Flying With Babies

I’m back with the second part of my traveling with babies series! My last post was all about taking a road trip with little ones, so if you’re going on a long car ride and you’re looking for suggestions, you can read that HERE. That post was fun to write, but I had a lot more interest in flying! I should start by saying that I’ve only flown with Joanne twice and they were both during a pandemic. I’m sure I will learn a lot more once everything is back to normal, but I’m not an expert.

As I said in my last post, this is based on my experiences ONLY. Joanne was only drinking milk during the times we flew and she’s been a great baby from the beginning. We’ve also only flown domestically. I’m sure it would be a lot different on an international trip. I also flew independently with her both times. If you’re flying with another person, I’m sure it will be 10x easier!

BASICS TO FLYING WITH BABIES

There are two ways to book your baby’s flight:

  1. You can buy a seat on the plane and put them in their carseat.
  2. Most airlines allow children 2 and under to fly for free as long as the baby is seated in your lap. Book your flight and then call the airline and tell them that an infant is traveling with you for free. They will put their information into the system and you’re all set!

Documents:

  1. The closer your baby gets to the age of 2, the more likely you’ll need to bring their birth certificate or passport to show their age.
  2. When flying internationally, all babies need a passport. The passport is good for 5 years once ordered.

Joanne took her first plane ride when she was 5 months old. To make things easier on myself, I picked a flight where I knew she would be happy and sleepy. Joanne is happiest in the morning. After 5pm, her mood goes downhill very quickly and she is a lot harder to please. This is why I decided to take a flight that was at 11am. I understand that not everyone has a flexible schedule, so just pick what is best for you and your baby. She woke up at 7, I fed her, let her roll around for a little, and then I put her in her carseat and took her to the airport. She slept in the car (1 hour) and I made sure to feed and change her before we walked into the airport. Having a baby that is rested and fed before entering the airport really helped! By the time we were ready to takeoff, I snuggled her close and gave her a bottle of milk. This put her to sleep and she slept the entire 1.5 hour flight.

Let’s back things up a bit.

Getting Through TSA With Milk:

Like every mother, one of my biggest concerns was feeding her. She eats every 2ish hours and I had both breast milk and formula. Breast milk and formula (powder or liquid) are accepted through TSA. In the diaper bag, I had a few bottles of breast milk (which I knew she’d drink before they expired), and I had the small individual liquid bottles of formula. I also had a container of powder formula packed into my carry on. I placed all my bottles with liquid in a clear bag so it was easy to take out. Security will scan the contents to make sure they’re actually for feeding, but they can’t take them from you. On her second flight, Joanne was only taking formula so I filled her bottles with 6oz of water and kept them in the bag. This way, all I had to do was scoop the powder into the bottle and I didn’t have to worry about finding water. They got through security without any issues. Normally, you can’t take over 4oz of liquid through TSA, but I had no problem with the 6oz bottles of water because they were in her bottles. Also, if you’re traveling with a breast pump, you can take it through TSA in your carry on/diaper bag and it doesn’t have to be checked. Check your local airport, but some airports even have breastfeeding rooms. We used the breastfeeding room in Charlotte and it was wonderful!

Before Boarding:

While we were waiting at the gate, I put a blanket on the floor and let Joanne roll around and play. I wanted her to stretch and be stimulated as much as possible because I knew we’d be confined for the flight. Right before boarding, I changed her in the bathroom and got her diaper bag situated with everything I’d possibly need. Her diaper bag would be under the seat in front of me, so anything that I needed easy access to had to be in that bag and not my carry on bag that was going to be stowed in the overhead bin. The good thing about traveling with little ones is that you get to board the plane in the beginning! If they don’t announce “parents will small children” over the loudspeaker while boarding, just go up and ask.

Strollers and Carseats:

Let’s talk about car seats and strollers because this was a really popular question. You can check your stroller/carseat at the gate for FREE. If your carseat is separate from your stroller, both of them can be checked at the gate for free. Ours connects, so we collapse it as one piece. All you have to do is see the person at the desk once you get to your gate and ask them for a tag. They will ask you if you need one or two tags (depending if your carseat and stroller are separate). Once your stroller/carseat is tagged, you just leave it at the end of the terminal right before you get on the plane. Someone will be there to store it under the plane and you will get everything back as soon as you step off the plane. This helped me so much while traveling solo because I could push Joanne in her stroller through the airport, and then get her stroller/carseat easily to our next destination without paying a dime. If you don’t want to bring your carseat, you can always rent one from local car companies as well.

