Deciding to Travel with a Baby-
When you are confronted with the option of taking your baby or toddler around the world, you need to ask yourself two questions: 1) Is this going to be expensive? & 2) Is this going to be hard? The simple answer to both questions is an emphatic yes. Your patience will wear to the thinnest it ever has and your wallet will be as flat as your brainwaves after an 18 hr. flight. But, there is much to be learned from experiencing such an adventure as traveling the globe with your child and family.
Skipping ahead a bit, here we are happy in Florence, Italy. -All photos captured on my iPhone
When our little monster was two months old we went and applied for her U.S. passport due to a few upcoming travel possibilities. With Dee being so young, the most common comment we received was “good luck”. We perfectly understood what they were saying, but thought the opposite. We viewed traveling as a chance to become closer to one another and to open our minds to such a big world. Our reason for having Dee in the first place was to share this idea with her. Her first round the world trip started when she was 11 months old and took us to nearly a dozen stops before returning home four months later.
Flying Long Distances-
After securing the required tourist visas for a few countries through Travisa, our westward journey began. Leaving in the middle of the rainy season from Portland, Oregon, we broke ourselves into the groove of long distance flights with an 18 hour backbreaker across the Pacific to Chengdu, China. If you have ever ridden on a greyhound bus, then you know how uncomfortable and long the ride can be. Flying this long is much worse. I wish there was a way to enjoy the flight but there really isn’t. It’s hard enough sitting still and keeping yourself entertained for that long, but its much more difficult if you have to entertain a baby.
When the airlines see that you are carrying a baby for the duration of such a long flight, they will try to offer you the bassinet seats. This consists of front row seats with a small baby hammock hanging from the wall of the airplane. This might sound grand, but its absolutely wasn’t. The bassinet seats are located right next to the bathrooms and and in our case, directly below the projection screen that plays movies for the entire flight. If your baby enjoys sleeping with the lights on and being continually bumped by strangers, then this is the place to be. Your best bet might just be the extra seat. A pacific crossing usually costs about $500-750. If you’ve got the extra cash, its worth every penny.
Odds are that you didn’t buy an extra seat for an 11 month old baby. This means that you packed an entire roller bag full of entertainment. Computer, kindle, leap pad, iPad, hand held poker game, books, 99 cent store gifts, glow sticks and slinky’s. Even though your baby can barely hold, let alone use any of these items, they can mean the difference between sanity and hiding at the back of the plane with an oddly timed bout of airsickness. Our best kept secret is a visit to the 99 cent store the day before departure. We wrap a gift for every hour we are on a plane. 18 gifts for $18 isn’t a bad trade off if it keeps the monster busy.
With one carry on full of entertainment, then the other one has to have food and diapers. Flying is stressful for almost everyone and this can play havoc on the little ones eating and pooing schedule. Pack food as you pack entertainment and bring everything that TSA will let you. Crunch snacks, jarred mash, finger foods, candy, water, yoghurt, milk, and of course extra breast milk if you are still doing so. TSA has relaxed guidelines for baby food and drink. Just don’t bring anything that is too large and full of a liquid. You can always bring an empty Nalgene bottle and fill it up after going through security. Be sure to double check if you have any questions about any of your items- www.tsa.gov.
That takes up the top half of the second carry on. The other half is diapers and wipes. You should pack at least one diaper for every hour that you will be without any access to more. 18 hrs. until we see our luggage = 18 diapers. The same attitude goes for wipes as well. Pack two whole packages (120 ct.) to be sure. If its any indication of the amount of diapers that can be used, we went through 15 getting to China. As for wipes, we ran out.
At the end of your grueling flight, the blank stares have come over everyones face except for the baby. You have become so immune to crying at this point that you usually carry on as if nothing is going on. The hotel near the airport is so close but so far away due to the holdup in getting your eight pieces of luggage. We have never been stiffed by the airport and hope this continues. But, the best defense against this becoming a problem are the small baggage claim receipts that you were using to wipe your child’s backside with when you ran out of wipes over Tokyo. Keep them next to your passports.
With luggage received, we hopped in a cab and convinced the driver to take us to our reserved room at the Holiday Inn. After two stops at the wrong hotel, you begin to think that he has no idea where to go. Just keep insisting that you proceed until he gets it right. An hour taxi ride later and you have arrived at your hotel. You pay 60 yuan and bid the driver good riddance. The nightmare is officially over. Smiling faces and clean carpets greet you to your room that is completely Westernized and comfortable. It’s now 1 am to your body, but to your brain it’s 9 am in the morning. You just spent 18 hrs. on planes and a total of 24hrs. traveling… Welcome to China.
-We’ll continue tomorrow with Part 2: Jet-Lagged and Cold
Here is a list of the most important sites with links to their web pages we visited before embarking on this trip-
www.travel.state.gov Possible safety issues, required vaccines & US Passport application.
www.travisa.com Visa Information for every country- Step by step instructions for applying.
www.kayak.com Flight information & Reservations- We used them for 75% of our travels.
www.klm.com Royal Dutch Airways offering round the world tickets, good place to start but expensive.
www.tsa.gov What you can and can’t bring on a plane. Alway good to read before you go.