In my last post I touched upon the essentials for flying with a baby (or babies). Now these are some tips on what to do once you arrive at your destination. This post is geared to the hotel crowd, but if you are staying with family and friends, this could be very helpful too.
1. Look Before You Book
Call the hotel you are thinking of booking and ask them about their child policies. Do they offer cribs? Pack and plays? High chairs? Do they have kid-friendly activities? Babysitting services? Is there a pool? (If you have two babies, be sure to ask if the room is big enough for two cribs.) Find out about laundry, room service and having a refrigerator in the room. Ask for a room that gets less light or has black out shades to encourage great napping habits. Read reviews. Do your homework.
2. Ship Ahead
Instead of lugging and schlepping all of your baby accouterments with you, ship them. You will probably save money in airline fees by not having to pay for luggage/insane overweight charges. We also had less stuff on the plane, and everything was ready for us once we checked in. Last time we shipped a huge box of diapers, overnight diapers, wipes, a few sippy cups, crackers, portable high chairs and our travel cribs. Sounds insane right? It actually packed up rather neatly, and we were able to check it under the plane on the way home. Keep in mind you’ll use diapers/wipes/food during the trip, so you won’t be bringing them back. It felt awesome.
3. Plan. Of. Action.
Always have a plan of action. Kids don’t love to be off schedule. They are also always hungry. Always (at least mine are). You need to be ready to feed them, not only in the air, but when you land. This means knowing where they will eat their first meal upon arrival. If it is a restaurant, does it offer things your kids like to eat? If it's prepared food, do you have it with you or will you need to buy and/or heat it up?
I highly suggest locating the nearest grocery store to the airport/hotel. We planned to stop at a Whole Foods on our last trip. There we stocked up on our weekly essentials: milk, string cheese, crackers, bread, hummus, fruits/veggies and bottled waters. We had already ensured that there would be a refrigerator in our room for all of these goodies (make sure its not just the mini bar which is already crammed with mini bottles of things you wouldn’t want your kiddos to ingest…. but that you might want to ingest at a weak moment during the brutal time change adjustment). Make sure you have a small cooler bag with you for day trips/snacks (maybe you already brought this on the plane).
Make sure you also have a plan of action to purchase diapers, wipes, formula, etc. if you haven’t brought them/shipped ahead. Knowing the location of the nearest Target can be golden information. And speaking of golden….
4. Sleep is golden.
R + M have never loved pack and plays, so I invested in the BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light. It packs up very small, and the kids love it. When they sleep, we sleep and everyone is much happier. I brought two sets of sheets for each child. If you are going to use the hotel crib/pack and play, I recommend bringing your own sheets. Two sets would be safe. If you are using conjoining rooms for you and the kids, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a travel monitor with you. And any noise machines that they are used to from home. We are big sleep sheep fans and it comes in a convenient travel size.
5. High Chair Drama
Having twins means it is virtually impossible to feed them on my lap. We need chairs. Specifically, chairs that restrain our kids from going some places we don’t want them to be during meal time. I am very partial to the Phil & Teds Lobster Chair. They clip onto almost any and every table. They are lightweight and take minimal time to assemble. We throw them in the basket of the stroller and use them constantly. We shipped them ahead and used them A LOT. On the way home, we placed them in our stroller bag which we checked (did you know there’s no charge to check a stroller bag?).
I also recommend asking your hotel about high chairs. In one room, there wasn’t a table big enough to clip our portable chairs on. We asked the hotel if we could “borrow” two of their wooden high chairs for our stay, so we always had a place to feed meals/snacks in the room.
6. Naps/Time Changes
Schedule your day and your activities around a nap. There’s really no other way. Kids are flexible, but they need down time.You’ll enjoy it too. If you over-schedule, prepare for a meltdown.
As for time changes, I read lots of different opinions. Some experts recommended preparing kids before the trip. I really wasn’t interested in messing with our sleep routine at home (12 straight unadulterated hours. Nope not touching that). Yes, the time change was not fun the first day. Yes my kids woke up at 4 am on the west coast thinking it was 7 am at home. Yes, I drank ridiculous amounts of coffee that day. But, I was persistent and kept them up until their typical nap time. Then I kept them up until their typical bed time. It took 2 days and they were right on track. Just prepare yourself that it won’t be fun. Time changes never are.
7. The Obvious. (Kind of).
Check the weather. Pack enough clothes. Pack a coat if it’s cold. Pack swimsuits if you are swimming. If you want to pack lighter, think about laundry. Bring a delicate wash with you. Bring Shout wipes. Make sure you have all of the feeding goods: spoons, sippy cups, bibs, bowls. (We love these wipeable placemats that are silicon and can’t be easily thrown off the table). Make it feel like home. Have some books. Have a few toys (don’t go overboard). Bring outlet covers. You might not be able to childproof completely, but that will give you peace of mind.
Hopefully these tips will add a little ease to your upcoming journey. Smile. Take lots of pictures. Enjoy the moments and even the meltdowns. Make memories.