Traveling with a baby means learning by doing. You won’t know what works best for your baby and yourself unless you’ve tried different options. On the downside, you’ll probably make mistakes that can turn a trip into a rather unpleasant experience. On the upside though, you probably won’t make the same mistake again and you’ll at some point have this traveling thing figured out and benefit from it for years. Here are some of the mistakes we made during our trips with Henrik and what we learned:
We booked a 7 am flight. For our very first holiday as a little family, we booked a package deal to Albufeira, Portugal. The good thing about packages is that everything is organized: the flight, the apartment and the pick up from and to the airport at your destinations. For those who like it, there’s also staff on sight who tell you about activities you can book. The disadvantage of this kind of travel though is that the flight times are not always ideal. In our case, it meant getting up at 4.30 am and waking Henrik up at that time, too. He wasn’t too grumpy once awake at first, but that soon changed. During the entire trip, you could tell he was suffering from the lack of sleep. He would sleep a bit on the plane, then a bit on the bus.. But just not enough to get the full amount of sleep he’s used to. He was completely thrown off his rhythm, we had totally underestimated that. It took about 2-3 days to get him back on track and have him sleep normally at night, which is quite a big part of a one week holiday. So we’ve never booked a flight that early again. When he was still used to his nap, our ideal flight time was in the morning between 9-11 am and in the afternoon after 3 pm.
I didn’t bring enough warm clothes for Henrik. Again the Portugal trip (you can tell it was our first one). We went there in March, but were expecting mild weather. Somehow I was more worried about packing too much stuff, which I usually tended to do with Henrik, than being practical. So once we were there, it was actually quite windy and as soon as the sun was gone, it would getpretty cold. I really hadn’t packed enough clothes, which is very annoying when you’re in a small village with almost no stores. We finally found one children’s clothing store that literally had one jumper in Henrik’s size. So even though I still try not to over-pack when we’re traveling as a family, I make sure to check the weather and have enough back up clothes.
I packed something essential in my checked-in luggage. When Henrik was 3 months old, I took a freelance job for a week at a research institute in Zurich. I had used to work there back when still living in Switzerland, and this one week project let me combine seeing my family and friends in Zurich while earning some money. We arrived on a Saturday and I was supposed to start on Monday. I have never had an airline loose my luggage during the short trip from Amsterdam to Zurich, so I never really thought about what not to pack into the checked-in suitcase. Of course just this one time, when having a breast pump ready so I could work away from home would be essential, my suitcase didn’t arrive. I was still breastfeeding Henrik full time, and any mother who has done so will know: not feeding or pumping for hours is simply not an option. On one hand, I could never prepare a big enough milk stash within the next day, on the other hand, it would mean pain, which you really can’t use while working. In the end, I was lucky that the farmacy in my mother’s neighborhood sold breast pumps and I bought the travel version of Medela. I even got the money back from my travel insurance. But I learned that anything as essential as this, that can impact the whole purpose of your trip, should go in your hand luggage whenever possible 🙂
So these are the mistakes I made during our very first trips. Others followed of course, I will tell more about them in a next post. It’s actually good to write things down and look back on them. To realize that while at the time those mistakes made (part of) a trip a challenge, we’ve learned from them and went on traveling and learned from new mistakes, and hopefully will do so for the coming years as well.