10 Things I Learned Traveling With A Baby

My wife and I recently returned from a week long vacation to the Dominican Republic with our three month old baby.  Although it is definitely different traveling with a newborn, we were still able to enjoy our vacation.  As new parents and avid travelers, we were very eager for little Alexandra Rose to get her first passport stamp.  There is no doubt that traveling with a newborn presents a new set of challenges which is why we opted for an all inclusive beach vacation for our first adventure as a new family. Here are some things I learned during our trip to the Dominican Republic:

1. Opt for non-stop flights  and minimize time zone changes- While planning this trip, my wife and I wanted to minimize the number of connections we had so we flew directly from Minneapolis to Punta Cana.  With a non-stop flight, there was minimal chance of lost checked baggage  and minimal hassle trying to make a tight connection.  There is no doubt that a non-stop flight eased our stress level considerably.

2. Plan to have a bottle, breast feed, or have a pacifier ready for the baby right at the start of take off-  With this in mind, the baby is distracted during take off and this minimizes the chance of any pressure related ear pain.

3.  Lower your expectations – This way, if the baby has a melt down or struggles with schedule changes, you will be able to get past this easier and enjoy your new way of vacationing more.

4. Go places where there are other kids on vacation – This made us feel more comfortable that we weren’t diminishing anybody else’s vacation given the high number of young families at our resort.

5. Avoid a vacation with lots of sightseeing or tours with a newborn – We still attempted to keep to a schedule with Alexandra thus scheduling any tours or sightseeing would have been very difficult.

Baby and Mom in the shade on the beach

Baby and Mom in the shade on the beach

6. Bring more diapers and baby outfits then you think you’ll need.

7. Make sure you have a pacifier clip – Cleaning sand off a spit out pacifier got old pretty fast.

8. Become skilled at eating with one hand – It seemed every meal Alexandra became fussy just about the time we sat down to eat.

9. If your resort has a buffet, learn your wife’s likes and dislikes for food – Because Alexandra was fussy during our meals, I would usually dish up my wife’s food so she could calm Alexandra down.

10.  Traveling with a newborn is different, challenging at times, but if you love to travel, there are few reasons not to hop on that plane and continue to see the world.

Little A chilling in her chair

Little A chilling in her chair

A Time For Reflection

There are certain moments during travel when you have time to reflect.  I recently had one of those moments.  A work related continuing education conference took me to Japan which happened to be the fiftieth country that I have visited.  What did this mean?  For one, I was counting my blessings that I was healthy enough to undertake these journeys.  Second, I was thankful that I had the resources to travel and that I was raised by two parents who loved to travel so much.  I felt lucky, inspired, and happy at that very moment as my plane crossed over the Pacific Ocean.

As I listened to Christina Perry’s “Human” during the twelve hour journey to Japan, the reflections on my life continued . Without a hint of doubt, some of my most happy times in my life occur when I am traveling.  Of course, I thought about those times and reminisced fondly of them.  Some of these moments were simplistic – eating In and Out Burger on the first day of our honeymoon as we watched planes approach LAX over Sepulveda Boulevard.  Other moments were too unbelievable to even describe. The three most enjoyable days I have spent in my life were at Pondoro Game Lodge in South Africa.  Never, have I been so captivated and excited for such a period of time.  I knew at that moment, everyone needs some adventure in their life.  Some unpredictability in life is ok.  I also thought about the times when I was able to celebrate a professional milestone with travel and two examples came to mind.  I was able to celebrate the passing of my board exams in Cairns, Australia with my friend Emily.  The other being a Baltic Sea cruise to celebrate the end of my oral and maxillofacial surgery residency with my parents and wife.  The happiness of attaining a goal and the relief that comes with it is one feeling that I most definitely will never forget.

Many times for me, travel has represented an escape from the stresses of life – almost all educational and professional stresses to this point.  When I am traveling, I tend to lose myself in the place.  The stresses are gone and although I know it is only momentary, it has been absolutely necessary for me to continue on this path I have chosen.  Ironically, these very professional stresses that have so tortured me have also allowed me to undertake such a varied and exotic travel lifestyle to six continents and fifty countries.  I guess life is all about trade offs.  I contemplated whether the trade off was worth it and the truth is, I don’t know the answer to that question.  The one thing I do know is that I will continue to travel.  The travel might not always be in the same capacity as it has over the last six years, but it will continue to be a priority.  That very thought makes me happy as I dream about the next adventure.