I was dreading traveling with Jack. It was right after his first birthday and it was going to be our first time flying as a family. Dan and I love to travel and swore we would never let a baby or child get in the way of us living out lives – so it was only a matter of time before we ripped this bandaid off.
You’ve probably heard the same stories of babies screaming because of ear pressure, blow outs on the airplane and everything and anything in between going wrong. I worried about everything – forgetting stuff, not having enough stuff, carrying all our stuff, going through TSA, being on the plane, getting sick from someone on the plane… or having a dreadful trip.
We consulted friends, searched the internet, sucked it up and made it happen!
Hopefully you’ll find some of the things we did and the tips we used to be useful!
In case you don’t know, we recently traveled to Sanibel & Captiva and stayed at the Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa. My complete Travel Guide to the islands can be found HERE. We chose this property because of the amenities and it was important to us to have everything within walking distance since we’ve never traveled with Jack before.
The resort was extremely accommodating to us at check in and check out, which was certainly helpful and our parking space was right underneath our room. We booked a Bayview Suite so we had a kitchen and living space which made naps/sleep so much easier! Our balcony was also accessible from both our living area and bedroom, which was such an unexpected perk! Jack had a crib, tub, plenty of space to roam around and a kiddy pool to play in.
We were able to catch every sunrise and watch every sunset as a family! We couldn’t get over how much Jack loved the water!
Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa was also kind enough to extend $100 Dining Credit for any guest who books a reservation before July 1st and stays now through December 20th when you mention my name, “Meghan” at the time of booking the reservation. The phone number is 1-800-223-5865 or 239-472-5161 with dinner reservations open to the public at the Old Captiva House on May 15th.
I think the best piece of advice that I can give any mom who’s considering traveling with a baby, is to simply do it! For every person who gives you a horror story, there are about 10 who have a wonderful experience. You won’t know unless you try and we only live once! Plus – my guess is that things have the ability to get more challenging as time goes on, or as your family grows. Might as well go while you can, ha!
- If you are worried or cautious like we were, pick something in the United States, or a country that has reputable health care and frequent transportation in case of an emergency. I know this might be a bit much for some to consider – but it’s the nurse in me. It gave us peace of mind for our first trip too.
- Choose a location that has access to a grocery story, pharmacy or gift shops in case you need common baby items. When we landed, we went to Target for essentials we didn’t want to pack like diapers, food pouches, sunscreen etc. Even after we did all of that, we forgot his toothbrush – so having a CVS close to our hotel was very convenient.
- Tip #3 depends on your baby’s age/size, but we opted to bring our Uppa Baby Mesa (infant car seat), instead of his Nuna Rava because the Mesa was smaller, lighter and had a handle. We also packed the carseat in a Gate Check Bag, so it was easy to unload and leave as soon as we parked. This bag held up perfectly fine and for $13 bucks was way more feasible than the brands travel covers that cost an arm and a leg!
- If you are flying, choose flights that are convenient for YOU and not your baby. You can’t predict anything when going through all this foreign stuff and your schedules are 100% going to change. Jack normally wakes up at 0730-0800, and we woke him up at 0300 to head to the airport. He stayed awake the entire hour long trip to the airport including all of security and finally fell asleep right before takeoff at 0700. None of this was his norm, but it worked PERFECTLY and I almost booked an afternoon flight to avoid “issues.”
- If you can spare extra money, booking extra room seats on a plane was helpful. We always prefer to fly on Jetblue Airlines because of their service and had Row 1 both ways. Our flight on the way down wasn’t full, so we were lucky enough to have the whole row. On the way home, the women at the gate moved the gentleman in our row to a different seat so we could have the whole row again for the way home.
- I know you’ve heard parents advocate for things to chew, suck on, eat and drink during take off, landing and throughout the flight. We brought a ton of stuff and options for him, and TSA was actually a breeze. We were lucky enough to have officers who recognized we needed a little extra TLC and they were accommodating! If any of you Moms are worried about bottles or breastmilk – they don’t open the containers (something I was paranoid about). Anyways… Jack fell asleep right before take off and landing for both flights and didn’t suck on or consume a thing. Not a single peep out of him for his ears — NOT. ONE. PEEP.
- Don’t bring 1,000 toys. I had a couple of books and probably half a dozen small toys with me. All Jack cared about was the plane seat belt and window cover. He enjoyed the hand puppet I made out of the puke bag as well. During the trip, he was mesmerized and occupied with the same scenery, birds and sights just like we were! If I did it all over again, I would bring two bedtime book options and that’s it!
- Do what YOU want to do. I am guilty of planning my day around Jack’s schedule at home. He naps in his crib 99% of the time and doesn’t really enjoy sleeping anywhere else. We were kind of worried about being imprisoned to our hotel room and not being able to do anything, and we were wrong about this too! We went about our business, and Jack slept great in his stroller! We also booked a Bayview Balcony Suite so we were able to enjoy wine and a view when we did have him nap in the room!
- You can RENT ANYTHING! If you visit Sanibel & Captiva like we did, look up Island Rentals! A couple we met at the pool said they rented a pack and play, bouncers and pool toys among other items and the company delivers it to your room before you get there and picks it up before you leave! How convenient?! If you google, “baby rentals” with the city you are traveling too, you can probably find something!
- If you can find a photographer – it is so worth it to do a family shoot! Memories last a lifetime you’ll never regret the splurge! This is a must-do on most vacations for us. If you visit Sanibel & Captiva, look up Milissa Sprecher who does incredible work!
My last and final bonus tip, especially if you care about photos – think NEUTRALS. Neutral clothes don’t have to be expensive, but if you take photos yourselves or with a photographer, you’ll want to look cohesive and timeless. I feel like most people with kids take a billion photos, so this is something simple you can plan for ahead of time to make things look that much nicer!
Hope you enjoyed reading! If you have Toddler Travel Tips — I’m all ears and will need them for next time!