often scored a better room (especially as we were willing to totally forego the view) and sometimes even a Jr Suite. Regarding the food restriction, I had GD during my pregnancy, we still traveled and we simply always reached out also to the manager (on top of the FB staff ) to ensure that there would be no issue making special meals, there never was. Good luck and looking forward to reading your posts!

  15. Thanks for all the suggestions and encouragement.

    To answer a couple questions…yes, S sees a chiropractor (assuming that is similar to a myopractor?). She is absolutely slowly but surely getting better thanks to my diet changes, reflux meds, chiro, etc

    In terms of why we have to go on the trip… I have the coolest job in the world, but some aspects of it are just like any other job with contracts, deadlines, etc. combine that with working for yourself so there’s no one to really pick up slack while you take maternity leave and sometimes you just gotta pack up and get stuff done.
    Re: impacting others…there is always that chance, but trust me no one wants the baby to be calm and happy as much as we do. So we will be bouncing, shushing, walking, etc. to keep her as happy as possible.

  16. Thanks for the post. I’m currently 12 weeks pregnant (due April 2) and am planning a trip next June for my sister’s wedding. I’m bookmarking this to read again before we go!

  17. Regarding food allergies, assuming you are heading to Europe check this out:

    I just just made aware of LUPIN since my son is highly allergic to nuts of all kinds and we are heading to Europe next year – we saw reference to this on a local newscast .

    LOL – one room with four kids, one being a newborn? Been there done that (but with one newborn only). Lucky for us, we were ABLE to DRIVE home a day early – the sleeping situation just wasn’t worth the extra night stay!!! Good luck ; )

  18. Loved this post. We have a 3-yr old daughter and I can assure you that your baby wont come close to disturbing passengers on your flight the way our toddler did during a night flight last week. Last week we landed in Madrid after a grueling 11.5 hour flight in Iberia economy (LAX-Madrid). To say that our daughter disturbed passengers on that long flight would be a huge understatement, unfortunately. I’m still traumatized… The flight started uneventfully, she ate dinner and then the problema started. Although she had a normal day at daycare, which means she was tired by the time we boarded our flight around 7pm (L.A. time), she somehow couldnt get to sleep. She tossed & she turned. We did everything humanly possible to get her comfortable, but she wasnt ha ing it. Our daughter is also very willful. It must have been 3 in the morming when she finally broke down and had a full out, screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs meltdown. She was inconsolable and she woke up our entire section of the plane, and maybe even business class passengers. I’m certain if windows could be opened on the plane our entire family would have been thrown out… naturally, after the metldownshe totally crashed and went to sleep. I can assure you we have to come up with a better way to travel here. Since her grandparents live here, and since they’re elderly and cannot make the very long flight from Spain to California, we have to make this long trip every year. But I’m worried about something like this happening again. Hands down it was our worst flight experience ever, and I’m sure it was the same for everyone else. I honestly believe there really was nothing else we could have done. On the other hand, things like these happen. It is what it is.

    • Laura says: “I honestly believe there really was nothing else we could have done. On the other hand, things like these happen. It is what it is.”

      Well those statements certain absolve you of any responsibility for making the lives of all passengers totally miserable at 3 AM. I’m sure all landed with a good case of sleep deprivation while your daughter later rested. Your narrative is so descriptive, I have the feeling you’re somewhat dismissive of this occurrence. I’m always amazed on this site that parents with totally out of control children feel they are a special class of traveler. I’ve read all the excuses, now take responsibility. Realistically, some children are just to young to travel, especially on airplanes.
      Again, as you said, “there really was nothing else we could have done.”. Oh yes there was. You could have left your “very willful” daughter home until she was better able to handle travel, especially on airplanes.
      With all this being said, let the hateful comments and rebuttals begin ——-

      • Rich,
        I’m the persom who posted my story. My daughter is still sleep deprived, as are we. This was not a typical experience. I just wanted to share a particularly bad experience. We naturally are very upset about what happened. Unfortunately her grandparents are elderly, we cant do skype because her grandpa is blind, so this is a very difficult situation for us, since we do have to travel every year, but we are trying to figure out a better way, maybe breaking up the lengthy trip into two shorter trips. I’m acutely aware of the discomfort we caused on the flight to other passengers. And i’m not dismissive at all nor non-chalant about it. I just want to let other parents know that there are challenges to traveling with kids, but it can be done.

  19. I just wanted to add another (positive!) story to balance out the stories here. We travelled to Thailand from Taiwan when our daughter was 2m for a holiday. I believe it was a 6-8 hour flight. Thankfully she was a pretty easy-going baby who slept well, and nursing helped a lot on flights. She preferred quieter locations, so my husband primarily wore her in the baby carrier while working remotely while I took our eldest to use the resort pool. We did have to cut a trip to town short when it was too overstimulating for our daughter, and I stayed in the resort and ate room service more than I would usually care for, but overall we are so glad we went and have great memories.

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