Sunday, February 14, 2016

How to Survive Long Distance travel with a 2 month old (Alone)


If you have been part of the Grenada Soul Adventurer Community for a little while  you would know I have a serious case of Wanderlust. One of the things I was afraid I would have to leave behind once I became a mom was travelling. Thankfully I have a habit of walking directly towards my fear and accepting the challenge of overcoming it. To date it has always lead to enriching experiences and I have not regretted any of it.

The thing about fear is that in doing the things we are afraid to do, the reward usually outweighs the perceived discomfort of danger.  Sure we could let fear stop us from doing things but that sort of tepid existence is not for the I and I. 

In true Grenada Soul Adventurer fashion I decided to jump optimistically into the deep end with the attitude that once the 20 hrs of travel time, with plane and train with baby in toe  from Grenada to Hamburg Germany(did I mention that I was doing all of this by myself as my partner has to work), did not kill us everything would be fine. As it turns out we did not die and honestly the experience was a lot more pleasant than I ever could have imagined. 

Since Baby N is only two months old she will not remember this trip but I will take lots of pictures and tell her all about the time her Mami could not resist the cheap (ish) air fare and the allure of seeing snow again and decided to take a spontaneous trip to Hamburg to visit family. 

Here is my survival guide for long distance alone with a 2 month old:

Hand Luggage

When I was preparing my list for things to pack into my hand luggage I was shocked at how extensive it was. I felt like I had to prepare for every eventually with baby N and also make sure my most valuable possessions (Laptop and heavy DSLR camera and their cables) were with me. 
Here are the things I found to be essential:

For Baby

  • Pampers -  How many will vary depending on the travel time and how many pampers your baby will usually go through in that time span. Pack  a few extra just incase you mess up with rookie mistakes like changing as soon as baby poops and then having her poop into the fresh diaper while you are changing her
  • Baby Wipes
  • Change of Clothes- accidents happen and you want to make sure your little one is comfortable for the entire journey. I packed two extra onsies and pyjamas. 
  • Destination weather appropriate clothes

For Mami

  • Snack and a meal - Plane food is notoriously bad and not eating is not an option especially when you are breast feeding. You need to fuel to keep up your energy and to produce milk for your tiny travel companion. 
  • Breast feeding cover- I  know we are in the controversial age of free the nipple, and I am all for making a political point, however,  although I am a lot less bashful than I was before I am not opposed to wearing a cover especially when cramped in economy class or sitting in a train in close proximity to total strangers.
  • Change of clothes- Just incase I ended up with baby throw up down my back I wanted to make sure I could at least change my shirt 
  • Destination weather appropriate clothes 
  • Book ( or your choice of entertainment)
  • Passports (obviously) 
  • Pen (don't you hate when you forget this)
  • Mobile phone  

What to wear

Baby 

  • Onsie and Pijamas (with the foot part)  These are really easy for diaper changing and keep baby warm and cozy on those air-conditioned flights.* 

Mami

  • Comfortable clothes with easy boob access. I wore an oversized mens shirt, jeans and sneakers.* 
  • Baby wearing wrap. I am a huge advocate of baby wearing generally, and,  when it comes to travelling with a baby I would not step foot on a plane or train without it. I had two hands free to carry my luggage and was able to move around the plane without ease because Baby N was strapped to me the entire time. I think it also helped her to sleep for almost the entire flight because she was cozy and felt safe. 
  • Cream to keep yourself moisturised on those dehydrating flights
  • A little makeup. I am not a huge makeup wearer but a little lipstick, blush and eyebrow taming mascara goes a long way. 

*Once you get to your destination you shed or add layers as appropriate

Get an aisle seat 

You want to be able to move around freely. All parents know that bounce that keeps a total meltdown at bay. Imagine trying to wriggle your way out of a window or middle seat with a crying baby. Also...explosive diapers that need fast reactions....JUST GET THE AISLE SEAT...TRUST ME.

