For a good year, fear stood in my way of adventure. I held off on journeying to the places we wanted to go. See, the furthest we had traveled was to Maui, during our babymoon of my first pregnancy. As you know, after the loss, I was devastated. It was the last happy place that I remember being, with memories that were unforgettable, and unfortunately the only ones I have. The decision to return made me fearful. I rejected the idea on our babymoon with London, yet we always dreamt of bringing our baby to that very place that meant so much to us.
Fast forward to our two month pediatric visit with London. It felt life changing! When we met with our doctor, she joked that the two month checkup was referred to by parents as “the freedom visit”. I knew exactly what she meant. Mamaville can be isolating and lonesome at times, and it had been so long since we had traveled anywhere. We wanted to make the most of the duration of my maternity leave, by closing it out with a truly special adventure with London. After debating the idea, and a few anxious weeks, we were on a flight with our three month baby boy. Eeek! I had a hard time talking about it with anyone. They thought we were crazy. I couldn’t sleep the night before the flight. We called up the airlines with a few questions the night before, and the woman on the other end of the line laughed, as we told her about our upcoming journey from New York City to Maui. “Good Luck,” she said. There’s nothing like breaking a kid into flying, with a twelve hour plane ride. Go big or go home, right??.
In all seriousness, the adventure can seem daunting in the beginning, however we found it to be incredibly easier that we imagined. It was truly incredible to be with London in Maui and he absolutely loved it. We could tell! He was our zen baby on that trip! Somehow, he seemed very calm, cool, and collected there, while in NYC he definitely spends some days riding the “fuss bus”. How did we know? His very first giggle, happened the moment we stepped off the plane, while arriving at the Maui airport. It that isn’t a clue, I don’t know what is. He slept better, ate better, played more, laughed, and enjoyed his time as an island baby. My parents were with us on his very first journey, which made for an unforgettable trip, with memories to last a lifetime.
As for me, I conquered my fear of traveling the distance, especially with London. I didn’t know what to expect when I landed in Maui. Would fear and anxiety rule the trip? Would sadness take me over, as it was the last place that I spent during that pregnancy. Would I even be able to enjoy it? All of these thoughts ran through my head the night before our flight. The answer: I found peace and closure on the journey. I learned more about myself, and my role as a mother. I felt closer to London and to Grant than ever before. We were finally a family. My advice…face your fear. Adventure awaits.
If you are considering an adventure of your own, with your little one, especially with the holidays fast approaching, I’ve listed out some advice, checklists, wins, and challenges to help you with your journey. I hope these are helpful! Bon Voyage!
Making the Decision to Travel
As I mentioned above, the decision to travel to such a far destination with London, was a big one for us. We tossed around the idea for awhile, and after consulting with our doctor, as well as asking opinions of other mamas, who had the same experience, we booked the trip, not quite knowing what to expect. What most said was that the younger the children are, the easier it is to fly with them. I couldn’t agree more. I will say that speaking with others did make be a bit nervous, hearing some of the stresses that each family dealt with. Each baby is different. I believe that as long as you know your baby, you know what you’ll be in for. I didn’t read too much into the journey, however we did check in with Kendall from Styled Snapshots, as she went on a recent adventure with her little one as well. She helped to answer some of our questions. I am linking her post here, for further reading material! Just remember, that each family’s experience is different.
I’ll start off by telling you that I’m not a light packer. I like to bring everything on the planet, for a “just in case” scenario. I’m sure there would have been a smarter, more consolidated way to pack, however I will say that I used most everything that I brought for London. Here’s what was in my suitcase for him. We traveled for 11 days, so I packed accordingly.
- Short sleeve & long sleeve onesies, to last the entire trip. I brought extra, as I knew they would be easily stained.
