Let me start by saying traveling for vacation with a 10 months old is CHALLENGING and DEMANDING! Although I chose the easiest vacation place to travel with a baby, it’s still not easy. BUT it’s a lot of fun! Many times mom and I would look at Sofia and say to each other:” remember we went to Florida and Australia two years ago? They were nice but traveling with Sofia is so much more fun!”
- Flying: both of our flights were +9 hrs long. On our way to Hawaii our flight departed at 1pm. Sofia took 2 naps of 45-60 min in my arms. The rest of the time she giggled between mom and me. I took +10 small toys (band-it, plastic cups count as toys too!) and would take out one each time to entertain her. They worked but only for 5 min each time. It’s very tiring to hold a baby that moves all the time but between mom and I we managed. Diaper change was not an issue, I did it in the toilet in the changing table with a disposable changing pad underneath, a small toy in Sofia’s hand so she wouldn’t touch anything else. Eating: she mainly nursed with me with few bites of baby snacks. I nursed her during take off to avoid ear discomfort, but on our flight to Maui she didn’t nurse and seemed fine too. Our way back coincided with night sleep so Sofia slept the whole time. In that case, it would be nice if she had her own seat so I wouldn’t have to squeeze myself to give her room.
- Packing: traveling with a baby involves so much more things to bring on. We rented the crib, travelbabees in Oahu and Maui Baby Rental in Maui. They both installed the crib before our arrival. We brought the car seat and the stroller (checked the car seat for free and gate checked the stroller in these bags), this portable table chair (we only used it at the condo and used high chair at the restaurants), inflatable bath tub (didn’t use it. We bathed her in the sink or I’d shower with her), Baby float sun canopy, feeding essentials, pump and bottles (didn’t use them), just enough diapers and wipes for the flight and bought more there. All in all, for three of us, we checked one bag, two carry-on suitcases and two handbags. It was challenging to get moving everything in the airport before getting to the car (5 bags, car seat, stroller and the baby) but it’s manageable.
- Eating: I mentioned in the 9 months update that Sofia was not interested in nursing other than morning and night sessions, and that I had to pump during the day even if I am staying home. Fortunately that changed dramatically during this trip. She had no problem nursing, would not refuse any time, and nursed every 2-3 hrs. Nursing was her main food source. Since we were on the go most of the days, we didn’t follow the 2 solid meals a day rule that we were doing at home. We’d give her whatever we eat. Sometimes she’d take it (especially if it’s noodles), other times she was not interested. She eats very well table food. She had udon, ramen, spaguetti, teriyaki chicken, roasted eggplant, tofu burger, kabocha, green beans, aduki paste, rice, ritz crackers, bread, sausage. It amazes us how well she manages to eat all them.
- Sleeping: she didn’t have much jet lag when we arrived. She’d go to sleep around 8pm every night and would wake up around 6-7 (sometimes 5). The problem was she’d wake up couple of times at night. Since she was sleeping in my room, in order for both of us to go back to sleep, I’d nurse her. I think she needed nursing at the night because she needed comfort and assurance that I was with her in this new environment. It didn’t bother me because I was always able to get back to sleep right away. In term of naps, she did great. She’d take 2-3 naps a day of 45-60 min each. If we’re out she’d nap in the carrier.
- Surprises: the most surprising thing that happened was she started to hate being in the car seat and stroller. Every time we put her there, she’d scream and cry as we were murdering her. It was kind of embarrassing so we had to pick her up. We don’t know what caused that. Fortunately I had back up solution: I rented a carrier for this trip. ($25 for a month from Carry Me) I consulted with Jasmine, the owner, about what type of carrier is suitable for me and Sofia, and she recommended Pikkolo. It was my first time using a soft structured carrier and we both love it! Sofia seemed very comfortable in it because it’s designed to carry the baby in their natural way of sitting. She was so comfortable that almost every time I carry her, she’d fall into sleep. I had some lower back pain at first because I positioned the waist band too low, but once adjusted, it was comfortable for me as well. But, no matter how comfortable it is, after an hour, the weight starts to feel. For the car ride, there was not much we could do. We simply tried to make the ride as short as possible. For long drive, we’d make several stops on the way.
- Relax time: if you consider lying on the beach for hours soaking up the sun is relax time, then don’t go there with a baby because you won’t have a minute of that. A 10-months old is so curious and active that she wouldn’t stop for a second from “committing a crime” such as picking up stones and sands and put them in her mouth. The times mom and I did a picnic at the beach, we had to alternate to eat our sandwich because Sofia wouldn’t sit still for a second. Although we could still enjoy the beaches and the view, it definitely takes more effort having a baby.
- Adapt the plan: we didn’t have a particular plan to follow but we did have a list of things to do and see. We managed to do them all, so bringing Sofia didn’t make us to do/see less. The key was to do them according to Sofia’s nap schedule. Except for 2 days, we always go back to the condo to take the afternoon nap so we all get some rest during the day. Morning nap is usually taken in the carrier. This worked well for both Sofia and my mom so they don’t get overtired by the end of the day. It’s vacation so it shouldn’t stress anyone.
- It’s a vacation for adults. I don’t buy the argument that taking babies to travel is for their sake. They’re just too small to take advantage of it. Sure, they’d have fun seeing new things, but they’d be as happy as if they were at home with new toys. Let’s be realistic, we travel with babies because we want to travel and babies just come along. Once we accept this idea, then we are more accommodative to the baby’s need since they’re actually “doing us a favor” by coming along. We need to make them as comfortable and less disruptive as possible because they didn’t choose to travel.
I hope I didn’t discourage anyone from taking babies to travel. I just wanted to lay out the challenges and few tips if you decide to do so. It takes extra planning but it’s definitely doable. 🙂