Last September, Mike and I were able to go on a short family vacation. This time, we brought Ellie with us. (Yey!:) It was our first time to travel with her. It was more of a personal decision not to take Ellie with us until she was much older because first, we wanted to be sure that health-wise, it is a lot safer for an infant to be exposed to a new environment, and next, we felt that she would enjoy it more if she was at the stage when she’s already walking (in other words, an active explorer!).
It was one of the most memorable vacations I had in my life. Primarily because it was a very different experience compared to just traveling with your husband. Unforgettable because of all the challenges and the fun moments of bringing an infant along with you in an unfamiliar territory. .
As a mom, I had to deal with varying emotions- both excitement and anxiety. I was excited to witness Ellie explore the beach, spend time with other children and just enjoy. On the other hand, I was also worried if she’ll be able to sleep well at night and hoping that she’ll not get sick at all. As a teacher, I was telling myself that it’s similar to taking my students out on a field trip, wherein my things to do (before, during and after the trip) are already organized.
If you are planning to travel with your infant, here are some tips that I want to share with you: (that I learned from this vacation)
1. Consider your child when you plan your vacation. This means that from scheduling your flight (from departure to arrival) to choosing your accommodation and activities, you should make it child-centered as possible. How?
- Book your flight at the best time wherein you don’t have to disrupt your child’s sleeping schedule. In this trip, our departure from Manila was at 8 am, while our departure from Cebu (Cebu-Manila) was at 5:30 pm. It didn’t give us any difficulty at all because we worked around her usual routine. This was why she was settled all throughout the flight because she was able to have her usual sleep, snack and rest time.
- Look for an accommodation that is child-friendly. We stayed in a resort that provided amenities/facilities for children. Aside from the kiddie pool and beach, the resort had a play area for children and daily activities for them, as well. Ellie enjoyed this a lot. When she was done swimming, we brought her to the play area and let her join the different activities.
- Make sure your hotel accommodations should be safe and clean. We were very happy with our room because it was not just clean, but we were confident that Ellie is safe when she walks around. There were provisions for space and no slippery floors. When we requested for a crib, we were given a nice and clean one.
2. Seek health clearance for your baby before traveling. I consulted with our pediatrician, Dr. Dolli before we left for Cebu. I brought Ellie for a checkup and asked her the do’s and dont’s when traveling. She prescribed medications for Ellie in case she gets sick during the trip. I brought along our nebulizer (since Ellie is predisposed to allergy) because the hotel might not provide one. The usual medicines we brought were for diarrhea, allergy and fever.
3. Pack wisely. List down all the things you need to pack so that you’ll not forget anything.
Here are the basic things inside Ellie’s luggage:
- 2-3 sets of clothes (day time, sleepwear, extra clothes)
- sterilizer (not all hotels have this)
- jacket (the temperature in the airplane and airport can get very cold most of the time)
- hat and shades
- toiletries (for bathing), cologne, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste
- laundry detergent (in case, we need to wash Ellie’s clothes)
- milk bottles (4 pcs)
- anti-mosquito lotion
- ointment for: diaper rash, wounds, mosquito bites
- milk bottle cleanser and brush
- wash cloth, lampin, towels
- comfortable shoes
- baby food (since Ellie is already allowed to eat solid foods, we only brought a few of these baby food (cerelac, ready-to-eat organic baby food), in case we gets hungry while we were on the road)
- diaper and cloth diaper
- distilled water (I brought with me 2 bottles since I can always find a convenience store near the hotel where I can replenish my stash)
4. Bring play materials. Bear in mind that your child might not fall asleep during the flight so you might want to think about possible activities that you can provide him/her. For young children, it is a challenge to keep them on their seats for a long time so I suggest that you bring some of your child’s favorite play materials, toys, and books to keep him/her preoccupied.
Before we boarded the plane, I placed some of Ellie’s favorite books and toys inside a canvass bag, that I can hold unto while we are seated on the plane. I also put inside her snack, milk bottle and water. As expected, she was awake during our take-off, and after she got tired from looking out the window, she started playing with the toys that I brought for her. This kept her busy for awhile and afterwards, she fell asleep. 🙂
Add some play materials that you can let your child play with while swimming and exploring the beach. I brought with me a few sand toys and plastic animal toys. Ellie enjoyed exploring them while she was outdoors.
5. Bring your camera and take lots of pictures. It’s always good to document your first travel experience and of course, your succeeding trips. I’ve learned that it doesn’t end in just taking pictures, because it’s also a great practice to have them printed out and placed in an album. This way, you can always look at these pictures with your child, and discuss your wonderful experience during the trip. You can also make a family vacation book with your child using these pictures. 🙂
This family vacation made me realize one thing: Ellie was such a great travel companion. It was good opportunity to educate her by letting her experience first-hand the many things she just gets to see from her books or she just gets to hear from us.
I am extremely excited and looking forward to exploring the world not just with my constant travel companion, Mike, but with our newly-recruited travel buddy, Ellie. 🙂
Have a great vacation, everyone!