- 1 hoodie and sweater, as the air conditioning and flight could be chilly
- Burp clothes (a million)
- Blankets & swaddles
- Baby laundry detergent (SO glad I packed this. I used it often)
- Baby shampoo & plastic cup to help me clean him during his bath
- Sunglasses (which were great for photo ops, but didn’t stay on his face)
- Swim trunks, and rash guards
- Sunhat (this helped so much, keeping the sun out of his face)
- Baby sunscreen (used Neutrogena SPF 50. I didn’t love the texture of this. I found it difficult to rub in, and put up a fuss daily while I applied it. I will search for a different one next time. Blue Lizard is another one that came recommended to me).
- Stuffies (I brought a big one for the hotel, and a little one for the plane)
- Diapers (We ran out and bought more while we were there)
- Nail file
- Breast Pump (I am currently breastfeeding, pumping, and supplementing with formula. I didn’t end up using the pump on the plane)
- Burp Clothes
- Diaper travel changing pad
- Diapers (I didn’t go through as many as I thought on the plane)
- Plastic Bags (for dirty diapers)
- Outfit changes (I definitely needed these!)
- Hoodie (in case the plane was cold & it was snowing on our layover in Denver
- Booties & socks (to keep his feet warm on the plane)
- Blanket & swaddle
- Lysol wipes & Purell (because…germs!)
- Aveeno Baby Wipes
- Bottled Water (to make his formula bottles, although I also breastfed on the plane)
Flight Game Plan
Traveling to Maui, we chose a 7am flight with a layover. We left for the airport at 3am. The idea was that London would be sleepy on the way to the airport, and would travel better on the plane. We were right! In addition, the airport was dead. Traveling at that hour was cake.
We chose a layover, since it was our first time traveling, so that we’d include a break for him. On our way back, we took a red eye with a layover. He was much fussier at the airport, as he had been awake all day, and was tired. If I were to book the trip again, we’d make sure to have a hotel room the entire last day of the trip. Checking out early made it difficult, as we waiting around all day without a room, although the hotel did have a lounge for us with lockers and showers which was great. However, I definitely preferred the early morning flight.
Surprisingly, London slept basically the entire twelve hours to Hawaii. Of course he’d wake up for bits of time here and there, but he was mainly a snoozer. I held him in my lap the entire flight. I fed him on the way up, and as we landed to keep his ears from popping and to keep him content. I was nervous about publicly breastfeeding on the plane, but it was my saving GRACE so, I did it. I know that breastfeeding calms him so much, and I knew it would put him right to sleep. The dark plane helped, as well as the sound of the engine, which acted as white noise. To easily breastfeed him, I wore just a simple tank top with a shelf bra for easy access, and a little jacket layered over, which helped to provide coverage. Aside from that, I quickly got over my fear of public feeding, since it was a game changer on this trip. Another strategy we used when booking the flight on the larger plane, was to choose the section with four seats in the center. The airlines told us that by Grant & I both booking both aisle seats on either side, most likely no one would choose the center seats. They were right. We ended up having the entire row of the plane which made for A LOT of room, in addition to the benefit of bringing the car seat on the plane. This way, if I needed to, I could put him down. The flights back were more challenging for us. London was a bit cranky, and I was tired, as it was a red eye. I couldn’t sleep because I had to hold him the entire time. If there was turbulence, I wanted to make sure I had a tight grip on my munchkin. Regardless, he still slept, and the flights were much smoother then we anticipated. At the end of the day, I realized that the buildup to the flight made me much more anxious than the flight itself. It was cake, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
For diaper changes, I either changed him in the airport bathrooms with the changing pad, or on the plane.
The time change for London, once we arrived in Maui, was simple. His little body was already adjusted to the five hour change, since he slept so much on the plane. Returning to NYC, was much more of a challenge. It took two to three days for his sleep schedule to return to normal, and he was cranky. I don’t blame him. We were too!
Necessary Baby Gear
- Chicco KeyFit Car Seat & Stroller – this is our travel stroller and car seat. It is smaller, lighter and folds easier than our Uppa Baby stroller. We used this throughout the airport and checked it at the gate. We used it for all car rides in Maui, as well as for strolling him around. In addition, he easily fell asleep in it during dinner or would take quick naps in the room with ease.
