I wasn’t originally planning my first holiday to be a solo one. The decision to travel alone came from my partner’s and my inability to agree on what to do over my 2 week break from school. Of course, my partner wanted to go on a bike tour. But I had something else in mind: a warm ocean, moist air, tropical fruit, and lots of sun. At first I thought Maui, but after finding an extremely cheap ticket to Puerto Rico ($280 RT with Southwest Airlines) I was sold. Turns out Puerto Rico isn’t very bike friendly, so I decided to go alone with the baby to fulfill my tropical dream.
I was most nervous about long flights, and we had two 4 hour legs to deal with. I kept thinking how horrible it would be to be stuck on a 4 hour flight with a screaming baby, and being limited as to how to respond: sit or sit. Lucky for me, my mom decided to join us for the first half of the trip so I did have some help on the way there.
Sage turned out to be a great traveler. He never did the screaming baby bit on the plane, and for the most part was a happy camper getting there and back. While we were in Puerto Rico, he had more of a challenging time because he wasn’t accustomed to the heat and high humidity – we were leaving a cold and dry Santa Fe. Probably for this reason, we ended up spending a lot of time in the shade.
I was lucky enough to find extremely affordable accommodation on AirBnb (a studio 5 minutes from the beach for $45/night). That way I was able to keep Sage on his nap schedule, more or less, prepare some meals for myself, and do laundry when needed. For the most part, we just went to the beach and napped indoors during the hottest part of the day. I rented a car for the 10 days and took his carseat. I have to admit that all the driving while I was there did have me appreciating bike travel.
Although traveling by yourself with a 6 month old isn’t the easiest thing, I think it was a great experience. Not only did I get that dose of tropical heat I was craving, but I also came back feeling very empowered.
I wanted to put out a list of helpful hints because when I was prepping to leave, I searched online to see what other mothers where saying.
Picking where to go: In hindsight, I think Sage was a little too young for a beach holiday because he wasn’t quite sitting up by himself and couldn’t fully appreaciate the sand/ocean. (acutally he hated the sand). So if you decide to do a beach holiday, be prepared to spend some time in the shade, indoors, or having someone else watching the baby.
– Pack light (take about 6 outfits for the baby) I took far to many clothes and only took one backpack for Sage and I. Remember you can always wash things
– Sleep sack or swaddling blanket
-Travel bed ( I opted for Kushies travel bed because it was light, could fit in a suitcase or be a carry on item, and was UV proof for the beach
-Bottles/formula or BF cover & lactation tea if your breastfeeding
-Diapers…I bought disposables there but wished I had taken my cloth ones because I had access to a W/D the entire time and we had 10 blowouts!
-Suncream…it’s difficult to get natural suncream when traveling
-Things that are used in your baby’s sleep ritual…I took his monkey lovey, paci, and bedtime book
-A blanket for laying/playing on
-If you use a pacifier, I bought a paci bungee and think it is awesome! No more picking up a dirty paci
-Teething toy and a rattle
– Baby carrier…I love Boba air! It’s super light, compact and great for humid weather!
-Car seat (if renting car); bike and trailer if your going carless
-Try to fit everything into one bag. Even if you aren’t traveling alone, the less you have to carry, the better. One carry on and baby/carrier and one checked item. That way you can manage everything.
-Don’t forget baby’s birth certificate – or passport if flying internationally
-Hylands Baby Teething Tablets, Hylands Colic tablets, and belladona (if baby gets fever)
-Remember that everything takes longer with a baby. Give yourself an extra 30 min for getting to the airport/flight.
-If you are gate checking a carseat, I suggest buying one of those bags they sell with the nylon handles. I bought a large sleeping bag stuff sack at REI for just $10, which did the trick for protecting, but made it really difficult to carry.
-I have Sage on a feeding and napping schedule and tried to keep him on the feeding schedule but then let him nap whenever he wanted. This seemed to work really well for us. I ended up nursing him on some of the take offs and landings and had him suck on his paci for the others. If your baby doesn’t take a paci, then I suggest nursing/bottle feeding for take offs and landings to help protect those little ears.
-If your flight isn’t full, try to move to a seat where you can have the entire aisle. That way your baby can lay down and stretch out a bit. That also gives you a bit of a break. If your flight is full (which one of mine was 😦 ), then just be prepared to do some adjusting and possibly getting up mid flight and walking the aisles a bit.
-If traveling solo, don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendant to hold your baby while you use the bathroom. That is far easier than trying to use the bathroom in the airport with your carry ons and holding/wearing a baby
-If you have connecting flights and/or while waiting for your flight, lay out a blanket and let your baby stretch out and play. I found this to keep Sage more content on the flight and more willing to sleep while in the air.
-Change diaper right before getting on the flight. I changed a diaper in the airplane’s bathroom and although they have a changing table, it was very awkward.
-Take snacks for yourself. Buying stuff in the airport with the baby is a pain.
-Make sure you have a change of clothes in your carry on. We had a blowout shortly after arriving in Puerto Rico.
-If you have a feeling that your baby will be that baby screaming on the airplane, take a couple sets of cheap earplugs to give to people sitting next to you. I did get one dirty look from a guy because Sage was making some noise with the tambourine rattle, but it didn’t bother me.
Other Helpful Tips
-Once you’re at your final destination, the following day try to get your baby onto the local time. He/she will adjust much quicker than you.
-Try to have at least one nap not on the move. This will avoid having a super cranky overtired baby. Naps on the go are not as restful as naps in a bed/crib.
-If you go somewhere tropical, allow for some naked time everyday for baby so that he/she can air out.
-Be prepared for your baby to be doted on constantly by strangers…especially if you go to Puerto Rico
-If your baby is on a schedule and things don’t go as planned, take a deep breath and remember that it’s ok and everything will return back to normal when you are back at home.
If you have any useful tips you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them.