So the great Hawaii adventure is over. Tear. It was easily one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken, in part because of the gorgeous location and the indulgent length of our stay, but mostly because of the company — I had so much fun with my daughter. Traveling with an infant is new to me, and it was certainly new to her, but she handled the trip — lengthy drives, four plane rides, two time zone changes, and lots of new faces — like a champ. While I was certainly proud to receive words of amazement and praise from fellow travelers regarding Coraline’s easy-going, non-fussy demeanor, I was most pleased that my daughter was so happy and content. It set a nice tone for the trip from start to finish.
I was slightly overwhelmed, logistically speaking, being a jet set mommy amateur myself. But with a few tips from my own mom and others (and some fabulous green products), I was able to make it painless for us both and keep my eco-conscience clean and green. Here are a few travel tips for your green mommy-on-the-go arsenal:
- Leave the stroller at home or check it with your luggage and wear baby to the gate. It gives you two hands to juggle boarding passes, IDs, and bags, and you can wear baby right through security (they won’t make you take the baby off, but you will have to take them out of the stroller). It’s also easier getting on and off the plane, given it’s such a narrow, crowded space, and makes baby feel more secure in all that boarding chaos.
- If you have to bring a car seat to use while on your vacation, you can check it with your luggage for free. If your only concern is safe rides to or from the airport, you can arrange to have a car meet you with a seat. Just make sure to indicate if you have a wee one who should be rear-facing so the seat is installed appropriately. We cruised to and from the airport in an eco-friendly Prius thanks to Planet Tran, which provides hybrid-only transportation, and serves New England and San Francisco.
- Nurse during take-off and landing to help neutralize baby’s ears and avoid the crying certain to accompany the uncomfortable pressure changes. If you can’t get the timing right, offer a pacifier or finger to keep them sucking.
- If you use cloth diapers and don’t want to bring disposables for your trip, you may want to look into gDiapers. A cloth-disposable hybrid, you can flush the inserts, or just toss them; since they’re plastic-free, they’ll biodegrade. If you’re staying somewhere with a washer and dryer and want to keep up with the cloth, just remember to bring some of your cloth diaper/baby-friendly laundry soap. You may want to bring soap if you plan on doing laundry period. I brought some Charlie’s in a baggie and was glad I did — I could pack less knowing I could do wash if needed.
- I think most new moms are über-germaphobic, and a trip through the grocery store is nerve wracking enough, let alone an airport or airplane during a swine flu emergency. Deep breath — baby is safer than you think, especially if you’re breastfeeding. But you can of course take some extra precautions. For one, wearing your baby in the airport keeps their face close to your chest and away from the sneezes and oochie coochie hands of other travelers. Bring along some sort of anti-bacterial wipe to clean your hands, baby’s hands, and anything baby might touch on the plane like the tray table or arm rests. I like Giovanni Refresh Organic Grapefruit Splash mini-towelettes — they are anti-bacterial and smell deliciously refreshing (as they name suggests). Lastly, crank up the air. I have it on good authority that not only is plane air not recycled, it’s arguably the cleanest air to ever touch your skin. Apparently, air is pulled from outside (a crystal clear 30,000-plus feet), heated to extreme temperatures to purify, and then cooled as it’s pumped back into the cabin.
- If you’re going someplace warm and plan to spend some time on the beach, make sure you have appropriate sun protection for you and baby. Babies under six months old should not wear sunscreen. So find a big floppy sunhat and some long-sleeved swimwear for baby to wear in the pool or ocean, and make sure to bring an umbrella with you to the beach. Remember that the glare off the water can still burn them, so it’s best to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day (approximately 11 a.m.-2 p.m.). Since you will undoubtedly be holding baby with lots of skin exposed while you’re in a swimsuit, make sure your sunscreen is chemical free (Burt’s Bees makes one).