Our first long-haul transatlantic travel with our young son (7.5 months) and burgeoning adventurer worked out wonderfully thanks to a few basic insights and key learnings.
We traveled from San Francisco to London, Munich, Stockholm, Scania, Copenhagen and back to London in 10 days in windy, rainy but also sunny fall, early winter weather. We had to rely on socialistic (laugh) transportations like bus, trains and flights as we didn’t bring any car seat.
It worked out wonderfully thanks to the great infrastructure across northern Europe. We also decided to only pack what we could transport in and on the stroller (see above image: two small duffel bags and a messenger bag) to keep things simple and light-weight. But we quickly realized we had packed too many clothes and toys. Suppose there is always room for improvements.
Our 5 key insights:
- Do your homework and plan out the logistics of the whole trip in advance to be able to really enjoy the travels and have energy and time to manage the unforeseen. Make sure you have a plan B and plenty of time if things go wrong, from missed connections to tube strikes or your child getting sick (which Oliver did the last few days).
- Flying in the evening or afternoon with plenty of morning, midday play got the little monster tired and he slept 8 out of 10 hrs to London. Try to get the bulkhead seat or the middle seat blocked out for more space. Important that both of you give your kid all your attention when the crying starts to a) stop the crying and b) show your fellow travelers that you are taking their comfort seriously. Nothing infuriates people more than ignorant and careless parents. A preventative measure that works is to introduce you and your child to your passenger by name and personality. Eases the potential friction.
- Stay at convenient located hotels that offer bathtub, breakfast, space for play and easy entry / exit with stroller. Request crib in advance.
- Pack light and rely on hotels, friends or laundromats to wash clothes every 4-5 days. Makes packing, repacking and traveling so much simpler. Check all bags plus stroller to final destination and use only one joint carry-on for the essentials such as food, diapers and in our case our iPads.
- Buy all convenience products locally to save space and time. This includes most of the toiletry which usually can take up a lot of unnecessary space. Bring one light-weight toy and buy more as needed. The world is not as foreign, dangerous or remote as it might seem…
Our trip was fun but very different from previous solo adventures. We discovered new places and people thanks to Oliver. One of them worth mentioning is the Serpentine Kitchen & Bar in Hyde Park - perfect for kids, great modern British food and a beautiful location.
All in all, it was a great pleasure seeing him grow through new experiences, meeting new people and enjoy traveling as much as we do. Watching him smile at people from all over the world and from all walks of life makes you feel good about the future. The little one has no prejudice - yet.
PS. The image shows Arlanda Express, the speedtrain connecting Arlanda Airport with Stockholm. It reached 130mph during our trip.