How to pack and actually play
If you're like me, packing is the most daunting thing ever. Even before becoming a mom, I waited until the last minute because I knew starting too early would result in me putting way too much into the suitcase. So I always waited til the night before and tried to pack what I'd actually wear (didn't ever work, I still always overpacked) and always spent the night before traveling basically pulling an all nighter. So translate this habit to packing for myself AND a baby and it seemed impossible. I literally couldn't imagine doing it. When anyone would ask about my sisters wedding in Florida or the month long break I was taking with Tess after it, I couldn't talk about without feeling major anxiety about packing. I remember thinking the way I thought about childbirth "ok, a million women do it, so you can to." Comparing packing/traveling to childbirth seems ridiculous now that I've packed and traveled so much in the past month. So I wanted to share this post for all the moms who felt or feel similar to me and want an easy guide on what to pack and how to do so. I didn't put the amounts of each item to bring because it depends on how long you are going for, if you have laundry access, etc.
Some quick words about traveling before I get into the packing list. Get to the airport early and check in curb side. Check your car seat at the curb and use the stroller as an extra vessel to bring stuff (you still get one carry on and one personal item PLUS the stroller!!!) However, make sure whatever you store in the stroller can be easily taken out when you have to fold it up for security and for when you gate check. I put extra things in the stroller when I checked it at the gate but I couldn't have a bunch of things loosely stored under it because then it would be impossible to fold up, so something easy to take in and out of the stroller, but definitely utilize the fact that the stroller can serve as an extra item. Call the hotel and make sure to reserve a crib or if you're bringing a travel crib, I'd recommend the Nuna Sena Aire. Lastly, if you're breastfeeding/pumping, make sure to stay on a schedule to avoid clogged milk ducts/mastitis. Keep in mind your baby will probably be more distracted, so you may need to get creative with where you nurse (like me, the only place she would latch was in the shade by a kiddie pool!)
K, now for packing. Pack for your baby first. Its much harder, much more time consuming and requires so much more than for yourself. If giving birth didn't already teach you that you now come second (you know what I mean), packing will. It's also refreshing to not fixate on what you're packing for yourself because by the time you get to packing for you, you're too exhausted and sick of packing to care!
1. Besides clothing, don't forget to pack any accessories
- Hats (sun hats or cold weather hats and anytime hats) I use Monica & Andy cotton hats for after the bath when her hair is wet.
- Shoes (cause why not?)
- Sunglasses (also why not?)
- Bows/hair accessories (favorite brands of bows are spearmint and baby bling)
2. Blankets and bedding.
- Sleep sack, or whatever they're used to sleeping in.
- A "lovey" if your baby has one. We have this one (from an amazing baby store!)
- Fitted crib sheet (most hotels provide a crib and crib sheet, but a crib sheet doesn't take up space in your suitcase, so why not bring your own).
- Blankets (Tess is obsessed with blankets so I go overboard and pack a bunch). You'll want a thicker one for the airplane which is always freezing, muslin blankets/swaddles are the BEST for warm weather locations they can be used as stroller covers (when you want your baby to nap in the stroller on the go and to block out the sun), I use them to line the stroller seat when it may be a sweaty day and they can even be used as beach towels. Also love this Kissy Kissy one which is small and soooo soft.
4. Stroller. I use the Doona to travel but for this long trip I also brought my Uppa Baby Vista since I knew she'd be sending a lot of time in her stroller, the Doona is really small and not as comfortable. Also purchase the gate check bags - because even though you can check a stroller and car seat entirely for free but they don't guarantee they take good care of them. Having a cover just helps minimize scratches etc. I checked the car seat at the ticket counter and then brought the stroller through security - if you don't want to bring your stroller through, use a baby carrier which is easy and also frees up both your arms.
5. 3-4 bottles (I got this Dr. Browns kit which has everything in it, a few bottles, sterilizer bag, bottle wipes, bottle brush) if your baby is under 6 months and you're still sterilizing, bring these sterilizer bags (hotels can provide a microwave - Dr. Browns bags are the biggest, but Medela bags seal better) baby ganics travel size bottle soap also great if you need to wash a bottle on-the-go so that the milk doesn't just sit there. Also, a bottle brush and travel drying rack.
6. Pacifiers and pacifier wipes.
7. Gripe water, baby Tylenol and thermometer.
8. Play mat - I suggest this one, it takes up space but is foldable and light weight. Or you can use a blanket to set up a play space wherever you are.
9. I bring a bandana as a play object and some of these toys to travel with, make sure you have some stroller toys if your baby is going to be spending a lot of time on the go.
10. Diapers, sleep diapers, and baby wipes.
11. Diaper cream, aquaphor, baby shampoo and soap. (I transfer the soap into small travel bottles)
12. Washcloths, bibs and burp cloths.
13. I wore this sweater on the airplane and made sure to nurse Tess at take off and landing because the sucking and swallowing during nursing helps prevent ear discomfort. If you're not breastfeeding, try to feed a bottle. Also don't forget your breast pump and parts!
This list seems extensive, but remember it depends on where you're going and for how long. If you're going somewhere within the country for more than a few days, I suggest shipping things there and placing an amazon order ahead of time. This packing list is also for exactly where I'm at, which is a bit of an over prepared, first time mom, of a 3.5 month old. I'm sure I'll revisit this list for my second baby, be like "who was I?!" and cut it in half. At first, I truly felt like I needed every thing on this list but as the trip went on I definitely thought to myself "Do I really need to keep sterilizing bottles?!" Also, I may or may not have traveled with my nest camera (which, admittedly, I never even used).