Sassy Mama’s contributor, Julie, took her sweet little bub back to her old stomping grounds in New York for a quick week. Here are her tips and tricks for traveling with her little one…!
A couple of weeks back a work took my husband to New York City for a week, and well… nostalgia got the best of me and I decided to book flights for both my 6.5 month old and me to tag along. It was not until a few days before we were set to depart, and I was faced with the task of packing for an unpredictable weather forecast, that I was reminded of the reality of travelling with a little one. Long gone are the days of light packing and carefree schedules! I have quickly come to realise the key to conquering jet-lag, airport chaos and the hassle of long-haul travel is all about a positive mind-set; after all, it is just part of the adventure of expat life.
So while we were back in NYC, I caught up with Brooklyn based photographer, Ana Schechter, and she strolled around Tribeca with Baby E and me capturing my treasure chest of mama “tips and tricks” on conquering the obstacles of long-haul travel with little ones. To start, lets chat about must-have items, overcoming jet-lag and overall adjustment to a new environment.
Oh, the packing, I learned this one the hard way; trade in the chic carry-on tote and trendy handbag for a backpack. Packing all my carry-on necessities in a backpack freed up my hands to tend to ticketing agents, squealing bubs and the ‘trek’ through security and immigration. I personally love the Calais Backpack by Tumi. It is functional, boasts lots and lots of pockets and best of all the front zip perfectly houses passports, tickets and a full size wallet. For an added bonus, there is even a padded back zip for mama’s laptop or iPad – genius! Now what goes inside?
I pack items in ziplocks as a space-saving and organisational trick, making it easy to pull out the items needed single-handed and in a dash. Make sure to pack a change of clothes (for both mama and baby), key-feeding items (bottles, pump, extra storage bottles, solids, spoon, plastic bib, etc), travel size toiletries, diapers and wipes (always pack more than needed given the travel time!), muslin swaddles and dribble clothes, a few toys and any other imperative things for your little’s. Don’t forget mama gets a little space too.
Personally, my must-have mama items include: travel size toiletries like a toothbrush and toothpaste, rose water face spray for a mid-flight pick-me-up, chap stick and lipgloss for a dash of glam, lemon essential oil to jazz up in-flight hydration, travel size cologne for a post-flight spritz, a digital photo album to be reminded of family memories and most important of all… E’s baby journal to document our family adventures!
Who fears airport germs? Since airports and airplanes scream, “breeding ground for contagious germs”, I always have hand sanitiser gel on hand. I am a bit of a germaphobe, so forgetting to pack this rivals forgetting extra diapers (just kidding!) but it comes in a close second.
Once we overcome the trials and anxieties of the long-haul travel, it is on to figuring out a new time zone. Oh the joys of jet lag! Though I always find the first few nights quite difficult, I actually believe jet lag misery is pretty quick to combat, just be intentional about keeping up a routine and schedule similar to home. And for our family, I find it is acceptable to relax when it comes to rules and rigidity a bit. Even though six o’clock in the morning comes far too quickly, wake up as usually, sweep open the blinds and treat the morning as usual – lots of sunlight, noise and active play.
Take to the streets and get some fresh air, enjoy lots of sunlight during the daytime hours and definitely impose a daytime and nighttime schedule just like at home. Make sure to stay active. When the afternoon slump hits, it might be hard to keep your eyes open. It is okay to indulge in a long, early afternoon nap, but avoid complete silence and darkness. This helps the little one to start to differentiate between day and night, settling into a routine like home. If the bath routine is pre-bedtime, followed by a story and lots of cuddles then keep it just like that. Consistency is key!
Though I must admit that a lot of the family rules went out the window the first few nights after we arrived in NYC, resorting to co-sleeping and nursing on demand for the first few nights, we quickly adapted and settled back into a healthy routine. After roughly 3 full days, we were almost back to normal schedules and a wholesome nights rest. I encourage my fellow mamas to go ahead and book that long-haul trip you’ve been dreaming of, and keep a positive mind-set. The little one’s sleep schedule and daily routine inevitably resets itself in due time!