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March 9, 2010

Traveling with an infant part 2: Planning Your Day Once You are at Your Destination

Each day on a trip with an infant comes with new challenges. Here are some things you might want to consider to make your day go smoothly.

So you wake up in the morning and you really need that morning coffee--if at all possible have it in your room if you are traveling alone. The best is if you are at hotel that offers a complimentary breakfast--this way you can start your day already caffeinated and fed. From my experience--navigating a new city with an infant and a coffee in hand just doesn't work well.

During the day, flexibility is key. Have a list of activities that you want to do and sights that you want to see while vacationing, but don't be rigid with a schedule. If you get 6 out of 10 things done on that list--consider it a success!

You know your baby better than anyone else--so if they had a rough night or they woke up much earlier than they are used to it is probably best for everyone involved that you choose an activity that is not going to create the potential for major meltdowns. Again, when possible, be flexible.

Plan some Down time. Even though you are tempted to fit it all in while on vacation--you are no longer capable of doing it all. Plan for some down time every day of your trip. This could mean a swim in the hotel pool, nap times in the room (for everyone) or even an afternoon where nothing is planned and you could fill in some things if you have the energy. With your infant try to get at least one of their naps in the room (although I have found the most successful days are the ones where all their naps are in the room as rest on the go just is not the same as a nap in their bed).

Along with the down-time, plan some physical activity for you little one. Even though you have them in your carrier or your stroller all day--make sure they have time to get moving too. Plan some play time for them whether it's in the hotel pool, at a park or just some plain old floor time in the hotel. Even though you are walking all over the place they may not have had much time to use their muscles--so give them some wiggle room!

Location, Location, Location. Thanks to google maps you can get a pretty good estimate of how long it will take you to get to your destination (walking, by car or by transit). Look into it before you start schlepping your baby around everywhere.

Pack snacks and bottles/nursing canopy in your diaper bag--no matter what. Even if you think that you will be back in the room before they need their next feed--you never know what will happen to get you off schedule. And remember they are off schedule anyway so they might surprise you with an unscheduled need to feed. Don't forget about yourself: pack snacks and beverages for you too--especially water.

Accessibility. Find out how you are going to get around with your baby. See if the activity is do-able with a stroller. Find out if there are ramps, automatic doors, elevators. Most popular places in cities are accessible but sometimes the "accessible" is really inaccessible or a hassle. For instance today, at a very popular tourist destination, the accessible doors were not working and staff were not assisting at the door. The other surprise is the lack of change tables in washrooms. Make sure wherever you go you can either find a place to change your baby where you are comfortable or that they have family-friendly facilities.

When your baby is napping either nap as well or take the time to get organized for your next activity--pack that diaper bag, google map your destination, read about it in your travel book. Those few extra minutes will help everything run smoothly.

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