Traveling light with a baby: What and how to pack
As I embark on our trip to Thailand, Lou is 7 months old. I have read and thought a lot about the subject before deciding on what to bring and how best to pack so that I will have what I need but not more, so that traveling alone with a baby stays fun and doesn't end up feeling like I carry the world on my shoulders. The key is to pack light and I will show you how! I will focus on longer trips to warm climates and babies around 7 months of age, the list is easily adaptable for short trips and younger or older babies. The things I linked to are the exact same things I bought, a lot of research, trying out, sending back, searching again went into this, so I know that these are good products that will make your trip so much easier for you and your baby!
I. What to pack.
You will have to do laundry on longer trips anyway so do only take the most necessary items.
I packed the following for Lou:
2 short-sleeved bodies, 1 long-sleeved body, 2 t-shirts, 2 shorts, 2 items of sun protective swimwear, 1 sunhat with sun protection 50+, 1 pullover with hoodie and 1 pair of long, light trousers. All the clothes apart from the swimwear and sunhat should be made from cotton, linen or merino wool.
I packed the following for myself:
5 panties, 2 tops/bras, 3 t-shirts, 1 long-sleeved shirt, 1 long comfortable pair of trousers, 2 shorts, 1 dress, 1 cotton scarf or sarong (for flights, airports and other air-conditioned places), 2 pairs of socks, Birkenstock (the best shoes ever!), trainers (these ones are great for hot countries and lots of walking).
2. Medical kit
What you pack will reflect your opinion about how best to deal with sickness. I personally see sickness as more than bodily symptoms and mostly look for help in a shamanic journey. If I decide that I or my baby need some kind of bodily treatment, I use homeopathy and herbal products only. Your own list might therefore change greatly. You will definitely need the following but might choose common pharmacy remedies instead of my solutions:
- Something to clean and heal minor wounds with. I suggest: a disinfectant spray, plaster strips, bandages, small scissors, Bach rescue remedy, Arnica montana 200 and a healing salve. There's a great cream made from turmeric that I bought in India that will disinfect, help wounds to heal more quickly and also stop mosquito bites from itching and swelling.
- Electrolyte powder to rehydrate the body in case of diarrhoea (ask for one that is suitable for children too) and a diarrhoea cure like charcoal tablets. Taking prebiotics each morning during your trip and starting already a week before you go is a good way to avoid diarrhoea altogether. Try to avoid eating unwashed fruit or vegetables.
- A cooling salve in case of mild sunburns like aloe vera gel. Do however try to avoid sunburns altogether by only going out into the sun in the mornings, late afternoons and evenings, using sun screen and dressing your baby in protective clothing.
- Something to avoid and treat mosquito bites. I make a natural repellent myself by mixing coconut oil with a few drops of citronella essential oil, this way I'm not scared of chemicals when my baby gets it into his mouth. Avoid going outside with your baby around sunrise and sunset to keep bites to a minimum. Existing bites I treat with turmeric cream as stated above.
- A fever treatment like Atrop belladonna C 200. You should however not treat a fever at all when it is not above 39 degrees and doesn't last longer than 3 days and there are no other signs of it being something more serious. Fever is our body's natural defense mechanism against intruding bacteria, we need to let the heat do its work before eliminating it, rest and fluids are all you need. It is a sign of good heath when children can develop high temperatures and a fever is what to expect when you take a baby to a new environment with lots of new germs.
- I filled tea bags with tea for the most common ailments like colds (sage + thyme) and indigestion (aniseed + caraway + fennel).
- I took plant-based sleeping pills to avoid jet lag (valerian + lemon balm, you can also take these along as tea but you'll have to drink at least two strong cups for the same effect).
- A Teething aid like a cooling, pain numbing plant-based gel.
- In addition to Atrop belladonna C200 and Arnica C200 I took the following homeopathic remedies: Chamomilla recutita C200 (teething, restlessness) and all these in C30: Aconitum napellus (after accidents, colds from drafts), Drosera (cough), Allium cepa (colds; running or blocked nose), Ferrum phosphoricum (colds in children with fever under 39°), Ledum palustre (insect stings and bites), Anamirta cocculus (jetlag, motion sickness), Lytta vesicatoria (= Cantharis, used in case of burns, sunburn, bladder infection), Rhus toxicodendron (strains, exhaustion, dislocation, lumbago). As it would be inconvenient to take all these along in the bottles they come in, I filled them up into a small case of glass vials.
- 1 thin, cotton blanket or sheet to cover up with (I found that blankets provided are often too hot or made from tissue that makes you sweat). You can also buy a sarong in most Asian countries that will serve this purpose and it will have the benefit of you being able to wear it as a dress too.
