We made it through our first vacation trip – international nonetheless! – with the babies! Hooray! Earlier this month, Josh and I went to Puerto Vallarta with Kirsten and Logan, and my in-laws for our family’s traditional spring break. Since then, my inbox has been flooded with people asking for tips we learned and what to bring / not bring, and so I thought it would be helpful to put it all down here for you! If you are glazing over already at the thought, feel free to skip it and move on with your day. :)
First of all, let’s talk travel days. Oofda. We went into the day knowing this would be the hardest day since our very scheduled kids would be entirely off schedule. I feel like having the mentality that it wasn’t going to be typical made it easier to stay flexible with all of the twists and turns headed our way. Over all, despite the fact that we woke them up nearly 2 hours before their regular wake-up time, and the fact that instead of napping 5 hours during the day, they took a short 20 minute airplane nap, it went as good as it could have! Here’s my tips for making travel days as smooth as possible, including some things we did, didn’t do and wish we had, and could have skipped.
The only proof I have that they actually did sleep a few short minutes. :)
- Stay organized. Josh had all of our passports, tickets, and paperwork in this handy family pouch with built in traveling security and it made it a breeze to quickly hand over items throughout all the check-ins, security checks, and gate stops.
- Bring a stroller that is comfy. We loved using our Joovy double stroller because the seats individually recline so one baby could lay back with a bottle and the other could sit up and people watch. It also has a gigantic storage bin underneath that made it easy to toss things in, as well as zippered pouches in the shade cover so we could stuff Lysol and hand wipes in one, and snacks in the other.
- Plan ahead for food. I wish I had thought out their day a little better. I didn’t quite have as many clean bottles and nipples as I should have to keep them quiet on the plane. I loaded up on snacks for them and got a giant pill box from the Dollar Store and put snacks in each day so it would entertain them. I taped it shut with wasi tape because they pop open easily and the tape also acted as a fun “toy” for them to play with, leaving no residue behind. Cheerios, puffs, ritz crackers and yogurt bites were very popular! I also had a little cooler packed with my breastmilk that had some cheesesticks, yogurts and applesauce in it, however, the yogurt and applesauce with two babies was incredibly impractical and messy. Next time I will pack something they can easily eat on a tray, like some chopped cheese, lunchmeat, olives, steamed green beans, etc. They were hungry because let’s be honest, snacks don’t fill you like they should. I wish I was more prepared with food for them and also, wish I would have brought their (empty) water sippy cups so I didn’t feel like I always needed to give them milk when they were thirsty.
- Check the airport for a lactation room. Our MSP airport had a perfect lactation suite (single-family) that had a chair and a table with an outlet so I could pump before boarding. It fit our double stroller and Josh could come in as well. There was a clean, non-bathroom changing table for them, a full sink area for washing pump parts and plenty of space for them to hang out. We gave them their bottles in there, changed them before boarding, and fed them breakfast. It was perfect and took away a lot of stress of having to pump in an airport bathroom.
- Keep your carry–on simple. I had four Ziplocs in my carry on, one with toys, one with snacks, one with meds and one with cleaning items. My toy bag had a new teething toy, a tray table activity center, a stuffed rattle hanger, and a book. That was it and it was more than enough. My snack bag had the snack pill box, a few teething biscuits (messy), and some ritz crackers. My cleaning bag had travel Lysol wipes, a norwex cloth, hand and face wipes, pacifier and toy wipes, and hand sanitizer. My medicine Ziploc had Tylenol in there with two syringes just in case, Benadryl because I am paranoid about allergic reactions, their teething oil, and saline spray. A nurse friend suggested squirting saline spray pre and post flight to wash away all the germy mucus from their nose. I love my Lo & Sons bag because the zippered bottom part is where I packed my personal snacks, headphones, a book, and misc items for momma. Wallet and phone zippered on the outside and the bag slid on top of my wheeling suitcase which made it easy to handle.
- Bring an extra set of clothes for them and you. I totally forgot this and Logan was a disaster by the time we got to the resort. His onesie could have used a changing. Also, when I was spit up on, if I had a clean shirt, I could have easily made a switch and avoided smelling like puke.
- Other things learned: Ask the airport if there is a family line for security. Some places have them and you can avoid the long lines. MSP doesn’t, but we were shooed into the first class line and it took only a handful of minutes. Plan to take all snacks out of your carry-ons. Again, this is why the Ziploc packing was helpful! Bring a blanket with and if your child gets fussy while waiting, play a quick game of parachute over the stroller. This created lots of giggles and I was thankful! If you are traveling with a pump and breast milk, read up on the TSA’s website. We had no issues whatsoever. Don’t forget if you are pumping and traveling, it’s so important for momma to stay fed and hydrated. I spaced on this in the chaos and my supply took a travel day hit for sure. Pack an empty water bottle in your carry-on and fill up at the airport, or grab a liter bottle from a shop. Bottles at take- off and landing help with the ear changes for them. Snag an extra blanket from the flight attendant when you board to tuck under your arm for support in case your child falls asleep, so much more comfortable. Take out your phone and headphones and have them close by if they do fall asleep, you aren’t stuck.
