I want to write all about Addie’s trip to Delaware, but I find my head spitting out thoughts faster than my fingers can type. I tried to record my thoughts, but they got jumbled and out of place. And so, I’ve decided to write about it in pieces. In this segment I want to write about traveling. There are a ton of blogs out there about the usual things, but traveling with a baby on a train isn’t like a plane. And traveling with a baby who cannot be worn, on a train, is hard. Here are a few things sometimes, we just don’t think about.
We took a lot of stuff with us… and I’m glad we did. Previously I had traveled with Addie alone to Philadelphia, but she was 7 weeks and I was using the Bjorn. On this trip, we knew that we could not use the carrier because children with achondroplasia are not supposed to be in carriers, but there was also luggage for 2 adults and a growing, curious baby.
Traveling by train was a wonderful experience for me growing up, and I learned a lot being able to travel alone, see the sights and use public transportation, so introducing Addie to the train seemed natural to me. Dave has not had much train, or travel, experience, but we gave it a whirl!
Boarding a train that is heading toward New York from Boston is hard. Boston tends to leave little room for Providence to sit, and so we were separated by the aisle, both sitting in the end seat beside 2 women. Dave’s seat partner was reading an Alex Cross novel (some of my favorites) and mine was reading Nicholas Sparks. We felt it best not to bother our independent travelers, but wanted to keep Addie on her normal routine, so we bumped elbows a few times with our partners getting ourselves situated into eating formation. Yes formation:
That’s tip #1: STAY ON SCHEDULE!
I think that following Addie’s daily routine was what saved us from any battles. She wasn’t cranky or hungry or tired, because we caught those things before they came. Including naps, which were taken across my legs:
We were lucky to have taken the train during the week on the way down to Delaware, because after New York, the train cleared drastically and we were able to spread out a bit. It’s all about timing with travel- especially if you need the extra space. Taking the train may seem longer, but without the time needed for boarding and security and getting to your terminal (not to mention the extreme monetary savings, in most cases), knowing that I can spread my wings is one of the reasons I love this mode of transportation!
This was Addie’s nest on the way back; we got the 4 seats where two face another two, offering no leg room. Perfect for families, but most people don’t want them in case more people need them (you end up sitting on people with a lot of leg touching). We lucked out on our Saturday morning journey home:
Tip #2: Travel during slow times, if at all possible.
Knowing that we could stick to Addie’s schedule and travel at lower cost AND during low travel times (mid-week early day and EARLY Saturday) made the space we needed possible. There was more room for us… we need lots of space!
Tip #3: Use your surroundings.
Addie is a curious baby, and gets bored of things. I think that means she’s brilliant… it also means she can be hard to amuse for 6 hours in one train car. Using our arsenal of toys AND the outside was a perfect mix of making train-travel work for us.
Tip: #4 Get some sleep yourself, too!
It’s not like I could have been doing something else… so I took advantage of some shuteye with my baby girl!
Tip #5: Enjoy some good eats together.
We made sure to pack a small lunch bag with sandwiches and apples so we didn’t have to spend a fortune on train food. Bringing a few different foods and our own beverages meant that we could have what we wanted, when we wanted.
Benefit of trains: if you want food, you don’t have to wait for the cart AND it’s not nearly as expensive as an airplane.
Tip #6: Please, smile and laugh.
Nothing will be perfect, and your baby will make noise, bother some people and downright annoy others. Addie spent about 10 minutes spitting while another child in the seat ahead of us was making noises, too. In all honesty, I’m sure it drove a few people nuts, but to the parents that were near us, it was adorable. And it made Addie’s teeth feel better. Crying or raspberries? I knew you’d choose wisely:
If I could have worn Addie, life may have been easier, but remember (Tip #7) achon moms and dads, pack wisely! I had everything on hand in the diaper bag and none of the non-essentials. Boogie Wipes? Her nose wasn’t running, we didn’t need them and the package is bulky. Things like a large changing pad are unnecessary because they are big and non-useable on the train. An extra outfit for the babe, and FOR YOU(!) are a must-have, as well as diapers, wipes, and bags for your trash and diapers so you can collect your own mess. Bring an extra bag for toys and blankets. And when you pack your luggage, do it organized! My pump was close to the top opening on the suitcase, packed with the battery pack for no-outlet pumping (if the train is stopped, for whatever reason, they turn off the electricity), a hooter-hider, Medela Wipes (for waterless washing) and we had ice packs for storing milk. On a train you don’t know if you will be stopped waiting for another train, just like at an airport you may have a delay. Be prepared- for your comfort and for baby. Packing is key.
Tip #8… bring a friend. Or enlist a stranger.
When I travel alone, I find the most in-shape man in a suit. Not because business men are more trustworthy than anyone else, but because I can run really fast and a man in $200 Italian shoes, fitted wool pants and a two-button jacket cannot. They can however, lift your 50 pound (52 pounds, probably) bag onto the train for you and up into overhead storage. Sometimes finding a red cap is hard, but a business man on a train? They’re a dime a dozen.
Tip #9 Practice.
How will the car seat come with you? Most babies, after a few months, are harder to carry in the seat than without. It’s oddly shaped and you can’t see over it. Try attaching it to your bag (sans baby, clearly). Does it work? Will it still stand upright? Do your wheels work, and all zippers close and do you have something on your luggage to show it’s yours (a bright orange ribbon, perhaps?) Attach your business card to all luggage, that way if someone is looking for you, and they contact your work, most likely work will know how to find you.
Tip #10 Don’t make your coffee before you go.
“Is the coffee pot off?”
We try to eat everything in the fridge that will go bad, surviving on pasta and cereal the day before a trip and chugging the milk for dessert the night before. Knowing that the trash is out, all appliances are off, and that we have no mess to clean is very important.
Have you ever made coffee before a week-long trip and come home to moldy grounds in the filter and dirty spoons stuck to the counter? I have.
Bring your travel mug with you to a coffee shop and fill up there. Then you have your mug- perfect for bringing coffee with you if you do end up making your own on your trip AND you don’t have to come home to any surprises… or the need to run vinegar through your coffee maker a dozen times then flush with hot water a few more times.
Tip #11 (Yes, 11 tips. I like to turn it up, all the way to 11) Make a list.
Put a list on top of your luggage on a large piece of paper. In red ink you should have written what should be in the car with you on your way to the station.
Bottle cooler with 2 ice packs
D’s Messenger Bag
Coffee Mug (2)
GET FROM FRIDGE: 2 4oz bottles, 1 6oz bottle
GET FROM FREEZER: 6oz frozen milk
C’s car keys
If someone puts something in the car, mark it off. You will know you have everything and not remember half-way though your train ride that the baby’s milk is at home. A million lists and you will remember nothing- just one list with everything you need on it, and you’re golden. Pack your tickets in the most easily accessible spot the night before, lay out your clothes and in the AM you can get up and go!
I hope this helps everyone out there. I have had my fair share of forgotten toothbrushes (I now have an exact replica of ours solely for travel, as well as contact cases), missing “all ready to go lunch”, coffee pot disasters, and the like. I am hoping to spare a few people out there the same fate!