Episode 20 –
Traveling with Your Infant
with Stacie Dee, RD
“Some of our most special times this last year has been when there’s no cell reception, there’s no Wi-Fi and we’re just stuck on an island in the middle of the Philippines, just the three of us.”
Your traveling days don’t have to be over just because you have a child – that’s the motto of Stacie Dee! Stacie and her husband have taken their daughter to over 14 countries in her first year of life and she’s on the podcast to give her best tips to make travel more manageable with an infant or toddler. Do you travel with your kids? Let us know over in the Raiseology Facebook Group! Check out Stacie’s blog at www.MommysaMess.com! Thanks for listening!
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Intro: Welcome to the Raiseology podcast with your host, pediatrician and parenting mentor, Sharon Somekh, here to empower parents to raise resilient and independent children. Grab your coffee or your Margarita and let’s get started. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should be used to supplement rather than substitute the care provided by your physician.
Sharon: So I’m here today with Stacie and we are going to be talking about traveling with kids and Stacie has a one year old who they have just spent the entire last year traveling around and I’m going to let her tell her story and you know, hopefully we’ll get some great information about how you can make traveling with your kids easier. So stacie, welcome and thanks for being here.
Stacie: Thank you so much for having me.
Sharon: So tell us a little bit about yourself, about your family and um, and about your experiences.
Stacie: My family consists of my daughter, Ella, who just turned one on September 4th and my husband Alan and we’ve been married for six years. Me and Alan have always been travelers. We met traveling and we continued traveling throughout our relationship. We were engaged in India and have traveled to over 57 countries together, so travel has always been a huge part of our life. And then when Ella was born or when I was pregnant with Ella, everyone said, that’s it. Traveling days are over, you’re never traveling again. They basically were trying to scare us, tell us that, you know, this is it, and now this is parenthood. And so, um, if you know, my husband, you would know his, his goals in life are to prove everybody wrong. So he was determined to continue. We were both determined to continue our travel lifestyle and I was actually able to find a group online on facebook, inspired by a woman who in England, took her daughter on her maternity leave and traveled around the world with her. And she created this community called travel mad families about similar families who, you know, used, felt family travel was extremely important to them. And so through their support and support, we booked Ella’s first flight before she was even born to England at 11 weeks old. And since then we just took off running. Um, she’s been to 14 countries on over 20 flights and we actually spent five weeks through the New York state paid family leave. I took part of my leave at the end of her at the end of her first year. I split it up. Then we spent five weeks traveling around the Balkans together.
Stacie: So travel and we actually just upped our next trip will be going to New Delhi and the Paul and Bhutan in March.
Sharon: Yeah. I mean, can you tell me a little bit, I guess, why is travel so important to you?
Stacie: So I think travel is so important to me and for our daughter because there’s so much that you can learn that isn’t easily available and isn’t just right outside your door. The whole world is just so interesting. People are interesting, cultures are interesting and it’s important to us that Ella be exposed to that, to be exposed to that. There is a world outside of Long Island, New York and there is a world outside of the United States. Um, and to just have those experiences and also to separate ourselves from our daily life and just be able to spend time one on one as a family. Some of our most special times this last year has been when there’s no cell reception, there’s no WIFI and we’re just stuck on an island in the middle of the Philippines, just the three of us, has been some of the most special time we’ve had together.
Sharon: Yeah, that sounds amazing. So can you tell us a little bit about where were some of those countries that she’s been to our and um, and I guess where have you been in the last year?
Stacie: So in the last year we started off by going to London, England where my husband is from, Ella, took her first plane ride at 11 weeks old. And then from there we went to, uh, St Louis, Missouri because is it a very close friend of mine who had had a baby. We continued our travels by going to Guadalupe for a long weekend in the, in the Caribbean. Then we booked a trip and we made it to China and we took LSD, Shanghai to go to Disney world and continued on to the Philippines where we spend some time in Manila, but mostly spent most of the trip in a small one of the islands on the El Nido and after that we went to Miami. We took another trip to London to visit some family and then we took our big trip and we booked tickets to England and continued on to Slovenia where we rented a car and we drove through Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, and Bosnia, and then took a plane back to Spain and then came back home and we got back around mid August.
