Spring has sprung! There is nothing like opening the door to have a whiff of Spring blast you in the face. The world feels lighter. We block off weekends for spring cleaning. We crave salads over comforting mashed potatoes.
With the flowers blooming, animals scampering, and birds building nests, it awakens something within us that whispers “it’s time to get out of the house.” What better time to travel with baby on that road trip to Grandma’s house? How about cashing in on one of those Groupon Getaway deals to take the family to Niagra Falls or to tour the castles of Ireland? Can you feel the wind whipping through your hair? Yes!
Needle off the record. Whether you are flying or driving, we have all stood in front of the massive pile of “stuff” that we are supposed to fit into a space that is physically impossible to fit into, let alone carry through a busy airport. Stress levels rise. There may be some bickering. Traveling with a child(ren) isn’t nearly as spontaneous and carefree as it was when we were all single or married without children. It can be totally overwhelming.
Traveling light is empowering! When I had my daughter, I never thought I would travel again…at least not in the way that I used to (wind through my hair as I sashay on the plane with a small carry-on bag after scoring a cheap flight the night before). But we do!
Join me in this several part series exploring travel and adventure with your infant or toddler. With a bit of adjustment, we can reduce emotional and physical baggage to have you all traveling like Other Baby Book Goddesses and Gods in no time.
Emotional Baggage: Stress level down, joy level up.
We begin with you. Yes, you, travel God(dess). Hopefully, you have all read Kate’s post “The New Myth of the Stay-at-Home Mom.” If not, please wander here when you have a chance. The long and short of it all is that sometimes you must put yourself first. Dirty dishes, laundry, and packing for your child be damned. If you are planning a family adventure (and I mean adventure in the loosest of terms…even a trip to Grandma’s house counts), this is a great time to follow such sound advice and take some time for yourself to strategize.
You are your child’s rock, base, and who he looks to as a first indicator of whether or not a situation is fun and comfortable. Whether your child is 3 weeks or 30 years old, he will always know when you are stressed. Traveling can cause a lot of emotional stress! Just a little bit of careful planning can reduce travel stress, and your family will love you for it. Through my travels with our daughter, I have discovered that four things can make or break my emotional traveling state. If you do nothing else for your next trip, please try these tips.
Tip 1: Bring your own blankie.
You take so much care in making sure that your child has their favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or lovey. While traveling, you should do the same for yourself! We are not just talking about blankets here. We are talking about something portable that can give you extra enjoyment when you need it most. We all identify certain items that bring us into our comfort zone, be it an awesome book you are reading, a favorite raw food snack bar that you tuck into your carry-on bag, meditation beads, or your favorite music. It can be anything just as long as you know that during a stressful time you can whip that puppy out and feel your joy level shoot up to the sky. I love packing special “momma only” snacks that I don’t get to have that often. It is instant pleasure.
Tip 2: Make sure you have designated God(dess) space.
If you are staying at a hotel during your travels, try to book at a place that you can get a suite or a room with an outside space (balcony or patio). This will alleviate any “feeling trapped by sleeping baby” feelings. My husband and I discovered this on a recent trip to California when we were upgraded to a room with a balcony. Completely fabulous! Don’t forget the baby monitor!
Tip 3: Have a special place for special documents.
Up your efficiency and lower stress by having everything you need (especially at the airport) when you need it. This includes birth certificates, confirmation numbers, driver licenses, etc. You will never have to frantically dig through bags while keeping an eye on the little one (or endure the deep thigh squat if you are wearing him), hold up lines, or waste time you could be spending gliding through security and getting a bite to eat instead. We have a dedicated gallon-sized Ziplock bag for this purpose when flying (and then we separate important documents after check-in).
Tip 4: Set aside special time to pack for yourself.
Just do it! The first time we flew with our daughter I had everything ready to go…everything except anything packed for me. The clock blinked 2am. We had a cab coming at 6am to take us to the airport. I wept. Now, I pack myself before I pack our daughter. A God(dess) who feels organized (and has the right pair of shoes and, ahem, remembers underwear) is a happy God(dess). You can make this happen in any number of ways…during naptime, in the evening after bedtime, having your partner take the kid(s) for a bit, or hire a babysitter for a few hours. Just make sure that it happens!
Join us in two weeks for the second installation of our Traveling Light series, Gods and Goddesses First, Part 2: Physical Baggage. Once you ditch the “stuff,” traveling is a breeze! Let’s use Spring as an inspiration and lighten our traveling loads! Happy travels!
Stephanie’s greatest packing achievement was for a 2.5 month journey to Kenya and Tanzania which included a geological field season, summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, a safari in the Masai Mara, and a snorkeling excursion in the Indian Ocean. She fit everything into a single backpack. She never wore any of those clothes ever again.
Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!