Baby On Plane:

While boarding the plane with Joanne, I like to push her in her stroller to the end of the terminal. After I drop off the stroller, I snuggle her into the baby sling so I can get on the plane hands free. The great thing about flying with a baby is that people are always willing to help. The flight attendants can get you warm water if you need it for formula or find you a seat with an empty seat beside you for more room. Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for anything you may need. The worst they can do is say no.

I don’t know where I read this, but feeding a baby during takeoff can help ease the pressure in their ears. I have no idea if this is true, but I always aim to feed Joanne while we’re taking off and she’s never had any issues with her ears bothering her. It also betters my chance of her falling asleep. When we’re at home, I don’t like putting Joanne to sleep with milk, but when we’re flying, I LET IT GO. Flying with a baby is not my time to be super mom, HA! I would much rather her stay quiet and sleep on a flight rather than stress about my parenting choices and disturb everyone around me. She is more likely to fall asleep if I give her milk, so that’s what I’m going to do.

If you need to change your baby during the flight, there are changing tables in the bathrooms. They’re typically on the wall behind the toilet.

Airport Essentials:

  • Baby Sling or Carrier – This is great if you’re traveling solo. It keeps your hands free when you’re trying to get on the plane/get through security.
  • Collapsable Stroller – This is what we use and it travels well. The carseat attaches easily and we’ve never had any problems getting it from one destination to the next.

I hope this post wasn’t too scattered and it brought you some peace if you’re flying with a little one in the future! If I didn’t answer something and you want to see more information about flying, let me know and I will see if I can share based on our experiences! Like the last post, I’m going to leave some of my product recommendations.

Road Trips With Babies

When I began writing about traveling with babies, I thought it would take one hour tops and I’d have all the information included in one post. However, I spent 2 hours writing while Joanne was napping and I realized that I had so much to say! I may not be the most experienced traveler with a baby, but I had a lot of suggestions and recommendations. I had questions about road trips and airplanes and getting baby gear from one place to the next, so instead of writing one long post with an overwhelming amount of information, I decided to break it up into two separate ones. The first one will cover our road trip experiences and the second one will cover our airplane experiences. I hope you enjoy!

Before Joanne was born, Taylor and I decided that we were going to immerse Joanne into our busy lives 100%. We didn’t want to adjust our lives to fit her, but instead, we wanted her to adjust her life to fit ours (as much as a baby can that is). This isn’t for everyone, but it was really important for us to have her acclimated to a busy and well-traveled life. Taylor and I are constantly traveling or doing something, so we wanted to make that as easy as possible for our baby. This meant Joanne had to be good at sleeping on the go.

During the past 9 months, Joanne has changed a lot and we’ve had to adjust the ways we travel to work for everyone. This post is just going to be the things we do and the tips we have for anyone looking to travel with a baby. Again, I’m not an expert and we’ve been limited with our travel due to the pandemic, but I’ll share what I know.

Also, this entire post is based on our experiences ONLY. Joanne has been a great baby from the beginning and this is all based on our experiences with her.

ROAD TRIP TIPS & TRICKS

The first thing I can recommend to anyone taking a road trip with a baby, is to travel while your baby is asleep. The younger they are, the more they sleep and the less they need entertained. When Joanne was still a newborn (probably 3 weeks old), we went to the beach. It was a 3 hour road trip, and her first long car ride. I think this is one of the best times to road trip with a baby. Newborns eat, sleep, and poop, so a car ride isn’t nearly as awful as you may think. She also didn’t hate the car seat. Around this time, her naps were frequent and she was eating every 2 hours. We chose to leave early in the morning after she’d already eaten and had her first wake window. We loaded her in her carseat as soon as she was ready to take her first nap and she slept most of the ride. When she woke up, we stopped so I could feed and change her. Then, we hit the road again and finished our drive. This never negatively affected her nighttime sleep either. We’ve traveled to and from the beach several times in the past 9 months and we always leave when she’s ready to nap.