Sharon: That’s incredible. So what would you say have been some of your biggest challenges traveling with her?
Stacie: I think a lot of the biggest travel, the challenge is traveling with a young baby are the logistics. You know, babies need a lot of stuff, they need car seats, they need a place to sleep, they need a high chair, they need just tons of clothes, diapers, and just planning all of those logistics. So it was very important to us that even in some of these countries where, you know, the Philippines, they don’t really use car seats, things like that. It was important for us that we had that for her and so it was important to find items that were easy to travel with and that we could take with us everywhere easily.
Sharon: Yeah. And I mean she’s obviously very young and we know she’s not really going to remember necessarily the places that she’s traveled to at least yet. Um, so what do you think the biggest benefit to her is at this time?
Stacie: So I think the biggest benefit to her at this time would be that, you know, traveling, become second nature to her, you know, she is great in the car, she’s great on the plane because we’ve done it from the beginning. It’s actually much easier to travel with very young babies than as she’s gotten older it has become more challenging. Um, I also just think the second benefit is her learning to adapt. Um, when we were away, Ella has had to sleep in many different places. Sometimes changing every night. She’s not always taking the same nap schedule, she’s not eating those same things that you would eat at home. She’s eating whatever the food is of where we are. So I think she’s learned to be more flexible and more adaptable and it’s allowed when we come home that we don’t have to be so restricted to a schedule and to, you know, eating those same things. It’s made her more adventurous.
Sharon: Yeah. And it’s interesting to think of a one year old is adventurous, but it definitely makes a big difference. I mean, I have traveled with my kids from young ages. I have family overseas as well and um, and it, I agree with you, it does get a little bit more challenging at the age that she is now, but I promise it will get a little bit easier. Um, age between, you know, the early toddler years are challenging to travel with. But um, but it will, I think because she’s so used to it and because she is, um, she’s accustomed to being out of that routine it won’t be probably as difficult. Um, and how do you handle things like, I mean at her age, at one and two kids want to be walking around a lot and a long plane ride is not necessarily as pleasant as you may want it to be. What are the best tips you have for handling a long plane ride? Um, with a toddler?
Stacie: The plane rides have definitely been a challenge as you said it gets more challenging as they get older. I think, you know, a young baby, a younger baby who can fit in the bassinet, handling a longer plane ride, getting the bulkhead is key to try to get the best that, um, and also it gives you some extra leg room, um, and allows you to spread a blanket on the floor and we’d kind of like play down there with her. The toddler kid walking up and down the aisles is key. One of his favorite place is in the jump seat in the back of the plane with my husband watching everybody come in and out of the bathroom. There is no greater entertainment then your fellow passengers because as long as your baby is screaming, people actually tend to love babies. And even if they are screaming, I found that people are actually very kind and are like, can I help you? Is there anything I can do for you? And just sort of like random items, the plastic cups she loves to play with, she likes to, she likes to play with the cards and the seats for older kids buying window clings and putting them on the windows if you have a window seat also going to the dollar store and just buying as many sort of dollar toys in the hours that you’ll be on the plane. And then wrapping them and like gifts like gift wrapping and giving like one new toy an hour can be really helpful because then if you leave them on the plane they were only a dollar and they get to open something new. And also the gift wrapping paper sort of provides some extra time for them to like rip it open and get to it. So that’s, that’s some of the tricks that we use.
Sharon: I love that idea. That’s a new one. I have not tried that. I have people to be really helpful. Especially if you. I don’t know if you’ve had the experience of traveling alone with her, but I have traveled alone with my kids and um, I’ve traveled with anywhere from two to four of them by myself and I do find people are really sympathetic to that and um, and try to help you as much as you can.
Stacie: No, definitely. I’ve noticed that, um, you know, people I have had the experience of traveling with Ella once by herself and it was actually one of her most challenging flights which did result in her screaming and being very upset and very challenging to get her to calm down. And actually the woman behind me actually offered to take her and she didn’t speak English, but she, you know, it was kind of like we communicated through sort of like our eyes where she was like trying to tell me that. And I understood some very basic Spanish that she had two young kids and she understood and she was actually able to get Ella to calm down. So just the kindness of people can just be unbelievable.
