Six survival tips to help you enjoy your holiday travels with your baby
Winter is coming, and with it, the pressure of traveling “home” for the holidays. If you’re like me, you are surprised at just how early people push you to travel with a newborn for the holiday season. I always thought having a baby meant people would come to me. Didn’t happen.
When my husband was deployed during our son’s first Christmas, I decided to head back to the States and soak up some family time. The trip involved a nine-hour plane ride from Germany to the United States, and from there, several road trips to see family.
I actually find traveling with newborns and babies to be much easier than traveling with toddlers. They don’t go anywhere, they don’t need any entertainment, and they are (relatively) easy to tote around. They do require a bunch of “stuff,” but even that can be pared down when traveling.
Here are some tips for traveling solo with your newborn this holiday season:
1. Bring extra clothes for yourself. Solo Moms always remember to pack multiple extra sets of clothes for the baby, especially a newborn. But what you really need to remember is an extra set of clothes for yourself, especially a clean shirt. Because the second that baby vomits all over you, which will happen if you don’t pack one, you’ll really wish you had.
2. Pack more diapers than you think you’ll need. You know how day-care centers ask for one diaper per hour? That’s not a bad idea. Sure, you don’t normally change your baby every hour, on the hour. (If you do, stop now, and step away from the changing table.) But newborns poop—a lot. So although you may not change your baby during the few hours while he or she is sleeping, the next hour you may change him or her as much as three times. Lots of diapers are key here.
3. Don’t overschedule. You just had a baby, and you still need rest. Don’t let anyone overschedule you. This is your visit, your vacation, your baby. So try to make sure you have some downtime when traveling and visiting. Your baby can nap anywhere, but protect those nap times, and make sure you set aside time for yourself to relax as well. This is especially key if you are breastfeeding, which takes a lot of calories and energy, and if you are stressed or tired, your milk supply will show it.
4. Borrow things. The list of things you’ll want to have on hand for your baby when you travel is long, but consider borrowing from friends, family, or even the local pregnancy center when on vacation. Luckily, at the newborn stage, your baby will really only need a car seat, and even that you potentially can borrow from a trusted friend. Boppies, swings, and bouncer seats sure make our lives easier, but they aren’t worth hauling along on a road trip or trying to check on an airplane, especially if you are traveling alone. You and your baby will survive without them, I promise.
5. Accept help. On that first solo trip across the ocean with my newborn, I quickly realized that I didn’t have to do it all. I was able to accept help from others and even ask for help at times. I realized that most people are willing to help but are afraid of being turned down or snapped at. You may also be able to help out other Solo Moms throughout your travels.
6. Don’t fret the germs. Why do the holidays coincide with cold and flu season? I promise, the world is not out to get you and your baby. When people travel they frequently get sick from being rundown and in such close quarters. Newborns still have antibodies from their mothers for the first month or two. Breastfed babies have these antibodies longer. When traveling, especially by air, it’s best to try to keep everyone else away. “Babywearing” is helpful in these cases because it makes it harder for strangers to cough on or touch your baby. During cold and flu season, more people should understand your request for them to wash their hands before touching your baby.
Traveling with children as a Solo Mom is never completely enjoyable or relaxing, but it can be less frantic than you expect. One really great thing about traveling with a newborn is that you usually have to do it only once per kid. By the time the holidays roll around next year, you’ll be traveling solo with a toddler, and that, dear Solo Mom, is a completely different adventure.
Rebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. Her writing experience includes military-family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY magazine and a regular contributor to several online publications, including the Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, and ESME. She also has been published in Ms. magazine and the Atlantic. You can follow her online at www.whatrebeccathinks.com and on Twitter and Instagram.