Wednesday, September 7, 2016

What to take to Europe with an Infant

You know when you read posts titled, "Top 10 things" and really most of the article is complete common sense.  You are lucky if one thing on the list actually is a bit insightful.  That's especially how I felt reading articles and ideas about traveling with a baby.  And more than likely that is how this post will be.  But I figure I should write it all down as more of a check list I can give someone.  Kinda like the post I wrote about everything that I used/needed the first month Brad was born.

If I had one piece of advise about traveling in general and especially with a baby it would be: pack everything you think you need then get rid of a 4th of it and you should be good to go.  I am a firm believer that the worst thing one can do on a trip, especially a multiple location international trip, is pack too much.

That being said I must first state, we always had access to a washing machine every few days.  And I think that is the most important thing.  Although I will say I would rather spend a few hours at the laundry mat  or pay a huge amount to have clothes washed at a hotel than carry extra.  But we know I hate things.... so take my list with a grain of salt.

Anyway, here is my list of things I took for me and baby. So badly I wish I had a picture of all of our stuff together.... but didn't happen.  Oh well.

1. Car seat, stroller, and carrier
This was the biggest pain in the neck and most difficult decision of the whole trip.  My number one advise to people going to Europe with a baby would be to try and use only one form of transportation.  Meaning: rent a car the whole time and bring your own car seat or only use public transportation and don't bring your own car seat.  The hardest thing about our trip was we rented cars 3 different times so renting a car seat at $50 a day was not an option.  That meant we had to haul our car seat..... and in the end lose our car seat on our flight home.  Car seats and strollers are drama.  Lots of drama.  But they are sure worth it.

Strollers: lots of things I read said don't bring a stroller to Europe.  There are lots of stairs and so much cobble stone you are afraid that you might give your baby shaken baby syndrome.  It's true.  But man strollers are awesome.  Here is my thoughts about strollers.  If you take a stroller, if you are going to deal with the hassle, take a good one. DO NOT take a wimpy umbrella stroller.  If you are going to deal with the hassle of taking one, take a good one!!!   If I was going to do it again I probably would have taken a BOB running stroller.  The stroller I took was great because it was relatively light, small, and easy to maneuver but the rubber tires and shocks of my BOB would have been wonderful on the cobble stone.  But then again hauling a BOB up and down 52 stairs of our Florence apartment every single time we went out would have been a HUGE pain.  So I don't know, I probably made the right decision with the stroller I brought.  (I absolutely love my stroller, a Britax B-agile)  Only two downsides, no holder on top although there is a zipper pocket, and the underneath area isn't that big.  But I would buy it again in a heart beat.

Carrier: having tried out a few carriers (including a wrappy one and an Eddie Bauer awful one) before the trip I know not all carriers are created equal and I LOVED the Ergo carrier I had.  One added feature I loved was the "canapy" I could use to cover Brad's face from the sun or when he was sleeping.... or when I was eating and I didn't want to get food all over him. :)
But really this baby's smile in this picture is the best.
2. Backpack
This $20 backpack was the best investment ever.

3. Water Bottle
As I am sure you have heard, nothing is free in Europe.  Well I guess besides health care.  Everything else you are going to pay for, including public restrooms, which I will NEVER understand.  Anyway,  having a light but sturdy water bottle to carry around, fill in fountains that are everywhere, or even in bathroom sinks if I had to was awesome.  My liter sized Fiji water bottle was PERFECT.  Super study, great size, but if I lost it, it wouldn't have been a big deal.

(A flight attendant on our flight back to LAX threw away the cap to the water bottle making it useless and I have to admit after spending 5 weeks with that thing.... I was shockingly attached.)

4. Clothes
First I must state, after hauling your stuff around day after day, you quickly realize you'd rather wear a dirty shirt every once in a while than carrying more weight.  But luckily I don't think I ever had to wear a single dirty thing the entire trip.  We had a washing machine in every Airbnb.  Dryers were another story.... who knew life with a dryer was such a wonderful luxury.  Anway, here's what I took

3 pairs of shoes: 1 running shoes, 1 walking shoes, and 1 pair of sandals for beach and church.
5 pairs of unders and socks
4 t-shirts 2 pantish and one skirt (all seen below)

One jacket

 3 dresses: luckily for me t-shirt dresses were super trendy this summer so they were super easy to buy.  Super comfy, light weight, and most breathable in all the heat.

 3 running tank tops and 2 pairs of shorts (I also used for swimming)  I kinda regretted not bringing a swimming suit, but it was okay.  2 pairs of sunglasses 1 running and 1 regular.

 Not seen:
2 pairs of headphones (one bluetooth and one regular)
1 DSLR camera
2 phones (Used for camera, ipod, and wifi use)
1 Small laptop
Minimal toiletries
Hair spray
OH and 1 Rick Steves Italy 2016 book *worth it's weight in gold.
(I didn't bring any hair tools or supplies hence you saw death by the top knot)  I can't decide if I would change that.  My hair takes so so so long to do and is a disaster in humidity... sometimes I wished I had a stuff to do my hair but really I think I am glad I didn't have to carry the weight of a straightener, curling iron, and blow drying.

Before the trip I tested it out, I could fit everything I needed for the entire 5 weeks in that one red backpack.  Now if you are wondering, "Geez Kristin why didn't you take more stuff???"  Like I said I loved not having to carry a bunch of stuff. when it was just me and baby.  Hauling around his carseat, stroller, and him was enough for me.... but there is another reason.  Jason brought two very heavy and large items.  ALL the rock climbing gear.  That means a 15 pound rope, 2 harnesses, rock climbing shoes, and all the bells and whistles you need to sport climb.  AND he brought a BASE jumping parachute and helmet (long story that I'll have to tell you in person).  So honestly.... even if I wanted to bring more stuff we didn't have room for it.  So everywhere we went on buses, trains, cars, metros, and airplanes we had:
2  20 pound back packs (One with my stuff and one of the parachute)
1 50 pound suitcase full of rock climbing gear, helmet, Jason's stuff and baby's stuff
1 car seat (until it got lost at LAX)
1 baby carrier
1 stroller.
TOO much stuff....... it was awful trying to haul that around.
OH and 1 baby :)

For baby:
1 light weight diaper bag for daily use
6 bottles (one got lost within the first week so we were down to 5)
a tiny bottle of dish soap to wash out bottles on the move (Also worth it's weight in gold)
1 changing mat (used mainly for a place to put Brad while rock climbing - otherwise I wouldn't have brought it)

4 binkies (just in case)
4 blankets (1 flannel and 3 light weight)
4 pajamas
7 onesies/rompers.
1 pair of socks
1 hat
3 toys (teething ring and necklace - brought by Sara) and a rattle
1 thing of wipes lasted the entire 5 weeks
Formula and Diapers (So lots of articles said you should buy diapers and formula in Europe, which we did.  But both were significantly more expensive than the Walmart brand diapers and formula we use so I had Jason bring more of each when he came.)

I brought a notarized letter from Jason stating it was okay for Brad to travel internationally without him but no one ever asked.  But I would probably do that again just in case.  And I read somewhere to bring a copy of his immunization records.  But once again no one ever asked.

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