Sharon: What’s the challenge that you’ve faced in the last year that you think will not be one that’s temporary and something that you’ll have to sort of find a way around or may have already found a way around it?
Stacie: Adapting to time zone. So it’s probably been one of the biggest challenges, especially as she’s gotten older because when they’re young they kind of sleep and eat and it’s easy. They’re not really on a schedule, but as they get older they do get more, you know, they understand morning, they understand night and when you go to Asia and there’s a 12 hour time difference, everything is just flipped upside down and then when you come home it’s flipped upside down again. So it’s been the challenge of kind of adapting to time zones and realizing that one of us has to get up and accepting that, you know, she may not always nap on time, she may be sort of not the happiest, uh, until she adjusts to that time zone. But scheduling lots of outside time. So she’s in the sun, so her, her body clock, will re-adjust to wherever she’s at.
Sharon: And do you, um, do you try to spend more time in the beginning in certain places so that she can adjust? I mean, you said you went some places just for a weekend, so that’s hard for them to sort of, they probably never, probably never adjusted before you came home.
Stacie: No, definitely. I mean I think it depends where we’re going and what the time zone is. England for example, we tend to only go for three or four days and so she’s not going to adjust in that time. There are five hours ahead and so a lot of times we will keep her on American time, which is beneficial to us because then if she goes to bed later, so we’re able to spend more time out with friends and family and then she sleeps in later. And then when we get home, you know, she’s basically readjusted back to US time. On the longer trips like Asia, we try to go for a longer period of time, so then this way she will adjust and when I get home I try to take two extra days off to prepare for, you know, this way if she’s up in the middle of the night, I can be up with her or if she’s kind of off. So one of us can be home with her while she, while she adjusts, but it, it takes about, I would say three days on average for her to adjust to either time zone has been our experience.
Sharon: Yeah, I think that’s been my experience too. And I find that um, if I take flights at certain times of the day that helps. Um, so when we travel overseas where we travel, it’s about seven hours ahead and if we fly at night time here, then by the time even if she doesn’t sleep very well by the time we arrived there, it’s already evening time and then she can get a real full night’s sleep and they adjust to there pretty quickly, coming home sometimes a little bit harder.
Stacie: No, definitely. That’s definitely been our experience as well as our are amazing. Especially flights that leave very, very late at night because then she gets to the airport, she’s exhausted and she falls right back to sleep. So it’s been definitely something we try to also schedule flights sometimes during nap time because then this way she is meant to sleep and then she will hopefully fall asleep or at least be a little more, you know, relaxed because she’s tired.
Sharon: Yeah. And then what, um, what challenges would you anticipate in the coming years?
Stacie: I think there will be quite a few more challenges, especially with the flights, the want to walk around everywhere and not be restricted. Um, I think some other challenges are just that she’ll want to sort of get into everything which, you know, and, and, and make and planning activities that she’ll enjoy. Um, this past year, you know, we were kind of able to just stick her in the stroller and go wherever we wanted. I think it’s going to be a little more challenging this year to find activities that she’ll enjoy that will keep her busy. Um, and that she’ll take away from the experience with some, hopefully. Hopefully some good, some good experiences, positive memories. I know she may not remember, but we’ll definitely remember. Um, that’s kind of what I think will be the new challenges. Also I think as kids get older, they get, they get more stuck in a schedule. I mean Ella is very flexible I think compared to a lot of other children because of her traveling, but I think it will be a challenge to make sure that that one nap a day is, is taken and that we planned for it and we plan our schedule around it.
Sharon: Yeah, she’ll need it. At least for the next couple of years and then she’ll outgrow it.
Stacie: Yea and then I’ll be missing it. Haha.
Sharon: Yes you will haha. And then with the group that you’re involved in on facebook, have you found that some of the families are traveling, I’m sure with multiple kids and I’m guessing they help with the challenge of how do you entertain kids of different age groups and um, that also can be sometimes difficult to plan for.
