Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When should you leave it home? Ways to travel without packing the nursery!

I still remember my very first trip with my daughter. We took a weekend to Seaside, Oregon and I recall taking a picture of the back of our huge suburban just Packed full of stuff.  It seemed I had taken her entire nursery along for the ride!  Another child and many trips later I have learned that there are many items you don't need to pack when traveling with young children and there are ways to minimize your luggage. 
What you choose to pack truly depends on where your going, where your staying and for how long.  But for many trips there are several items you can most likely leave at home that will save you a lot of stressful moments of lugging them around. 

Item: Crib/Playpen
When should you leave it home?  If your staying in a nice hotel, condo or cruise ship you can leave this huge item at home.  Most hotels and cruise ships will provide you with a crib in your room/cabin and for the most part you will find this as a courtesy.  Some hotels do charge per night as I have found with my last couple of trips, but well worth not having to carry around a huge pack n' play.  If your cruising, be sure to request a crib as soon as you book, ships are limited to the number of cribs they can bring aboard and if you wait too long you'll be forced to pack your own and believe me it doesn't work so well if your in a standard sized cabin!

Item: Diapers
When should you leave it home? Never leave home without diapers, but DO limit the amount you pack away.  If you happen to be traveling to "no mans land" where there are no Targets or grocery stores around, then definitely fill up the suitcase.  But I have found that diapers can truly take up a ton of packing space and they are an item you can typically find at any travel destination.  If your cruising, definitely pack what you can, they have some for purchase on board, but it's limited an expensive and if your destinations are tropical your less likely to find a Costco on the beach. (see formula below for one cool trick on diapers if your staying with or near friends)

Item: Stroller
When should you leave it home?  It's rare when the trip comes that you can leave the stroller home, but if you have a double stroller or bulky stroller, don't bring it on a cruise ship.  We brought one on our cruise and it literally didn't fit through the cabin door, we had to fold it and try to find storage, which was limited.  Bring an umbrella type stroller if you must or a baby carrier if you can.  I have found that on most trips the stroller is both a necessity and a pain in the "you know what" at the same time.  Another option if your vacationing on land, call your hotel and see if they provide strollers to guests.  Some do loan them out or know where you can rent one during your stay. 

Item: Formula
When should you leave it home?  Again like diapers, never leave home without formula or food for your child, but I had a plan that worked GREAT when traveling to visit family out of state.  My son was on a very expensive and specific formula.  I had our trip planned and rather than trying to pack huge, heavy bottles of formula through the airline, I went to diapers.com and placed an order just a couple days before our trip and with free shipping our box of formula and diapers arrived at Grandma's house in time for our stay.  I had observed how much he used the week prior to our trip before I ordered and only had to pack a bottle or two home.

Item: Jars of baby food
When should you leave it home? Pack it if you must, but yet another item you can usually get anywhere you travel.  Another fun fact many people don't know, cruise ships will provide you with jars of baby food during your trip.  Contact the cruise line and they will send over a "order form" so that they can provide you with the flavors, sizes and amounts you need during your trip. And yes it's FREE!  They even give you boxes of baby cereal.

Item: Car Seat
When should you leave it home?  For some this is the only safe way to travel with their children and they must carry their own seat everywhere.  I personally don't mind renting a car seat at my destination. I have yet to receive a seat I consider unsafe for my children and would never take one I thought was anything less.  I have seen people lugging huge car seats around the airport and let me just say it stresses me out just looking at them.  Baby in one arm, diaper bag, stroller, car seat, snacks and everything else all in tow for the flight.  Some people prefer to pay for a seat and strap their babies in during a flight, but seriously, unless you have a Super Baby I highly doubt they will stay in that seat for more than a half hour and God forbid something does happen to the plane, I'd rather have my baby in my arms to access quickly in an emergency landing.  But that's just me!  If your planning to bring your own car seat, DO NOT check it in with your luggage, your seat could be damaged (we know how gentle they are with bags) and in worst case your precious car seat could be lost.

Many first time travelers with babies are unaware of many items they can rent or find during their vacations.  If your planning an extended stay somewhere, do some quick research to see if rentals are available, they are typically worth it for a week or more.  Or if your headed for a family visit, ask your family & friends if they have items for you to borrow during your stay.  Our neighbors had their family visiting for a week with a baby and we were happy to loan them our stroller for their stay. ShareThis

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