Now, once we got to the resort, we tried hard to keep our schedules the same as they would have been back home. I knew this would help them know what to expect and also, would help us too! Our days looked like this:
- 7:30-8:00: wake-up, bottles, dressed
- 8:00 – 9:00: breakfast with the family, morning walk, Starbucks run
- 9:00 – 9:30: playtime in the room, snuggles, get ready for naps
- 9:30-11:30: morning nap
- 11:30 – 1:30: bottles, sunscreen, changed into suits, pool time, beach time, lunch
- 1:30 -2:00: baths, unwind time in the room
- 2:00 – 4:00: afternoon naps
- 4:00-6:00: bottles, dinner, a walk, playtime
- 6:00-6:30: bedtime bottles, pajamas, bedtime
Josh and I would take turns on who would stay in the room for naps so we each got a “free” period each day. This also meant we needed about 4 outifts a day for the kids. A morning outfit since AM’s are generally chillier (we did onesies with jogging suits and then they could sleep in the onesie and pants for AM naps), their beach attire, their post-bath nap and hangout outfit, and their dinner outfit. Oh and also pajamas for bedtime.
Tips for the hotel stay:
- Bring everything from home that makes your child comfortable for bedtime. We had their sound machine, susher, video monitor, sleepsuits, and pacifiers. We brought down two pack’n’plays, although it is worth asking the hotel what they would provide. If you bring down your own pack’n’play, don’t forget the sheets!
- Create a play area. We put down 2 folded blankets from the hotel, and then our Lessy Messy playmat over it and set up their toys there. We surrounded the area with pillows because the floor was HARD. We tossed down their toys.
- Bring toys that are small yet versatile. We packed a lot of things that were condensed, but could come apart, like stacking cups, blocks, this sesame street stacking toy which was a huge hit, their beloved eggs, and a few books. A lot of the toys we brought were “new” so they hadn’t seen them before which kept them entertained longer with only the few.
- Know your area. If you are traveling somewhere you can Amazon prime wipes and diapers to the hotel, do that instead of packing them. We knew we didn’t want to travel to Walmart in town, so we packed what we needed. We knew we could get some of their snacks at the grocery store and what they wouldn’t carry for a reasonable price.
- Have a medicine bag handy. We brought it all. Tylenol, ibuprofen, cough medicine, chest rub, Benadryl, gripe water, gas drops, teething rub, and their vitamin D drops. We didn’t want to be caught without something, especially in another country, and we ended up using all of it except the chest rub!
- Think through what the hotel will provide and what of theirs your actually need. We knew they had towels so we left theirs at home. We like their norwex baby washrags for their soft faces, so we brought our own. (PS – I am a Norwex consultant so if you ever need to order anything, just holler. I will give you a 10% off blog-reader discount!)
- Bring travel items you can leave behind. We brought a few things that we could simply use and leave behind without creating much waste. For example, a cheap bottle brush to use down there, dollar store loofahs (my sister in law suggested this one!), travel size bath products, and sterilizer bags. I loved having sterilizer bags down there so at the end of the night, I could toss in things that needed a good cleaning from a busy day in a variety of places. We also LOVED having disposable bibs and placemats with us. It made it so easy to leave behind and also, made me feel more comfortable to put their food on the table with this under it.
And finally, for the beach. Don’t forget a beach bag! We did and had to borrow my mother-in-laws extra bag.
- Beach bag: We made sure we have a pacifier for them in there, pacifier wipes, a few toys, extra sunscreen, some snacks, hand wipes, beach towels, their cups of water and sunhats. Also, its so worth it for mom and dad to grab a waterproof phone case! We used this one for all of our pool pictures and the quality came out awesome! We also liked this pop up pit for the beach. We threw a towel down and the kids could hang out there without getting sandy. It folds up super small and is very light weight too.
All in all, traveling with infants is a lot of work, haha, but creates some very fun family memories. Take lead on what your baby is needing. Some evenings we just needing to stay in and play as a family and keep the chaos to a minimum. Some days they needed a longer nap or an earlier bedtime. I hear it only gets easier as they get older …. One can only hope, hehe!
What did I miss? Do you have any questions for me about specifics? I’d love to answer them! Leave them below or feel free to contact me via email through my contact page!
And of course, I can’t leave you without a few fun pictures of the highlights of our trip! (No, the highlights don’t include the 24 hours Josh and I had food poisoning … and special thank you to my mother and father in law for saving the day with extra TLC for the kiddos!)
This post contains some affiliate links of some of our favorite go-to products.