Feed Baby while ascending and descending 

The swallowing motion helps to prevent pressure and keeps baby's ears from popping. Have you ever felt that insane pressure? I had it once as a child and thought my head would explode, now imagine that happening to a two month old. Not fun for anyone involved! 

Drink Water

Flying is extremely dehydrating, couple that with breast feeding and you will find you will need a lot of water. Don't be afraid to ask flight attendants for several bottles, they are usually very understanding and helpful when they see moms travelling with babies. 

Eat

Whether it is plane food or you bring your own meal make sure you are taking in nutrients, you will need the energy for yourself and for your body to produce milk for your baby

Ditch the Baby Bag and put baby essentials into your carryon

You don't want to have too many different bags to manage. Consolidating your things and baby's things into a carryon bag with wheels will take care of that bag falling off your shoulder problem. 

Use the trolly

It is difficult pulling two or more suitcases through an airport,  if you have multiple bags (even when baby wearing) use a trolly to make life easier for yourself.

Keep your travel documents organised

I have been guilty of fumbling around trying to find my travel documents one time too many. With a baby you want to be as efficient as possible. Keep your passports and other travel documents together and easily accessible for whenever they are required. 

Be organised generally

You cannot prepare for every eventuality but try as much as possible to prevent any stress that comes from disorganisation. On my way to Hamburg from Frankfurt I took a train and had not reserved a seat (I did not know that you could even reserve a seat). That meant that after I had settled down with my bags and baggages, took off my coat, scarf and hat and settled down with Baby N I had to reverse that entire spiel and move to another seat once its rightful occupant came along. That sucked! 

Stay positive

It can be daunting travelling alone with a little baby but getting yourself into a negative state of mind won't do you any good. Don't listen to travel horror stories, instead envision a smooth and enjoyable journey with your little one. If things get challenging you will already be in a good frame of mind to problem solve. On my journey to Hamburg I had some challenges with my train ticket in Frankfurt, I had to do a bit more walking and ask a few questions but I remained calm throughout and was able to solve my issues. Unexpected things crop up, so expect them! 

Ask Questions

If you are travelling an unfamiliar route, don't be afraid to stop someone and ask a question. It will take less time than trying to figure it all out by yourself. You don't want your journey to be more complicated or lengthy than it has to be. 

Accept Help 

Remember how I was saying that I had learned to ask for and accept help and that it did not make me less of a person. Well, that really counts when travelling alone with a baby. Luckily the world is full of more helpful and understanding people than we are lead to believe. Almost every time I was moving around with my things someone offered to help me with my luggage. It is important to keep some sort of control over the situation (after all you are trusting a stranger with your stuff) but generally your instincts will guided you. 

Safety First! Stay in communication with Family and Friends 

This one is very important. Since you and baby are on your own you need to let friends and family know your itinerary so that they can know when to expect to hear from you. This is for your own safety and their peace of mind. Airports usually have free wifi for at least 20 minutes to half an hour. Check in and let your family and friends know you have arrived safely and when you expect to reach your accommodation. If you are travelling to a place where you don't know anyone write a quick message home everyday and let your family know what your plan is for the next day and then check back in when you get back from your day of activities. This way, if in the unlikely event that something does happen to you and baby your family will have a rough idea where to start their search. 


I hope this post has helped anyone who wants to travel with a young baby but is worried that it will be too complicated. The truth is, a 2 month old baby is very compact and easy to travel with in terms of physically carrying him or her. Another plus is that they pay almost nothing in air fare. Travel is very important to me, it is one of those things that keeps me balanced and happy. It is a challenge incorporating a baby into that lifestyle but it is absolutely doable and they will be happy once they are close to you. 

Have any of you traveled with a baby or want to travel with a baby? 
What have been your experiences?
Do you have any tips for me?

I look forward to hearing from you! 

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Peace and Bliss, 

Grenada Soul Adventurer 









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