- Ergo Baby 360 – as you know, this is my favorite piece of baby gear we own. I use it ALWAYS in the city, however on vacation, I barely used it. I did take it on walks, however for short distances I carried him. The actual carrier felt bulky, and I was afraid he would overheat. I do think if you are traveling to another city, it’s a great idea
- Travel Changing Pad – we used this little baby, absolutely everywhere! From the airport, to the airplane, restaurants, pool, and the hotel…it was so necessary! We kept it stocked with extra diapers and wipes
- Diaper Bag/Tote Bag – I used a little tote bag, which I took to the pool and beach for all of London’s gear as well as my own. I ended up disliking the actual Pumping/Diaper bag that I brought, which is one of my regrets. it was to large, bulky, and tough to keep organized.
Our feeding schedule was pretty loose on this trip. We fed London every two to three hours, however we did not have exact/set times as we do at home. Somehow, it all just worked well. It was tough to stay on schedule while we were traveling. As mentioned above, we fed him formula the majority of the time, and I pumped in the evenings in order to feed him breast milk as well. One of my regrets, was that I didn’t pump enough, and my milk supply is significantly reduced right now. I’m currently pumping away, to increase it.
The hotel provided us with a crib, which I wasn’t in love with. It was much deeper than our crib at home, which made it challenging to put him down. After a day or two, he got used to it, and fell asleep easily, listening to the waves of the ocean with the door to the balcony open. He loved it! Our bedtime at home is structured, putting him down at the same time every evening. However, on vacation, I carried him out to watch the sunset every night. He fell asleep in my arms under the stars (seriously). We’d bring him inside to change him into pjs, put him in the car seat to head out to dinner, and he mostly stayed asleep! Once we got home, we transferred him to the crib. It wasn’t structured, but somehow it really worked for him. Regarding nap times, these weren’t planned out either, however they were around the same time everyday
Heading on the trip was 100% the greatest win of all. As mentioned above, the flights were incredibly easy. Aside from that, London seemed to be the best island baby! It helped that we chose a place that we had been to several times. We knew what activities and places would be baby friendly. Our dinners our were easy and enjoyable with the bedtime strategy we used. In addition, my parents were on the trip with us, therefore it helped to have their hand in holding him and caring for him as well. We even got a few pool dates, as well as our first date night out as parents! They were with us for the first part of the trip, and the last few days, we were on our own which was great as well. We became great at “rolling with it”, and improvising, and London did too!
We definitely faced a few challenges that we had to work around. Planning for the trip was tough for me. I was overwhelmed with the amount I needed to pack for London. Keeping it organized was challenging too. The diaper/pumping bag I chose made it difficult to keep things together on the plane. Going forward I’d love to find a new one. Once we arrived at the hotel, I found it tough for me to unpack since I was still constantly in the cycle of feeding, changing, napping, bath time, scrubbing dirty onesies, pumping, etc. It was the same as at home. Therefore, getting out of the hotel room was still difficult, and I could never find anything. In regards to the weather, we couldn’t keep the baby in the heat for very long. Most days we stayed in the shade, and spent time outside in the early mornings, late afternoon, and evenings. It did take a few days of adjusting, but I finally had the time to unpack, and we had a routine to our days. We anything, it was an adjustment and anything with a brand new baby is definitely an adjustment.The only thing I would have changed was the crib setup. I do wish we had an easier crib, which we were able to quickly adapt to, but it worked out.
We truly gained confidence in our parenting skills during the trip, and we were able to bond with our son on another level. Being in an alternate, less stressful environment, brought out the best in us, and I think London could feel that. The time together as a family felt irreplaceable, and we made memories to cherish with our own parents for a lifetime. Grant and I never buy each other material gifts…our wedding rings may be just about it. Really. We choose to travel together, for we feel that life experience, for us, is the greatest gift of all. I’m grateful for the risk we took, the challenges we faced, and for the adventures that I’ll keep within my heart. Regardless of where you go, two steps out the front door, or crossing an ocean, that my friends…is living.
*If you have any further questions, I’d be happy to help! Feel free to DM, or email me.