Friday, August 30, 2013

Travelling Light: the new baby edition

Last Christmas we were away from home for almost a month. 

We had a wedding, a week on the Gold Coast, and Christmas, all interspersed with visits with family. 

Five of us: the smallest of whom was eight weeks old at the start of our trip.  Five of us needing a whole lot of different gear to cater for the different actual scenarios we were going to encounter.

We were going to need a car while we were in Brisbane, but timing meant we had to fly there on the day before my sister was getting married.  So my mum drove our car down for us, and took with her our stroller, a travel bassinet, and a bag of Christmas presents, as well as the kids’ carseats. Everything else we needed came with us on the plane, and it all had to fit in the car to come home again.

This was our pile of bags at the airport:

I thought it was far too much, but I couldn't get it down much further than that. The blue Converse bag had all our wedding outfits; half of the big black suitcase was Christmas and birthday presents that I had bought ahead of time because I wasn't sure if I could get them easily while we were away. (We have a lot of family, and a disproportionate number of birthdays around Christmas.)  

It’s not the first time we’ve travelled with a baby. All three of our kids have made the trip to visit their grandparents sometime in their first few months, and again later in their first year (our youngest is heading down for her second trip in a few weeks time, just before her first birthday). In that time, I’ve moved from a pack-for-every-possible-eventuality type traveller to an if-it-can’t-fit-in-a-carry-on-it-can’t-come. 

Here’s what I've learnt about travelling with young children: 
1. Buy nappies and wipes when you arrive at your destination. I usually just pack in my carry-on enough to get me through to when I can get to the shops.
2. Consider hiring or borrowing car seats, porta-cots, high chairs, and strollers at your destination. (Virgin and Qantas both include this as bonus baggage on the plane, but, for me, the cost of hiring is worth not needing to lug them to and from the airport.)  Or, consider even which of these things you can do without while you are away.  
3. Use a baby carrier at the airport. If you don’t have one, borrow one. Putting Miss M a carrier meant I had one hand free to drag a wheeled suitcase and one had free for to hold Little J’s hand. 
4. Stay somewhere that you can wash. The less clothes you can take for everyone means the less you need to carry. 
5. Don’t take too many toys and things to keep the kids entertained.  Find things to do at your destination. 
6. The smaller the baby, the more you need to take for them. Muslin wraps. Extra clothes in case of leaked nappies. 

What are you tips for travelling light with a baby?