This will depend a lot on what your baby can already eat. Lou at the age of 7 months was breastfeeding but also ate solid foods 3 times a day, things like compote, carrot mash or mashed banana.
- I took quite a bit of organic squeezable compote along and it turned out to be not nearly enough because I couldn't get any on the island.
- I took sorghum porridge along that I only needed to add hot water to.
- In Thailand there's a water boiler at every hotel but if you're not sure this will be the case where you go I'd take a small travel version.
- Fruit squeezer so that Lou can eat things like banana and steamed pumpkin by himself.
- A drinking bottle. Make sure your baby gets enough fluids!
- A pocket knife to cut fruit with, a fork to mash things with and 2 baby spoons
- An inflatable, adjustable babyseat, which was a lifesaver, as there were rarely baby seats in restaurants.
- 1 toothbrush + all-in-one liquid (f.e. Bronner's) filled into a small container to wash up things like the bottle when you are on the road or in a hotel without kitchen. I also use Bronner's to wash our hair with and do laundry!
- Disinfecting wipes to give toilets and washbasins a quick clean with if the hygiene isn't to my liking.
- Diapers and wipes (only for a few days, you can buy more once you have arrived) and travel potty.
- 1 diaper bag that you can also lie your baby onto while changing him or her.
- Baby nail clipper
- Castile Soap: I cut it in several small pieces before the trip and wash our bodies and hands with it.
3.4 Beach equipment
- 1 lightweight nylon blanket for the beach (or to cover any dirty floor with so that you can put your baby onto it).
- Sun screen (I use a great one that is mineral-based, vegan and food safe, so my baby can even eat it without any harm done! It is tricky to order though, drop me a line if you want to have some.)
- Toys: Your child will have lots of wonderful new things to discover so there's no need to bring a lot. What I recommend is one thing for your baby to chew on if he or she is teething (like this one, Lou's favourite toy since the age of 3 months) and one or two items that can be taken into the water to play with. We have a great "bath book" with simple images for that purpose and a small plastic crab that squirts water. Make sure your baby's toys are made from chemical free material.
The only thing I travel with is my ergo baby carrier. No stroller, no car seat. Here's why: Gear is heavy and difficult to carry and often more bothersome than useful. In Asia nobody asks you to use a car seat and you wouldn't even be able to put it into most cars because of lacking safety belts or lacking space. I carried Lou in the carrier in front when we were in the car but I wasn't driving myself. If you intend to drive a rented care you can probably rent a car seat too, write an email to check the availability before you go on your trip. If you intend to rent a scooter a baby sized helmet is a good thing to take along because they are often hard to get. And why no stroller? Again, it's heavy and bothersome and most baby's like to be carried lots better anyway. Apart from that you wouldn't get far with a stroller in many countries because the roads can be bad. Carrying your baby gives you lots of freedom to go where you please and move as you like and you have your hands free to take pictures or carry shopping bags or tickle your baby's feet. :)
5. What mommy needs
This is highly individual of course. Here's a rough outline of what I take along for myself apart from the clothes already listed:
- Electronic equipment: Computer + battery charger, Phone + battery charger, i-Pod + battery charger (also serves as my camera for this trip), kindle + battery charger
- Toiletry: Razor (I use one for men because I always find them better for sensitive skin), plastic neti pot + small bag of himalayan salt (If you don't know what that is, check my yoga page and go to "must have yoga tools"), hair brush, tooth brush + tooth paste, moon cup (ladies, if you are still using tampons, it is time for a big change! Moon cups are going to save you a lot of money and are so much healthier for you and better for the environment too! There's many different ones and also specialists who can help you choose the one that is right for you.)
- Inflatable pillow to sleep on the plane
- Soft ultra light-weight water bottle
- Thera band: For when my back needs a workout from carrying Lou around so much but I don't have the opportunity to enjoy a complete yoga workout.
- Credit card, cash card
- Passports + visa
II. How to pack
This question is just as important if you want to spend a hassle free vacation.
The first question to ask yourself is whether you want to use a suitcase or a backpack as your main baggage. I decided on a small suitcase, because I wanted to be able to carry Lou in a front carry position and take a small backpack to transport my computer and the stuff we needed on the plane as hand luggage. In addition to these baggages I only took another small hand bag. So I had three small bags and managed to comfortable fit everything into it. I managed this by using packing cubes that compressed our clothes.
I also packed every category of luggage into individual bags. One of them was for example filled with all the stuff I needed to feed Lou with when we went to the restaurant. Another one I put all of my electronic stuff apart from my computer in. Etcetera. This way you will be able to quickly find things instead of having to rummage through your luggage and it will also make packing a day pack very easy. These bags were great for that purpose. I used this bag for our toiletries.
That's it dears, write to me any time and feel free to leave comments below! Wishing you a great trip, love, Lily