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This week we started releasing episodes from our Italy series on Youtube and the first episode kicks off with our travel day.
Flying internationally with a four-month-old was a terrifying prospect when we booked our tickets. We had no idea what parenthood would look like and adding in a transatlantic flight could’ve been a recipe for disaster.
Before taking an overnight flight with Ellie, we took a test trip out to California to see how easily we could travel with a baby. She was only two months old at the time and slept for a majority of each leg of the flights. Everyone says that babies will adapt to your lifestyle and the younger you travel with them, the faster they will adapt. We are really testing that theory!
In this video, we pack up, fly from Dallas to Paris and then onto Venice before taking Ellie’s first boat ride through the canals of this unique Italian city.
What’s in all those giant bags?
Packing for a Month in Italy with a Baby
“Let’s just do carry-on bags,” Heath tossed out nonchalantly.
“There’s no way it’s possible,” I replied.
“Just humor me. We had so many bags in New Zealand and we will be getting on and off trains with our luggage. I want as few bags as possible.”
Well, we had as few bags as possible, but we still looked ridiculous!
As we discussed in the video, we had to bring a car seat for Ellie because we would be RVing and our rental company only offered front-facing car seats. I looked into baby gear rentals in Venice, but none allowed for a one-way rental on a car seat like we needed.
We had no choice but to bring our own car seat for Ellie—hence the GIANT bag on Heath’s bag.
A few months ago we took our first flight with Ellie and the airline ruined our car seat base. “Mangled beyond repair” were their words. We had to buy a new one (and for the record, Delta reimbursed us for this in a matter of two weeks). So this time we weren’t taking any risks! On a series of islands where you can only get around by boat or on foot, there was no chance of buying a new car seat in Venice. We needed our car seat to survive this airplane!
We used a car seat travel bag with backpack straps. We loaded in not only the car seat and car seat base, but also extra diapers and wipes. (Pro tip I learned from my mom!)
In addition to Ellie’s car seat, we needed to pack a bed for Ellie. Honestly, if our RV had a queen bed instead of two twin beds, I might’ve not packed a bed for Ellie at all purely because bringing her bed added so many logistical issues.
We bought the Lotus Travel Crib by Guava on the recommendation of another RVer. It packs up small enough to fit into a large suitcase (but it does come in a bag so you can carry it if you have enough arms). The whole bed is just under 15 pounds so we came in just over the baggage weight limit and had to add a few things to our car seat bag.
The bed—or at least the mattress—was essential in the RV but not needed in our Airbnbs where they provided a crib. For any future big trips, I dream of not needing to pack our suitcase around a bed.
How to Get A Bassinet for Overnight Flights
For really long flights, getting a bassinet is key! It made our flight to Paris so much easier. Ellie could sleep for hours at a time and I had my arms and lap free.
To get a bassinet, the first step is to choose bulkhead seats. AKA seats where there is a wall in front of you, not another row of seats. Bonus: This also means you will get extra legroom!
But if you go to choose your seats on your flight and the bulkhead is completely full, there’s still a chance you can get a bassinet!
Every airline has a different policy for moving to a bassinet seat. For many, you can call after booking your tickets and they can move you around. For Air France, you have to ask at the counter or at the gate before your flight. We arrived at the airport extra early so we could make sure to get a bassinet. Because there is limited space for bassinets, they give them to babies based on age. So the younger your baby, the better chance she’ll get her bassinet.
On our way back from Europe, we flew to Paris before flying back to the states so we couldn’t request our bassinet until we landed, went through passport control, found our gate, etcetera. Way too late to request a bassinet and there were two babies younger than Ellie on the flight who were given priority.
Luckily, the gate agent was a fellow mom and reserved us an entire row—four seats all to ourselves—instead. I definitely prefer the bassinet as our armrests didn’t lift so I couldn’t lay Ellie down on the seat when she slept. Heath and I took turns holding Ellie for the nine-hour flight back to the states. No fun. But we at least had extra seats to toss toys, wipes, burp rags, snacks, and all the other random things you want in arms reach during a flight.
Where to next?
I know we just got back from Italy a little over a week ago, but reliving our trip through these videos is a good reminder that Ellie is really fun to travel with. She’s a great traveler and I can’t wait to show her the world. 🌍