We took our next road trip when she was 1.5 months old from South Carolina to Pennsylvania (10 hours). One of the best things we did during this road trip was leave before she woke up for the day. We had the car packed and ready to go the night before, so all we had to do was get in and go. Joanne was getting up for a feed around 3 or 4 in the morning at this age, so we decided to leave whenever she got up for her middle of the night feeding. When she got up we fed her like we normally would, kept her in her pajamas, snuggled her into her carseat, and started driving. We were able to drive 4 hours before she even woke up for the day! This is the best thing you can do when traveling with a baby on a long road trip. You could even do the opposite and travel at night! The key is to spend the most time driving while baby is naturally ready to sleep. Now that Joanne is older, she’s harder to travel long distance with in the car. We leave as early as possible, but she needs more entertaining and she takes fewer naps.

When we pack the car, I like to make sure there’s plenty of room in the backseat and in between the center consul. I like having easy access to Joanne if needed. Sometimes, she just wants me to sit and entertain her. Also, an overstuffed vehicle stresses me out. Going off of this, I think it really helps to have your diaper bag with anything you may need readily available. You don’t want to dig around looking for something when your baby is screaming and you’re flying down the highway.

If you’re feeding your baby formula, you can fill some bottles up with water before leaving. All you’ll have to do is add the powder and mix!

We try not to travel with her on long road trips anymore, but when we do, we have to allow more time or leave even earlier. The last thing I can suggest when traveling by car with a baby, is to give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. If the GPS says it’s going to take 8 hours to get there, tack on an extra 2 hours. Your baby is going to need fed, changed, and time to wiggle. Sometimes, your baby will have a meltdown or a blowout you weren’t anticipating, which will take more time. Babies can sense stress, so if you’re stressed about arriving somewhere at a specific time, they’ll sense your anxiousness. The more easygoing the trip, the better.

Positives & Negatives to Road Trips With a Baby

  • Positive: One of the benefits to traveling by car with a baby is that you can take all their stuff. You can take the pack-and-play, carseat, toys, bottles, whatever they need.
  • Negative: It takes longer and there’s a lot of time spent in a carseat.

Road Trip Essentials:

  • Mirrors – These are amazing because you can see your baby at all times. She likes to look at herself too!
  • Portable Sound Machine This is our MUST HAVE baby item. When people are expecting and they ask us what to get, I always suggest this! Joanne always sleeps with a sound machine and this one is amazing for travel. It holds a charge for like 12 hours! We hang it on her carseat when we’re in the car and we put it around her pack-and-play when she’s sleeping at night. We have the Hatch at home and adore it in the nursery, but it’s bigger and has to be plugged in, so I don’t recommend it for road trips.
  • Portable Baby Dome – With summer coming up, I thought this was a good recommendation for anyone traveling to the beach with a baby. We went to the beach when Joanne was 3 weeks old and we loved using this! It’s breathable, shaded, and has UV protection. You can attach a portable fan to it too!

I think we’re at a point where we can travel easily with Joanne in the car, but I want you to know that this was all a learning experience. Not every car ride is happy and easy. We’ve experienced our moments of screaming and stress, and we’ve used those moments to reevaluate what’s working and what doesn’t. This is what’s worked for us during the past 9 months, but you’ll need to adjust according to your own baby’s needs. Every baby is different, and just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, your baby’s needs change and you readjust. I will say, the more you travel by car, the more flexible your baby becomes. Babies thrive on consistency, so anything that’s out of rhythm can really throw them off. If your baby is use to traveling in the car, it won’t be new and scary and they’ll know what’s happening.

What are your tips and tricks for traveling with little ones in the car?

Let me know what you want to hear about in my next post, all about flying with babies!

Living in China Q&A

Good Morning!

A few weeks ago Taylor and I asked our friends and family via social media what questions they had about living in China as expats. Today, we’re excited to answer your questions and share a little bit of our journey! I hope you enjoy this little Q&A just as much as we do.

