April 18, 2011 — -- Q: I'm 39 weeks pregnant (feels like about 99 weeks) and my husband and I have always loved traveling together. I don't want this to change once we have a baby. I mean, obviously we won't be jetting off to Vegas for a wild weekend, but I want to fly with the baby, I want to stay in hotels… I don't want to annoy other people, but I want to see the world. Any advice?
A: DO IT. I'm not going to lie to you and say traveling with kids is easy, though. It's not. It can be exhausting and exasperating. The amount of gear you have to transport is ridiculous. And all the less adventurous parents you know will think you've lost your mind when you tell them you're taking the baby to Buenos Aires. But despite the hassles, it's totally worth it. Here are some tips:
1) Get a portable crib and use it in your home every so often. I know it seems weird to have the baby sleep in a Pack n' Play when you have a perfectly good regular crib, but if you're going to be staying in hotels and requesting a crib in your room, it's good to get your baby accustomed to it.
2) If you want to spend a week at the beach, though, consider a vacation rental. You'll have more space and won't have to worry about the baby's crying waking up your neighbors.
3) Another vacation type to consider: cruises. You see a bunch of places and only unpack once. Disney cruises are especially baby-friendly (and I'm living proof that a non-Disney fanatic can actually enjoy them).
4) It's worth dropping big bucks on a good stroller. Make sure it's not enormous—actually, the more compact and lighter, the better. And you'll get through the TSA checkpoint faster if your stroller folds up easily.
5) If you and/or your husband get parental leave from work, why not take a family vacation during it? My daughter slept so well in the car we drove from Boston to Washington, D.C., when she was 3 weeks old and spent a long weekend there—it was fantastic.
6) Need a changing table? Try a museum.
7) The baby's schedule needs to dictate your daily itinerary. If your baby's fussy in the evenings but will nap in his stroller in the middle of the day, go to that restaurant you've been dying to try for lunch instead of dinner.
8) While airlines allow you to hold your child on your lap until they're 2 years old, this is hard on a long flight. If you can afford it, spring for a seat for the baby.
9) And if you buy the baby a seat, make sure your carseat is approved for use on planes. Some of the bigger "convertible" ones are too wide. I learned this one the hard way.
10) When flying with a baby, be friendly to the people around you and acknowledge their concern about being seated near a baby. If you say, "I apologize in advance if the baby gets cranky—I will do everything I can to quiet him down but appreciate your understanding," I guarantee they will be much more tolerant of a crying fit.
Q: Quick question: When should I tip the concierge—at the end of my stay or with each dinner reservation he makes for us?
A: Actually, I'd tip for your entire stay the first time you use the concierge's services. In my experience that gets you better service for the remainder of your trip.
Lesley Carlin has been writing about travel and etiquette professionally for more than 10 years. As one of the Etiquette Grrls, she is the co-author of "Things You Need to Be Told" and "More Things You Need to Be Told" (Berkley). Have a travel etiquette question of your own? E-mail Lesley at firstname.lastname@example.org.