Traveling with Baby- Touring and Eating Out
Believe it or not, day time can be MORE stressful than night when traveling with a baby. Changes in schedule, routine and stimulation can throw everyone for a loop. Here’s how we’ve managed touring around while traveling with a baby:
- When going out for the day, be sure to bring the appropriate gear. This may seem obvious, but going out without enough diapers, sunscreen or without baby’s lovey can make or break your day of sightseeing. Somehow we forgot a pacifier a couple of times and things got ugly, so be sure one is clipped to baby!
- Consider if the stroller or wearing baby is more conducive for the day ahead. Sometimes it’s worth having both- Emmylou always slept in the ERGO so I would wear her on walks/hikes that coincided with nap times but she didn’t like being worn all day long.
- When out touring, expect baby to fight naps until the point of exhaustion. With new scenery and stimulation, baby will be less likely to fall asleep. Once they are super tired, they will pass out (I promise; wear baby when they seem over-tired or fussy)! Using a car seat cover to block baby’s view can also be helpful to encourage a nap.
- Do not expect normal nap times or length while traveling. Emmylou has a solid routine at home but that pretty much goes out the window when we travel. We try our best to give her opportunities to sleep as we go but don’t worry too much- if they’re tired, they’ll sleep.
- Apply sunscreen before leaving and any time you have a meal…this helps you remember to re-apply often and avoid having to rub on sunscreen once baby has fallen asleep in the stroller.
- Be sure to let baby out to play whenever it’s safe to do so. Babies cannot (and should not) be in car seats, strollers or carried all day long. It’s important to build in opportunities for physical activity for baby. This can be as simple as tummy time while you explore a museum/art gallery or crawling around a park (or in this case, winery). Physical activity will also help with baby’s sleep!
- Incorporate baby activities into your sight-seeing (visit parks or let baby interact with the environment). Emmylou got to dip her toes in the water at the Great Barrier Reef on this day!
- We have also learned not to over plan- this means that there may be some days of the trip that we are going all day but that night we plan to be home early for her to sleep well. Or, if we had a more low-key day and she had a solid nap, then we can probably push bedtime back and enjoy dinner out. It’s all about balance. And let’s be honest, if baby is relaxed and happy, you will be relaxed and happy!
- Try not to plan repeated days of non-stop activity. Aim to give yourself and baby a day of “rest” in between each full-day tour or excursion to be more relaxed or “closer to home” for solid naps in the room (or on Daddy’s chest by the pool, haha). Trust me, this makes your trips much more enjoyable! Babies are flexible but ultimately need more rest than adults.
- When booking accommodations, choose a room or location that is ideal. Splurge for a great location or resort-style hotel that enables easy access to activities and amenities. With baby’s nap schedules, “rest days” can be much more enjoyable if spouses can take turns going to the gym or out while baby naps. It’s also important to focus on easy access to the features of your location (beach or city sights). If you are miles from the beach or city centre and have to walk or use public transit to access it, you will be less likely to enjoy being there and relax. It’s worth the extra cost up-front to have an ideal location, especially with a little one in tow.
- Try to plan for a separate space to hang out while baby sleeps. This can be a balcony or suite-style room. Being able to enjoy yourself while baby naps in the room makes a big difference in your enjoyment of the trip! This was our view from our balcony in Glenelg Beach; we watched the sunset and drank wine while Emmylou slept- now that’s vacation!
Along with touring, eating out while traveling can be tricky with a baby.
- Plan ahead to ensure dining success: Make a booking/reservation in advance and pack snacks and activities for baby to enjoy while you dine.
- Pack essential feeding accessories like a spoon, cup and silicone bib (that can be completely washed and dried easily; we wash our bib in the shower each night).
- Borrow a washcloth from the hotel to wipe baby down with after the meal (we bring it wet and store it in the silicone bib pocket).
- Meals need to be kept fairly quick in order for everyone to enjoy.
- We also try to incorporate Emmylou (and Bunny, haha) into the dining experience, as much as possible. This really helps keep her entertained and engaged.
- Try to go to dinner on the earlier side (unless baby will reliably sleep through a later dinner). The early dinner crowd is smaller, more forgiving and service tends to be faster! See how empty this restaurant was? When we left, it was packed!
- Feed baby from the local table/cuisine whenever possible! Instead of packing a huge supply of pouches and puffs (which can be heavy/bulky), aim to feed baby from your plate as much as possible. We fed Emmylou lots of things like scrambled eggs, avocado, mashed veggies and french fries. And sometimes baby gets ice cream too; it’s vacation, right?!
- Vary the style of restaurants you eat at (sit-down or take–away). If there is a good place for baby to lay or play nearby, carry-out food or get picnic supplies from a market so you can eat as baby enjoys some play time.
Babies are really portable and easy to tote around if you plan ahead and adjust your expectations for travel. We have found that touring new places with a baby is SO fun because you get to see it through their eyes and sense of wonder. It’s so worth the extra gear and effort to travel with your little one.
K, J, EL & P