Vacation and babies. In our home, this is a must. We can't just hide at home all summer and stick to our routine to keep the 3 year old and 12 month old on schedule. All of our family lives up country. From Sorrento to Kelowna, we must take a vacation and travel to visit immediate family. Therefore, we had to adjust to life on the road with babies. Not just on the road life, but life with 3 or 4 different households. We had to drag the children around to visit other family in the area. We didn't look at this feat at dreadful, instead we used it as an opportunity to teach, learn, share and grow together as a family. Not to mention the wonderful memories we have.
Here are some suggestions of what we did that made our travels more enjoyable.
The pack: Over packing never hurt anyone if you have the space. As prideful as your husband may be about down sizing your 8 pair of different shoes for the holiday trip, bring the 3 pacifiers, baby monitors, playpen, high chair, the night light, bibs, blankies and stuffies just in case. It never hurts to be over prepared. it also helps the children feel more comfortable and 'at home.' Bringing babies favourite stuffie to help make him feel more secure is pretty vital. It's hard for some of us to sleep without a pillow, it feels the same for them. A baby monitor was vital for my moms place as their sleep room was in the basement and we often visited outside by the fire. That way I didn't have to run in every 7 min and check on them, risking waking them.
Naps: Make sure you select the same room for sleeping each time you visit that 'grandparent', in our case. Also, if you can black out the blinds, it helps them sleep during nap time without staring at all the stimulating environment. If your child needs a night light, bring that also... it could help you navigate the new dark room while searching for pacifiers as your 3 year old naps.
My husband laughed at all the stuff I brought, but more often than not we used absolutely everything. At my moms, we were blessed to have her do laundry at her place, but during camping, we made sure we had too many onsies, blankets, sleeprs, socks etc. Babies get dirty, have poo blow outs, spit up etc. Keeping a 2 year old clean during potty training is also quite the challenge. Bring too many clothes will help keep kids happier and drier.
The drive: We had to drive up north so often their little ears would hurt from the pressure of the elevation. Our babies rarely used pacifiers, but we always brought them on road trips and let them suck on them during the drive. I would give licorice to my 2 year old to chew on during the equalization. This way, they would swallow more often and help equalize their ears to reduce pain. This may work well in airplanes for your family. If you are traveling on a plane, nursing them just before boarding is a must and may save your trip. Often babies will sleep heavy after a good nursing. Making the plane ride peaceful for all. Make sure you have lots of 'new books' and toys you bought from the dollar store your 2 year old has never seen. Great entertainment for road trips and airplane rides. If your techie - a movie on a tablet. They still sell those Magic Pen Books... http://www.familytravelkits.com/magic-painting-pen-book/ for older children, that was my favourite as a kid. You know what entertains your little ones. Mirrors on back of seats are also great in car trips.
“When you are on a road trip and need a bathroom break, keep a lookout for a budget chain hotel. They are easy to find, often conveniently located just off highway exits. They tend to have rest rooms in the lobby area and, in my experience, these bathrooms are usually much cleaner than those in gas stations and fast food restaurants.” — Amy from Kingston, N.Y.
“I have discovered that a roll of low-tack painter’s tape has a zillion uses on car trips. I can use it to tack up a spare tee-shirt to the car window to block the sun from bothering my 17-month-old daughter when she’s trying to sleep. I use it to pin fun pictures of her favorite TV characters to the seat in front of her. In the hotel room, I use it to cover electrical sockets and pin up curtain cords out of my daughter’s reach. Best of all, it comes off at the end of the trip without damaging upholstery, painted surfaces, or wallpaper.” —Patti from St. Paul, Minn.
“Whenever we go on a trip (even a day trip), I pack a mini first-aid kit in my backpack or handbag. I use a small flat Tupperware-like container, but even a sandwich-size Ziploc bag would work. My first-aid kit typically contains about 10 Band-Aids of assorted shapes and sizes, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, small tube of bug bite sting reliever, several antiseptic wipes, small tube of antibiotic ointment, several individual packets of Advil and Children’s Tylenol, and a few stickers or temporary tattoos that I give my patients after their treatments.” — Beth from San Bernardino, Calif.
If I didn't say it before BABY WIPES on any trip are a must. From small messes to poo blow outs, you can never have enough. Also, I loved my diaper duck... http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=10803028 They lock in smells in tight quarters.
Vacation or running around? Be prepared to be busy, even in the car or on the plane. With my 12 month old, he was mobile and curious and sitting for long periods can be boring and often frustrating for everyone. Schedule short stops in the car for breaks. A nice grassy area to run about will feel good for all. Choose to go inside a restaurant instead of going drive through. We were also potty training our 2 year old and would bring the potty along. We kinda knew his schedule and would plan short stops to bring the potty out. We only have one pee through on the car seats and it was our fault for missing a stop.
Math in the car.... http://childparenting.about.com/od/schoollearning/a/summerlearning_math_roadtrip.htm License plate math was my favourite as a kid.
Reading in the car... favourite books or books on tape. My 2 year old had his favourite songs and even before he could talk, he would sign Duck or Turtle to request his favourite song on the CD.
Signing... Travelling is a great opportunity to teach signs. My 2 year old loved to learn new signs and adventure with us. Watch for opportunities. As I said before my children signed what they wanted. If they were hungry, had to pee, wanted a song or story. My 12 month old asks for nana's all the time. I have tried offering Cherrios and he shook his head and re-signed NANA! So funny, being that paticular at such a young age. Having a few signs in your pocket with little ones will reduce your stress and allow you just to ask, "Are you ALL DONE? or do you want MORE? Sometimes my 2 year old would call up to me and tell me what his little brother signed... and say, "He wants a DRINK mommy." Sure enough I'd look back and he's quietly signing DRINK. So cute!
One last thought... bring BUBBLES!!! Use only in emergencies. The first sign of a full on meltdown start blowing.
Other great articles on vacationing with babies.
Great article on how to get your baby to sleep well on vacation:
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