I hope the past few posts have conveyed that traveling with a baby, with a few adjustments, is really more of a joy than a worry. But despite all my own adjustments, there is one thing that that continues to stress me out when it comes to being on the move with baby and that’s feeding.
Every parent has their own big “thing”, their own trigger that makes them instantly uncomfortable. Mine is the fear of running out of enough food. I’m not sure when it started, but I think my experience with traveling with expressed milk at Heathrow airport had a lot to do with it. Because of a number of circumstances, I had to express all of the feedings for my first child, and she had a voracious appetite. There always seemed to be more room for milk in that little (big?) tummy of hers no matter how much I pumped. We lived “bottle to bottle” much of the time so to speak, so there was never a lot of extra. When we traveled, there was the usual stress of worrying if we would have enough, with the additional twist of estimating when and where I’d be able to pump next, whether we would have access to cold storage reliably, and what we’d do if we ran out.
We finally did one day. Run out, I mean. It was a work trip, and it was in New York City and she was just about 8 months old. There just wasn’t enough milk, so we had to bite the bullet and supplement with formula. For some reason, it felt like a failure in my eyes – at the time. I doubted coming on the trip, even though professionally, I couldn’t have really said no. I cried and cried, thinking I should have planned the trip better, that I somehow could have changed things if I had just tried differently or found a faster cab or cut my client meetings short… Even though we made it my work trip as short as possible, and as my husband had the luxury of a bit of time off to come with me to take care of our daughter to keep her “close the milk” so to speak, I let myself feel bad about that. I blamed myself for falling short, even though realistically, we most likely would have had the exact same problem at home as we did while we were away.
And in the end? It turned out okay… Just as any mom with a bit of experience will assure you that it does, somehow, nearly every time. Instead of all that worrying, I should have felt proud that we did everything that we could, and when we couldn’t do more, I should have felt proud that as a mom juggling work and travel and clients and my family, we found a solution that didn’t involve my daughter going hungry. I should have been immediately grateful, as I learned to be from then on, that we had options for feeding our baby. We had to supplement with formula from then on anyway, and if anything, the whole experience gave us a bit of peace of mind in the long run. We learned multiple solutions are possible, and that’s a good thing. That experience taught us to have a back up plan for the things that stress you the most, since you just might have to use it. Learning how to adjust on the spot ended up throwing the doors to travel open even wider for us.
Now with our second child, I have a bit more of a routine under my belt. We had more milk storage with my son earlier on, so there were more back-up options to choose from. But I always travel with spare everything for the pump, with extra small coolers, we call to make sure there is a refrigerator in advance a the hotel. And also, I pack an extra container or two of formula just in case…Knowing that I’m as covered as I can be in this department makes a better parent and traveling partner across the board for all of my family on the trip. There can be a million reasons not to open that door and go explore the world (or your backyard) with your baby, but knowing what worries you most and managing to that, can help you take the first step. It really does turn out okay.
What do your fear most when traveling with your little ones?
Parts of the Traveling with a Baby series first appeared on Valentina Fussel’s Traveling Mama (who is now over at the very fab House of Valentina), but I wanted to share our few tips and tricks in the full set of posts here on the blog. This isn’t so much about the gear because the truth is, you don’t need much of it (although a few things can definitely be helpful!). It’s not about traveling with kids in general (although happy to talk about that too separately). This is a little more on on how to get started on traveling with a baby from a personal perspective, what to look out for, and above all, how to enjoy this new lens on seeing the world around you, both near and far! We keep our littles on the road a fair amount but we also like to keep things fun. And we’re always looking to learn from other parents so please feel free to share your travel tips and adventures below here too!
PS – Photo above from the deck of our favorite hotel in Venice, Italy, where we bundled up our little one for the carnival a couple of months after she was born. Milk with milk for her, coffee with milk for me!