Some might say you’re Crazy!
No, you’re not crazy and yes, you can have a brilliant holiday with your new baby. We did, despite all the cliché comments and well-intended advice that was slung our way beforehand. Words that could have easily had us run a mile from the thought of holidaying with an infant. If you’re a new parent who loves to travel, then chances are you have encountered similar “words of wisdom” too.
Recently we travelled from Wellington to Hawaii for an 8 night holiday with our 5month old baby. A baby who exudes typical baby behaviour such as crying for unknown reasons and waking countless times through the night. A baby who adds so much joy to our family, yet challenges us too. A baby who is probably just like yours.
Here are our tips, tricks, and discoveries that might just make your first long haul laden with infant a rewarding and memorable family holiday.
A mini trip beforehand sheds valuable insight
When baby was 3 months, a mini adventure (domestic flight, ferry ride and road trip) was perfect for learning what our daughter needs when travelling. Insight which proved crucial for the impending long haul.
Here’s what we learnt:
- Personal space for baby gives her much needed downtime, and mums shoulder won’t do. If that personal space is a bassinet or Moses basket we would now travel with the baby monitor so we feel comfortable leaving her quietly in her won space. Alternatively a buggy with enclosed space she enjoys being in. (Ie: not the capsule/buggy combo) or a play mat she’s familiar with to lay on and stretch out with toys. For the trip to Hawaii we took a buggy attachment that was large enough for baby to stretch out in, and a Muslin blanket to lay out on with toys.
- Overhead announcements in public places like airport or ferry terminals can disturb babies well needed sleep. Our solutions was to buy a pair of babybanz earmuffs for the trip to Hawaii which were well used, particularly during long airport waits.
- Flights seemed to chill our baby; she slept the entire way, totally unphased by the experience. However, crowds and groups of people are unsettling for her. Great to know since everybody who passes seem to enjoy making unsolicited contact with her; thus a rear facing front prick or muslin throw can help keep her settled in busy spaces, and we can fly without feeling too anxious beforehand.
Accommodation selection is now more important than ever
It now takes longer to become organised and leave the hotel. Sometimes too, our little one needs an hour between activities to lay down on a mat and stretch her legs out, or her nap time is an opportunity for wary parents to rest. In short; there are now times where being at the accommodation are both necessary and delightful.
But when on holiday one doesn’t want to feel like they’re trapped in a boring old square box, away from the destination they came to see. So we meticulously picked accommodation with spacious balconies which also had lovely views of the destination. We also chose places where there were plenty of things to do from the accommodation such as snorkel or surf right from the resort’s door, or grab a beer or cocktail to have on the balcony, poolside or at the beachside restaurant. Private pool villas or pool access rooms can be perfect for allowing parents to enjoy holidaying while baby sleeps too! (We love Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaii, for an enjoyable holiday with an infant).
Pack accessories that baby sleeps in on the move
Thankfully our daughter sleeps contently in a buggy, front pack, or in the car. For that reason we booked a hire car, took our own capsule (for the hire car), front pack, and buggy. Doing so allowed us to go for hikes while she slept, explore new towns during nap time, and even have late night drinks and dinner after she’s gone to sleep.
Spend 1-2nights longer than normal at each place
Most parents have heard themselves lament how little it seems is accomplished in one day. Travelling is no different. Before our daughter was born we’d pack in as many sights and activities as possible each day, maximising daylight hours, and exploring every inch of a destination. With our daughter in tow we learnt it’s best to pick one activity per day, and allow for a day or two where rest might win over the very best intentions. For Hawaii, we stayed for 5 nights on the North Shore at Turtle Bay Resort (perfect for family vacations), and 3 nights in Waikiki.
Beach days are different now.
A 5 month old baby can’t spend long periods of time on a beach, in the heat, or in the ocean. A beach day with a 5 month old means a short period of time holding baby upright while she explores the sand in her fingers and toes, then holding her in the ocean for a dip. These kind of beach experiences are a lot of fun, but vastly different to how they used to be. We enjoyed having other things to do in the day, aside from just beach time.
Take a baby rain coat
Downpours happen, especially on tropical islands, and having a baby rain coat allows exploration opportunities even when the weather isn’t favourable.
Night flights with bassinet work best
We found the evening flights preferable to day flights. Having paid additional for a bassinet, baby slept just as though she were in bed at home.
A typical day for our family holiday
Here’s what a typical day looked like for us, when travelling with a 5 month old.
Baby wakes the family up ready to start the day. Enjoying a slow pace to prepare for the day ahead, we ate pre-purchased breakfasts while feeding baby in the hotel room, and enjoyed interaction time with baby. All done while enjoying a coffee on the hotel balcony, taking in the new surroundings.
Out of the hotel and ready to explore an attraction we would chose either a road trip somewhere, a morning beach swim, or perhaps a hike. Using the front pack we faced baby outward to explore, and then faced her inward when it was nap time. For her morning nap we would be out exploring, so sleeping in the car or front pack worked well and allowed us to explore right up until lunchtime.
On holiday, baby had two smaller naps (morning and lunch) and then a longer one in the afternoon. Perfect as by the time her long sleep came around we were beat and ready to put our feet up. We generally did this back in the room so baby could have a quality sleep in her cot which we enjoyed a cocktail on the balcony, and relaxed. Once she woke we lay her out on a mat on the balcony to play with her toys, practice tummy time and generally be a baby of freedom.
After her afternoon nap we would pack all her evening paraphernalia into a bag and take her out in the buggy. Perfect timing for an evening walk or watching the sunset. Once 6pm rolled around we would begin he evening routine while out, and have her sleep in the buggy, then head out for dinner. After dinner, and a nice time together, it’s time to head back to the hotel, coinciding babies dream feed time with converting her to her cot for the rest of the night.
Words by: chasingdreamstravel.co.nz