We did it, and you can too! We took our 7-month-old baby boy to Greece. It was hot and sticky and we had to make frequent "shade stops," but it was so worth it for a week of uninterrupted family time. Here are the tips and tricks we learned along the way.
- Pack Light. You don't need it! We brought nothing--well, almost nothing--we took an umbrella stroller and we never used it once. The BabyBjorn was our best friend. On the subject of baby carriers, we have also used the Boba Wrap, which was amazing, but we moved to the BabyBjorn at about 5 months. I think by the next trip we will upgrade to the Ergo 360, as it offers extra back support for our growing nugget.
- It's okay to bring the breast milk. Or regular milk, or formula. I put it in the tray, outside the bags, but there are times that I have forgotten. If they say anything, TSA will do a quick test on the bottle.
- Don't forget bath toys. If you're going to be gone for a while, baths are a necessary evil, so be prepared. They also have fold-up bath tubs for travel.
- Bring a floating pool toy. Having one was a life-saver and made playing in the pool for hours so much more feasible and fun.
- It's okay if you run our of diapers, they will sell them. In fact, in Greece, the tiny convenience store closest to our hotel had our exact brand of diapers, and we actually did end up buying more. Same goes for clothes or wipes or anything you may need.
FOR THE FLIGHT
- Wear your baby through security. They will send you through the metal detector instead of the body scanner, and they will test your hands.
- We found that booking an overnight flight was the way to go. That way, baby is ready after the flight takes off.
- Request a bassinet. The bassinet is a little basket that attaches to the wall, with mesh sides and a top that flips up and down. Every airline handles this request differently. Some airlines will upgrade you to the bulkhead row straight away, others you have to pay to upgrade any travel companions. Some will note the request, but on the day of the flight, it's first come, first served. They will let you know when you call to request. I think the bassinet holds babies up to 25 lbs. And on our flight home, even though Oliver didn't sleep more than 30 minutes, we were able to put him in the bassinet so we didn't have to hold him the entire flight.
- Bring a blanket so he or she can crawl around on the floor at the airport and during layovers.
- Be sure your hotel allows kids. I never really knew there were hotels that don't allow kids, but I booked our hotel for Santorini and later found out that they don't allow kids. I stressfully rebooked us.
- If possible, find a hotel near the main attractions. You'll want to be near the action, so you can swing back to the hotel for naps.
- Find a hotel with a pool, indoor or outdoor. We used the pool as big source of entertainment. Because our new hotel in Santorini was not in the center of town, we were not able to pop back for naps. So, we either hung out by the pool in the morning, then napped, and headed out for the day, or we went out after breakfast and came back in the afternoon for a nap and a swim.
- It's very helpful to have a fridge for pumped milk, bottles, leftover, etc. If it's not standard, often you can request one "for medical reasons."
- Call ahead to request a crib, they will usually give you a Pack'n'play type thing, but pack sheets just in case. For this reason alone, I would choose a traditional hotel over AirB'n'B, even though there are many other convinces to having a home, for example a place to wash your bottles, that is not the same place you brush your teeth.
- For our trip to Greece, Oliver was part breast feeding, part supplementing with formula, and just starting to eat solids. When we left for the day we brought two bottles. I would breast feed a little, and he would have bites of whatever we were eating, and it worked out great.
- In Europe it seemed like so much less of a thing to breast feed in public.
- Speaking of breast feeding in public, you'll want to figure out a breast-feeding friendly wardrobe. Unfortunately maxi dresses were out of the question, save for a quick dinner.
PLANNING YOUR DAY
- Oliver was a trooper and did a lot of napping on the go. We are lucky in that he will sleep in the carrier, but the stroller is a great place to nap, then you can wheel your babe right into the restaurant for romantic mom and dad dinner.
- A backpack diaper bag is a life- and back-saver. I just used a nice large, leather backpack, it doesn't have to be labeled a diaper bag to carry diapers.
- Breaking up the day is a good idea. It's pretty hard with a baby to sightsee or shop or museum hop all day long.
- Bring lots of sunscreen
- Be flexible, your day will rarely go as you planned
- Be present. That's the point of vacation, it's to get away and reconnect with your loved ones, be sure you actually do that.
- Relax and have fun. No matter what problem you face, you'll look back on those days with fond memories.
- Don't place unreasonable expectations for yourself or for your baby.
- Babies make people happy. Don't be afraid to ask for help or special attention. Most people want you to enjoy your time.