We asked you all what you wanted to know about our trip to France & quite honestly, your questions surprised us! Y’all are just the best! To answer all your fabulous questions, we have broken our blog into two parts. First, the nuts & bolts of traveling as a family; specifically with a 6 month old baby. Second, all of our marvelous adventures!
"How Did This All Come About? Y'all Seemed To Pack & Go Really Fast!"
It was rather last minute when Ryland called, "Hey dear! I just got called to France for a week for a project I am working on. What do you think about coming along?"
Honestly? I love traveling but HATE flying, packing, jet lag, the endless questions of "Will the hotel have this? How will Kerr sleep? How will this all work out?"
I remember feeling this way before we left for Boston - a two hour plane ride away with some of our best friends. Thinking on that made me realize, these fears will always creep in - no matter the circumstance. If I don't go, I will regret it for the rest of my life. Time spent away with our baby while Ryland works? Endless walks in the town square, macaroons, coffees, gardens... Is it all worth the jet lag, the possible melt down of a 6 month old at 2:00 am?
Yes! It will definitely be worth it! I've got to try this! For those of you who know me - that's saying something!
We packed our bags quite light. I wanted to try this minimalist thing - 4 outfits! We can do laundry - oh & I will need to do a bit of shopping while we are there too - so let's make it 3 outfits so we have even more room! :)
Don't get me wrong, the trip over & back was HARD. We didn't sleep a wink - not even for 1 minute. Kerr couldn't settle & once we landed in Paris, his eyes were bloodshot & he had huge bags under his eyes. I cried out of sadness for my baby. Have we made the right choice? We still have several hours of travel left - have we ruined him?
He only truly lost it once - blood curdling screams in the 3rd airplane - those poor passengers! The flight was 30 minutes & he howled the whole time. Poor baby - it was 4 am EST time when we landed. He was DONE.
We got our rental car, drove to our hotel & quickly realized, there is no bassinet. "Here is a random blanket basket!" Ryland said as he looked under the bed. Let's drape a blanket over it & stack pillows around it. He can't crawl so this will keep him contained. We shut the drapes, fed him again (for the 800th time in 36 hours - my body ached) & closed the door. Out like a light!
3 hours later, we had to wake our baby so he could go to sleep that night at his "normal" bedtime.
He quickly fell into his normal sleep pattern (the LARGEST praise because you can do anything if you have 8 hours of sleep each night) & slept like a champ the ENTIRE time we were in France!
Traveling As A Family
What did you take for Kerr? We want to travel as a family overseas but are overwhelmed by the amount of things to take!
We knew this question would come up so we took extensive notes on what we packed:
- Liquid Benadryl: Just a tiny bit for an infant will help them sleep. To see the exact amount you give your babies, click here!
- 4 Baby Outfits: We wanted to buy a few outfits for Kerr so we just took the basics
- 2 PJ's: Kerr usually wears his 2 nights in a row & then we can throw one in the wash with our other things.
- Sleep Sack: Kerr is still in this one at 6 months.
- Sound Machine: this is our favorite sound machine in the whole world. We bought 2 others before finding this one. USB chargeable, small & portable!
- 2 Burp Cloths: because, spit up - duh!
- 2 Muslin Blankets: one for the plane, snuggling, nursing & one to put on the floor for tummy time during layovers
- 2 Pacfiers: because you will loose one & need a back up!
- 2 Days Worth of Diapers & 1 Pack of Wipes: a huge trick we have learned - buy diapers at your destination & then use the leftovers for your return trip.
- Dry Rice to Make Your Own Cereal: Blend your own rice & make your cereal at the apartment. We use this recipe every day!
- Car Seat, Base, Stroller: basic necessities for any trip! And most airlines do not count these items against your normal baggage allowance. They'll gate check them for FREE!
- Sling or Carrier: for keeping your baby close & walking around town. We LOVE our WildBird sling!
- 3-4 Soft Toys: Take ones that you don't mind loosing or that can be washed. These things will get dropped & carted all over the place!
- 2 Bottles, 1 Nipple: Don't take your whole set. You can wash them!
- Travel Packets of Formula: LOVE these in a pinch. We nurse Kerr, but after a long day of flying & travel, any mamma needs a break. These came in handy a few different times!
- Travel Packets of Probiotic: remember, if you are nursing your diet will be a bit different & can affect your baby. Our pediatrician told us about these packets long ago & Kerr has a half packet every other day or so.
We also highly recommend staying in an apartment/suite so that you can do laundry, a bit of cooking, & have separate rooms for you & your kids. Sleeping makes all the difference in the world. Our apartment had a pull out couch in this room & a bed in the other!
*Just a few other tips:
- We use these packing cubes to keep all our stuff from sliding around in our bags & separate from Kerr's. That way if we need to pack up for the day, we can take one "cube" with us. This keeps all our stuff neat & helps us stay organized!
- When you rent a car, be sure to rent mid-sized one, not economy. European cars are MUCH smaller than ours so even a mid-size may feel small! You need your luggage & car seat to fit! Also, all of the cars are in MANUAL. :) May want to refresh your stick shift skills before jetting out!
- *** If you are traveling with an infant that is less than 22 pounds, you can upgrade to the bulk heads seats & ask for a bassinet! The flight attendants will hook it into the walk for you after take off & uninstall it right before landing. The only catch is that during turbulence, you have to take the baby out of the bassinet. That was hard but it was GREAT to give our arms a rest & have a place for Kerr to sleep & play! ***
“How was this trip different traveling with Kerr vs Pre-Baby”. The honest answer? VERY different but the best kind of different. As we walked around the countryside with many an “Oh My!” we felt a new sense of wonder. Not only were we gazing at beauty, taking in a new culture, & enjoying everything around us, we had a baby to show this new world to! This is the kind of mundane joy you feel in love - even the grocery store is fun & exciting! You can have fun anywhere :) Here we are, exploring this street but with our baby boy - hooray!
Once we adjusted our expectations, things became so much easier. You can’t possibly do all the things & go go go like before. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Soaking in the hours well-spent is so much better than trying to cram it all in. Traveling with Kerr made us more flexible & we think the same for Kerr - he came home a much happier baby & one that can have his schedule bent a bit & still be OK!
“Do you think traveling makes you a better parent?” Oh man. I sure hope so because we hope for lots of travel in our future! ;) What stuck out to me was how differently the French view children & mamas. Every morning, I would walk to the bakery for fresh bread (duh!) & most mornings the bakery would be filled with men in their work clothes picking up bread for the day. When I would walk in with Kerr, they would step aside, “Bebe, bebe!” they would all say! Motioning me to the front, I was at first embarrassed. Then suddenly it hit me. They acknowledged “We see you! You are not insignificant! You also are doing hard work in raising your bebe. Please, come to the front!”. I wept - large tears. Oh friends. The amount of times that I have struggled to open a door in a public place while people have just stood by & watched here in the States - I realize now that I have a lot to model our baby. “Look at others little one. See them for who they are - human. Real. Significant. Don’t turn away. We all need each other!”
I pray that traveling makes us better humans, parents, & Christ-followers.
Traveling as a family in the upcoming future & have questions? Drop us a note in the comments & let us know. We would love to answer & encourage you!