Stacie: No, definitely. They’ve been so helpful. These families are more families that travel long term. A lot of them are like, this is their lifestyle is traveling with their kids for long periods of time, three months in Asia, two months in South America, they have a lot around the world, sort of paid time off, is a lot more lenient than in the United States, so they’re able to take off longer with their families. A lot of them have multiple kids and this is their lifestyle. So they’ve had a lot of great suggestions. They’ve been extremely welcoming, extremely encouraging. I would say the majority of them are not from the United States. In fact, they’re from all over the world. It’s a group of almost 3000 people.
Sharon: Wow. And what would be sort of your most exciting trip that you maybe haven’t had yet and you really are dying to take with her? Um, and I guess, are you planning to take that trip soon or if not, why not?
Stacie: So I think that’s a hard question. We just want to go everywhere. I think that we are very excited. We just book is this trip to Bhutan and India somewhere that we’ve always wanted to go that’s very hard to get to. And because you need to go, they only allow you in the country with a tour group. They don’t have a lot of visitors. So something that we’re, we’re very excited. We’re very excited to take, to take Ella. A trip that we really would love to take her on, that, you know, we’re not ready to take her on, would be to go back to Africa and take her on Safari. It’s something that I think would be an amazing experience, but I think she needs to be a little older and definitely hopefully be able to remember that trip. My husband went, he went, he was eight years old to Kenya and it’s something that he still remember this day. So we do want to make sure that she remembers that.
Sharon: Yeah, that sounds like an amazing trip. My parents did that trip a few years back and um, and they loved it.
Stacie: Yeah. So things for the future. Definitely.
Sharon: Yeah. It’s interesting because we travel a lot with our kids, but we travel really mostly to see family. And we, you know, my husband and I are both physicians and we haven’t had that luxury of being able to take longer periods of time to travel, even just the two of us, um, so most of our trips have been to sort of relax a little bit when you a break, um, and now our kids are starting to get a little bit older where I have felt like I want to wait until they get old enough to remember certain trips because we already missed that boat of the beginning. But you’re, you are inspiring me to remember that there are a lot of other benefits to traveling with them besides the actual sites that they’re going to see and that the family time is so important. And that really it makes it worth it just in itself.
Stacie: No, definitely. I mean we will always remember the experiences that we’ve had with Ella. She’ll always have pictures. She’ll always have her passport and I know that down the road it will hopefully give her the same thirst and love for travel and world exploration that, that we have and hopefully shape her sort of shape who she is as she grows up.
Sharon: Yeah, it’s bound to, that’s for sure. Well, it sounds like you guys are, have had an amazing year and that you are continuing with that trend. So I’m excited for you and I’m excited to hear more about where you guys are headed. I really appreciate you telling your story here and I’m hoping that the audience will enjoy it as well. I’m sure they will. So thanks again for being here. And um, you know, one time actually you told me that you, you were writing a blog about travel, traveling with kids. Are you still doing that?
Stacie: I am. So me and a good friend of mine are writing a blog. She writes sort of about the, about motherhood and sort of humor of motherhood and her everyday sort of experiences. She’s a very funny, um, and I write the travel content. It’s called Mommysamess.com. And every week we post new things on our blog, we have an instagram, a facebook accounts, and I also try to post some articles too. I’ve been sending to some other websites as well.
Sharon: Oh, awesome. So I will, um, get that link from you and link to it in the show notes for this episode if anyone is interested. Um, and I’ll definitely be checking it out. It sounds like really a lot of fun. Um, so thank you again Stacie for being here. It was really lovely chatting about this and, um, I really appreciate you.
Stacie: Awesome. Thanks again for having me. It’s been a pleasure!
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Raiseology podcast. Head over to www.Raiseology.com, where you’ll find plenty of, you’ve got this resources for parents and any links or tools mentioned it today. Show be sure to hit subscribe on your podcatcher so that you can listen to the next episode, the minute it’s out. Until next time, have an empowered week.
Meet Your Mentor
Sharon is a general pediatrician, loving wife and mother to 4 daughters.
After a decade of practicing general pediatrics and working with families, she realized there often wasn’t enough time while tending to children’s medical needs to help parents in the way that would be most helpful in shaping their children’s futures.
The Raiseology Program was developed to teach parents how to raise their children with the love and authority necessary to promote resilience and responsibility.
Sharon’s experience with hundreds of families as well as her own help her meet you where you are on your parenting journey to help you make it what you want it to be.
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