After all was said and done, I was glad I toted so much baby gear with me while we traveled abroad to Europe. Here’s a recap of how I survived an airport layover, an 8 hour flight and a commute to our final destination. Get ready Amsterdam, here come mama and Willow!
Airport Layover – A three hour layover goes by in seconds when traveling with the wee one. Stop one: Family bathroom for a baby outfit / diaper change, potty for the mama and of course breast pumping. Stop two: Shop for some bottled waters for the next flight. Stop three: Business class lounge. I let willow out of her carseat / stroller for the 30 minutes we had in the lounge to stretch her legs, so to speak. I snacked on some butterfly shaped crackers and cheese slices and enjoyed some rest time. Lesson learned: A long layover (3 hours long, not 12) is good when traveling with the baby. I didn’t have to rush at all. Also buying that cookie cream sandwich for an in flight delight was an amazing idea. Mmmmmm.
International Flight – This part, amazingly, was the easiest. Willow, apparently worn out from a half day of travel, slept over 5 hours of the 8 hour flight into Amsterdam. We had a bulk head seats and a friendly lady neighbor in our row. I brought the swaddle with me, so once she looked ready to go to sleep, I did a quick diaper change and then put her in it. (I brought the Halo SleepSack with the velcro wings.) I also had purchased the boppy travel nursing pillow for the trip and it was great to be able to comfortably feed her in flight. Swaddle plus a little milk, while being all nuzzled up to mama, sent Willow to shushybye pretty easily. I slept some, but I wanted to keep an eye on her, or at least an arm. I was in and out of sleep for about 3 hours. Lesson learned: Bringing a cooler of breastmilk allowed me to not need to stress about feeding Willow in flight at anytime. Anytime I offered her a bottle, I just privately pumped and stored the milk to keep my supply up.
Taxi to House Boat – The taxi ride was uneventful. The real struggle came just prior, as I had to get 3 check bags and everything I took on flight to the taxi stand with Willow on my own. Generally people always help new mamas. But I’m guessing the sight of me pushing so much stuff with a baby was too ridiculous, because people stayed away. Ha! When we arrived and went to check in, we found out that the boat wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be for another 5 hours. Though, thankfully, I was able to store the luggage. So Willow and I set off to find a cappuccino and some wifi. And for being Europe in the fall, we were surprised and relieved to not get rained on at all. While out my ta-tas nearly exploded… I had forgotten to pump after the flight and I had kept Willow fed from my cooler stash for landing and the taxi commute so she wasn’t hungry at all. I took a deep breath and mustered up the courage for my first public pumping experience. Helloooo Europe! We navigated to a cute bench along a canal. I wore a nursing drape and ate an orange. Nobody noticed anything and it was no big deal at all. Lesson learned: Make sure everything is attached to you or baby or the car seat or the stroller. We lost a bottle at some point and mama was a bit disappointed.
Gear list: backpack of baby supplies, breast pump, bottled water, car seat, stroller with carseat adapter, baby food pouches, swaddle, boppy travel nursing pillow, cooler, breastmilk, hip pack, many pacifiers, snap lines, nursing drape, stroller gate check bag, bottle, blanket and fuzzy socks for the mama to feel cozy in flight, plastic book for baby, teething chewy.