Life after having a baby doesn’t have to stop! You can still get that degree you want. You can still travel. You can still have a spicy relationship with your husband. I truly believe that. When it was just me and Ari, we were constantly back and forth to Florida and Chicago to see my family. With Gianluca we have been to Naples, NYC, Jersey, D.C. North Carolina, Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Italy and Spain. Some of these trips were taken by car, some by plane, some by train and our trip to N.C. was a solo trip with just me, baby and my 8 year old. Now if you don’t have a husband/mom/friend or an 8 year old daughter to help you out when you have to run to the tiny bathroom that barely fits your rear end then yes things are going to be a bit of a struggle. That is my first tip for traveling with a baby- try not to do it alone!!! I’ve done it by myself with Ari and it was a work out! If you’re traveling by car there will be no one to go into the back seat to calm baby down when they’re upset. If your traveling by plane getting through security with your stroller will be a pain in the ass and you will have to rely on the kindness of strangers to help you out (which there will be- particularly if you are near a fellow mama who has been there done that). Then you might have a few minor hiccups that are just completely unexpected… for example, let’s say you have pumped a few bottles of breast milk. You think you are totally prepared for anything until you realize that there is something called a change in cabin pressure and now said breast milk is leaking from all of your medela bottles from the over head compartment and dripping onto your fellow passenger’s heads… and now you have to explain to them what is coming out of your little black bag above them and apologize profusely. Breast milk is good for the skin and scalp though right? Ugh…
Anyway my next travel tip for mamas is to zip up your Louis Vuitton suitcase and just fly on your private plane with your full time nanny. If your like most of us then obviously I’m kidding. The next travel tip is to never ever run out of food or milk. Hell hath no fury like a hungry baby. It’s also important to have little fun toys and activities for your kids and depending on their age those toys and activities obviously change. Arianna is completely satisfied with the movies on the airplane. Gianluca however needed a steady rotation of toys, books, chew toys, snacks, drinks and every couple of hours a new parent to play with because we were exhausted. It is tough being in a confined space for 9-10 hours with a little one. Mentally prepare yourself. If you are going across “the pond” it ain’t going to be easy. Honestly even going to NC (which is an hour flight) with Gianluca awake felt like one of the longest flights of my life! If your child is sleeping you have hit the jack pot mama. Do everything you can to keep that baby asleep even if that means letting baby take up your entire seat while they lay tummy down spread out like a star fish on your first class seat while you take the edge of the foot rest for 6 hours (sitting first class with a baby means that baby sits first class- you sit pretty much on the floor and will maybe get to take a sip of the complimentary OJ or champagne while baby eats and throws and smooshes all of the complimentary snacks and food). So another thing is and this goes for everything in parenting, it depends on the kid. You have to know your kid. Ari as a baby usually slept on the airplane. She was perfect until we began our descent. She had really sensitive ears up until about 6 or 7 years of age and she would cry hysterically when her ears were clogged or popping. If that’s your kid, remember to feed them or have them drink from their bottle when descending. Gianluca could care less about the pressure change he just does not stop moving when he is awake and he’s usually awake for some part of the plane ride. This means I get an incredible arm work out, slapped or kicked in the face a few times (who doesn’t need a good quality dose of humility from time to time though) and usually end up with his or my food smeared all over my shirt or pants. Got to love motherhood.
So anyway now that you have survived the journey, you’re at your destination. Did you remember to bring baby’s car seat? Most rental car companies will let you rent a car seat from them if you didn’t feel like checking a car seat… but it comes with a price parents! In Italy it was $50/day, so my husband bought a cheap car seat for us to take with us and cursed every time it bounced off of a suitcase (well you can’t have it all).
Hotel or Air BnB? I love air BnB’s if you’re traveling with kids, because your child has the space to crawl around, you have access to a washer and dryer for those poop blow outs, a kitchen sink to clean out bottles etc.. and if you pick a kid friendly place they may even have a high chair and crib! Hotels on the other hand, may not be as kid friendly and you probably don’t want your baby crawling on the hotel floors. Also if you and your spouse need to have a private “conversation” its always nice to have different rooms to hide in. The upside to a hotel though for me is the complimentary breakfast and in Europe they usually have an awesome buffet style breakfast with fresh fruits, juices, salads, boiled eggs, assorted pastries, pancakes, nutella, coffees, cappuccinos, bacon etc. because they are trying to please their Aussies, Americans, Germans, Swedes, Brits, long story short… travelers from all over the place.
Are you in a foreign country? Be mentally prepared again- other countries (please don’t be offended if you live in a foreign country) are not as kid friendly as the United States. I’m not saying they don’t love and appreciate children. I’m referring specifically to most public restrooms and quality side walks (I’m pointing my finger at you Italy!) Those romantic narrow cobble stone Italian streets that you once loved aren’t quite as romantic when you are pushing a pram up and down them while a vespa almost runs you over.
Packing: As any veteran mama knows, always have food that baby likes. Yes, baby can always try new foods wherever you are. It was adorable watching Gianluca take down slices of pizza in Italy but we also found out that Gianluca loves kiwis and pineapples but they do not love that boy back! Every time he would eat them he would break out in a rash. I also found it hard to find organic baby food and formula so I would bring a little stash with you full of your favorite brands. Same goes for wipes, the “sensitive formula wipes” in Europe still contained chemicals that irritated Gianluca’s little booty. We stayed for 3 weeks so by a week and a half all of my organic/clean products were gone and I had to hunt for the best I could find in their pharmacies and grocery stores. Bring extra changes of clothes… you know why. Also, bring little travel sizes of your favorite cleaning products. You are probably going to need to hand wash some laundry and you will definitely need to wash bottles, pacifiers, toys that baby threw out of the pram etc… And I never travel without my baby bottle cleaner! What else can I suggest… most of the other things that you need to pack I feel are pretty obvious… Hmm… maybe also remember a nail file for baby’s claws?
Pregnant with a baby bump? Make sure YOU have snacks! There’s nothing worse than having that hungry nauseous pregnancy feeling. If you’ve never been pregnant you don’t know what I’m talking about. Those Preggie Pops are also pretty awesome for nausea if you can’t get your hands on a quality snack that isn’t prosciutto or some other “no no list” food item. Preggie Pops saved me while driving through the death trap narrow spinning streets of The Amalfi Coast and during plane take offs.
Okay mama (or papa) now that I have given you the reality of traveling with your baby I’d like to end this post with how amazing it will be if you can conquer all of that (and yes you can)! You will make priceless memories, take beautiful photos, see baby do new things in beautiful places for the first time and be able to say, “remember in Rome when Gianluca started to say “mama” or when he ate that entire gelato in Tropea, and when he went swimming in the Amalfi Coast and Ari jumped off of that cliff with you for the first time and remember that perfume store in Spain and our hilarious tour guide and nonna Teresa in Praiano? Can we go back and visit her?” Now those memories are what make a life and bring you closer as a family. And let’s be honest even the rough memories eventually just become funny memories! I laugh every time I think of my breast milk story ( I wasn’t laughing then though- I was horrified)! The journey is bumpy but I would do it again and again. Buena suerte and Buon Viaggio!