What are the seasons like in China and when do they take place? This answer is based off our home city of Nanjing, which is located in the southeast part of the country. Obviously, the weather varies depending where you’re located. It was extremely hot and humid between June and September. Although it was still warm in October, it wasn’t nearly as humid. There wasn’t much of a cool fall. Winter arrived in November and has just about ended now that it’s March. The seasons are pretty comparable to the Carolinas in America.2

How do you get around from place to place? Since we don’t have a car or scooter, we have a couple options based on where we’re going. For further destinations, we take the high speed trains/planes. For shorter distances, we can walk (we walk A LOT), bike on the city bikes, take the subway, or take a DiDi (Chinese Uber). Living in a massive city means that we don’t need a car of our own, which is surprisingly nice. It forces us to get up and move. Adventures on the Rocky Trail

How hard is it being away from your one and only amazing sister? All jokes aside, being away from family and friends is one of the toughest things about living abroad. Surprisingly, we see them/talk to them more now though! Isn’t that crazy?3

What do you eat? Thankfully, Nanjing is a massive city that has a ton of western restaurants we can eat at weekly! One of our goals this year is to start cooking meals in our apartment to save more money. However, we don’t have an oven, so I’m trying to get creative. 🙂 1

What type of Chinese food do you like? Authentic Chinese food can be scary, because it’s massively different than American Chinese. You can’t walk into a restaurant and find sweet and sour chicken with a side of fried rice (at least I haven’t). Typically, we stick with white rice and vegetables because it’s safe. We like to eat dumplings, sautéed cauliflower, spicy green beans, garlic crawfish, and pineapple rice! We stick with what we know. Surprisingly, Taylor is a lot more adventurous when it comes to trying new food.Untitled design-8

How do you afford all the traveling you do? We get asked this a lot, and there are a few ways we can afford traveling so often. First, living in China eliminates all the expenses we would typically have in America. The only bills we’re responsible for are my student loans and half of our phone bill. What a blessing this is!! Taylor’s employer covers everything else. Second, traveling is something we both love to do, therefore it’s a priority in our lives. We don’t buy a lot of fancy things and I like to think we live a somewhat minimalistic life. When we do travel, Taylor spends hours finding the best deals and doing a ton of research before we commit. Watch all my travel vlos at reallygreatsite.com

What is your favorite thing about China? Ashley: I know this is going to sound odd, but the freedom we have living in China is unmatched. When we were living in America, we worked our butts off and were drowning in expenses, family, and married life. Now, we’re able to save more money, spend quality time together, see our family more than ever, and we travel often. Taylor: My favorite thing is the ability to live in a culture where things are different. I also enjoy the trains, and being able to pay for everything through my phone. WeChat is huge here! created by dji camera

What is your least favorite thing about China? Ashley: My least favorite thing is the toilets. I don’t like having to squat out in public AND bring my own toilette paper. Taylor: Not being able to attend all the Clemson Tiger football games is brutal! It’s also really difficult to watch all the games because of the time difference. Some nights, I sleep on the couch and wake up at 3am for kickoff.2

What do you miss most about the US, outside of your family/friends/puppy? Ashley: I miss having a full kitchen, speaking the language, and getting my hair done. 🙂 Taylor: I miss being able to drive my own car!

How do you budget all your travels? Like I said above, traveling is a priority for us. We have a separate bank account that holds all our travel funds. We’ve been given random time off since living in China, so it helps to have something saved and ready to go.1

Do you miss being settled in one place? I definitely miss being settled. I like to tell myself that we live part-time between America and China. Living all over the place doesn’t fade Taylor in the slightest. LOL

How much of a culture shock was there when you first arrived? If you haven’t read my very first China blog post, you should go read it (linked here). I HATED being here and wanted to leave immediately. My anxiety was through the roof and I never ever want to experience a week like that ever again in my life. It just goes to prove that prayer is POWERFUL. My heart has steadied and I am enjoying our crazy life. There are so many big and small differences between western and eastern culture. I think I’m going to write a post about all the good and bad differences.IMG_1267.jpg

What’s your day-to-day like? Normally, Taylor works Wednesday through Sunday. He goes into the office around 10am and leaves by 5pm. Sometimes I’ll go in with him and read, blog, or workout. After he’s done, we usually eat dinner with friends and just hangout around the city. This all changes depending on games and holidays of course.

