Tuesday, March 24, 2009
This month I turn the big 3-0. And we are getting ready to head off to one of my favorite places-Italy! This is a trip that I had planned way before I got pregnant. Even after I found out I was pregnant, my husband and I were determined to pack up the baby and fly the friendly skies. James and I love to travel and always talked about how we would never stop traveling, even after we had children. We weren't scared. We had a mission and we were hell-bent on accepting it!
During my pregnancy, I calculated that our baby would be about 7 months in March (my b-day month) and that it would also be the beginning of spring in Italy-PERFECT! I sat back and fantasized about how cool it would be to bring our 7 month old to Italy. My fantasies were vivid. I imagined myself hanging out in a Piazza, sipping cappuccino while my cherubic baby slept peacefully in his/her sling. Ahhh...Bliss! OR should I say...HA! the fantasies of a clueless, first-time mother! I was a little naive to say the least, but it made me feel good to remind myself that having a baby didn’t necessarily mean I had to retire my Samsonite. Let’s face it, I had NO CLUE about what traveling with a baby meant and had no idea if it would be a pleasurable experience. None of this mattered because I was determined to give it a try. Plus, being naive allowed me to ignore the naysayers who tried to scare us into retiring our passports. People said things like “You’re crazy to take a baby on an airplane.” or “What about the germs?” My husband and I would just laugh at these comments, but naturally, deep down, we worried about the unknown. Pushing fear aside, we shoved on, booked our tickets to Rome and got Griffin his first passport!
Fast-forward to today, our son is 7 months old and we are 2 days away from our first-ever family vacation to Rome! YAY! I now have 7 months of parenthood behind me and that's enough to know just leaving the house to go buy toilet paper is a freaking challenge. So ask me now, am I scared? Hell yes! Since we haven’t traveled yet, I can’t tell you if it was a success (future blog post with detailed Trip Report TK) but I can supply you with all of the tips and tricks that got us to this point so far. I have learned some things along the way and I hope that the info below will help you plan your family trip.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
Actually, I hate that word especially when it comes to kids. The one thing I have learned (and rather quickly) in the 7 months that I’ve been a mommy is that you can never be 100 percent prepared for anything. Tricky little devils! However, you need to prepare as best you can and anticipate everything and anything (I mean after all, mommy’s and daddy's are magicians right?) Plus, it makes control-freaks like me feel ready for anything, even if it's a false sense of security.
Abandon all previous travel tactics and notions.
As I said, I'm a bit of a control freak so this is a hard pill for me to swallow. There is something to be said about order and routine but when you are not in your element, you gotta give in to what works! I am fully prepared for chaos and to have many sleepless nights upon my return from Italy. It kills me to know that all of the "sleep training" will probably be out the window during this trip and for a week or two after. C'est la vie! I've been sleep deprived for 7 months so what's a few weeks more?
Accept the following:
-You didn't have to give up your passport but you do have to give up your old style of traveling.
-You will never be on time for anything (this true in day-to-day life too.)
-You will never "travel light" again.
What you used to have as carry-on luggage for your entire 7 day trip, will now be your diaper bag. The only thing you will be "carrying on" is a baby and a boat-load of baby crap!
-Slow down the pace.
No more waking up at 7am to be the first in line to see the Sistine Chapel (well, maybe that was just me).
-You may very well be that “annoying person” who has a screaming baby during a night flight. (Accept it and SO WHAT?)
Embrace the positives that come along with traveling with a child.
- You board the plane first-YAY!
- Kids are great icebreakers, especially in cities like Rome.
- Kids will force you to slow down the pace and give you an opportunity to stop and smell the cappuccino.
Ask friends for tips.
Your mommy and daddy friends with previous experience can be a wealth of knowledge. Remember to take their advice with a grain of salt. Every child is different and your friends baby might very well have slept the entire 21 hours flight to Australia ( I doubt it )but yours might scream his/her head off the entire flight. Don't feel bad, you can do this!
Rent an apartment or condo or time-share when possible.
I love the comforts of a hotel but having a living space that is similar to what you are used to at home is often a better option when traveling with children. We rented an apartment for Rome and I am glad I did. Having a kitchen is a big plus when you need to prepare bottles/food for your little one. Another plus is that apartments are often much cheaper than hotels.
Click here for a link to the apartment we rented in Rome. We have Michelle from Chowmama to thank for this recommendation. Thanks Michelle!
Helpful sites for family vacation planning:
Reviews on Apartment Rentals in Europe:
Tips on Traveling with kids - AMAZING RESOURCES:
Family Approved Vacation Properties:
Diapers, Formula and More, delivered to your travel destination (at a premium of course!)
UK Vacation Rental Resources:
Awesome Travel bag for the airplane:
TSA Guidelines for traveling with breast-milk/formula: