My mantra for travel is to pack light. I learned this lesson several years ago the hard way. As novice travelers, my husband and I packed two ridiculously large suitcases and had to carry them up an eight-flight staircase in Amsterdam that was about as narrow as my attention span. Those Dutch know how to bike and build ships... elevators are not their thing. No wonder they're all so skinny.
Since that disastrous staircase incident in Holland, I've never regretted underpacking for a trip. Traveling is not about comfort or vanity. When I allow myself to be untethered to my “things”, traveling extends a portal to truly experience another culture and way of life.
But let's face it-- these romantic notions are way easier said than done now that I'm traveling to South America with Jack and all his baby accoutrement. What to take? What to leave behind? I want Jack to be comfortable, but I have to streamline what he needs down to the bare essentials. Here are some of my must-have travel items (almost all from local stores!) that will keep your suitcase light and your children happy.
Ergo baby carrier with back-pack attachment: The Ergo baby carrier allows me to wear Jack upfront or on my back. Quito (like many cities in the world) does not have sidewalks that are exactly stroller-friendly, which makes traveling with a baby-carrier a necessity. Ergo also makes a nifty back pack that attaches to the carrier. This way, I can throw in some of Jack's essentials when we go on hikes. I use my baby carrier constantly (I also highly recommend the Beco baby carrier if you want to look at some options) and find it so incredibly comfortable. In the summer, I love taking Jack on walks, without the hassle of bringing a stroller in and out of my house. An added bonus is that the Ergo goes up to 35 pounds, so you can even stick a toddler in there. I bought both of my baby carriers at Mama's Hip on Bardstown Road.
“My Little Seat” travel highchair: I was told not to expect restaurants in South America to have high chairs. As fun as it sounds to try to eat ceviche with Jack sitting on my lap pulling my hair, I thought it would be more prudent to find a solution. The remedy? “My Little Seat” travel seat! You just slip the fabric over any dining chair, and strap your baby in. With a five-point safety harness, My Little Seat safely restrains even Jack, my little bald Houdini. Another great feature it that after you use it, My Little Seat folds down to the size of a diaper. You can find “My Little Seat” at The Nest.
Sleep Sheep On The Go!: I love travel products that have duel purposes. The Sleep Sheep On The Go! is a plush stuffed animal that also doubles as a sound machine. It has a choice of two timers (23 or 45 minutes) and several different sounds from nature such as a bubbling stream, rain and the ocean. Quito is a busy city, and I'm sure it will come in handy at night—I can place it in Jack's crib for some snuggles and it simultaneously blocks out city noise. Not only is the product great for travel, but it is perfect for everyday use as well. The Sleep Sheep has a Velcro strap that you can use to attach to a crib, car seat or stroller. So you can use it wherever you go, from strolling with your baby at the mall to driving in a car. The people at cloudb were nice enough to send me one, but you can find a Sleep Sheep On the Go! locally at Animal Crackers or Amazing Green Planet.
PeaPod Portable Crib:This “crib” made by Kidco is actually a small, pop-up tents for babies. It folds down and can easily fit in your suitcase, and even comes with an inflatable mattress! Place the baby inside their cozy tent and zip it up, so that they can't get into any shenanigans overnight. My husband and I always found Pack-and-Plays to be a huge pain in the rear to deal with when traveling. The PeaPod crib is so easy to pack and unpack, so it's perfect for our trip to Ecuador or even a sleepover at Grandma's house! I know it's not a local business (sigh), but we found ours at BabiesRUs on Shelbyville Road. Or if that place makes you as crazy as it makes me, order one from Amazon.com.
Chico Bag:Okay, okay...this isn't technically a baby item. But, in my humble opinion, this is a travel “must have”. Made from recycled plastic bottles, this tiny little pouch is about the size of my palm. But take it out of its little case and voila...you've got a 13.5x14.5 bag that's capable of carrying whatever goodies you find on your trip and decide to bring home. I think it will also come it really handy with kids. I can throw it in Jack's diaper bag, just in case he has an “accident” and I need something to store dirty clothes in. It also comes with a cool little carabiner clip so that I can attach it to another bag or my pants. You can find Chico Bags at Amazing Green Planet or Rainbow Blossom.
So there you have it. All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go. Leaving on a jet-plane for Quito today with my almost one-year-old in tote. I'll try to pop in later this week from Quito and let you know how my South American adventure with Jack is going. So adios...and wish me luck!
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Photo: courtesy of Ergo