What’s been the hardest thing to get used to? Ashley: Being a minority is a lot harder than I expected. I can’t speak the language and I stick out like a sore thumb. I’m going to start seriously learning the language. I think this will help me feel more at home. Taylor: The language barrier is sometimes difficult. I’m used to being able to communicate with everyone whenever I want.Adventures on the Rocky Trail-2

I hope this little Q&A gave you a better idea of our lives here in China! If you want me to write another one of these in the future, comment down below! I had a blast writing this. ❤

Mystery Christmas Box Exchange

Good Morning!

There’s 14 days until Christmas, and I’m trying to squeeze in all the Christmas blog posts I can! If you haven’t read any of my other posts so far, check them out! I wrote about the Christmas festivities in Philadelphia, and even wrote not one BUT TWO gift guides for the travel lovers in your life. If you need some last minute gift ideas, my gift guides would be perfect.

Anyway, back to today’s post!

Back in the fall, my fellow Christmas-loving friend Marissa and I were talking about how much we adore Christmas time and came up with a fantastic idea. A mystery Christmas box exchange! The goal was to each fill a box with Christmas goodies that the other person would enjoy, and then exchange them. Marissa just posted a video of her box on her YouTube channel (hello vlogmas!), so you can check her out here!! If you love all things Christmas and fitness, then you’ll love her channel. Make sure you watch and see what I stuffed her box with. 🙂

Here’s a sneak peak of her box! 🙂

IMG_5074

I had so much fun opening the Mystery Christmas box Marissa gifted me! It felt like Christmas came early! Before she filled my box, I told her my Christmas style was all things cozy and warm. She nailed it! The first thing she added to my Christmas box were two Bath and Body Works candles! She got me the Tis’ the Season and Blue Berry Sugar scented ones! So Christmasy! 🙂

IMG_5630IMG_5620IMG_5635

Next, she gifted me an ADORABLE Christmas mug along with a Starbucks gift card. Along with being a Christmas enthusiast, I’m a coffee enthusiast.

IMG_5613IMG_5609

Following along with the cozy theme, she added a pajama set and fluffy socks. I wish you could feel the pajamas through the screen because they are unbelievably soft.

DSC_6010-2DSC_6013-2IMG_5492.jpg

Marissa also added some festive red nail polish! Every woman needs red nail polish, especially during the Christmas season. The color was Big Apple Red!

IMG_5639IMG_5636

This was such a fun and unique spin on getting into the Christmas spirit! If you LOVE Christmas as much as we do, I’d recommend doing this mystery box exchange with your friends too! It’s so simple. All you have to do is set a price limit and a theme (ours was all things Christmas) and start shopping! The items in my Christmas box would also make fantastic gift ideas for any woman in your life.

I hope you enjoyed another festive post here on A World of Crazy! Make sure you check out Marissa’s YouTube channel to see the Mystery Box I gifted her, and subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any upcoming adventures. 😉 xoxo

Marissa’s Channel: HERE

Mystery Box Exchange: HERE

Gift Guide for the Traveling Man

HO HO HO!!

I’m back with another gift guide! This time, it’s for the traveling man in your life! I had a lot of fun creating my last guide, so I really wanted to create another one. I think we all have a guy in our life who loves all things adventure, so any of these gifts would be perfect. Like my last guide, I’ve suggested a wide variety of items with different price ranges. I hope you enjoy!

GAdd subheading

  1. Taylor swears by his zip-off pants. I know they may not be the most stylish for everyone, but he adores his. They’re perfect for long days of traveling when you’re not sure what the temperature will be throughout the day. They’re also perfect for visiting temples and other conservative places that require pants when it’s super hot out!
  2. A leather toiletry bag is a great gift idea because it’s practical. Just about everyone travels with toiletries, so it’s nice to have a bag to keep things organized.
  3. This is one of the more expensive items on the list, but they’ll get plenty of use! Taylor purchased the Sony WH-1000XM2 awhile ago and uses them almost every day. Something neat about these Sony headphones is the noise canceling feature, which is perfect for airplanes. You literally can’t hear anything when wearing them.
  4. Continuing with the leather trend, a leather luggage tag!! It’s classy and practical. I think it would be super cute to have it monogramed too!
  5. A Rick Stevens book is PERFECT if you know where they’re headed next! Rick Stevens is known for his travel knowledge, and you can always find the best information about any destination. This is great for someone who loves learning about new places too.
  6. A cozy beanie is always stylish and easy to travel with. You can never have too many hats!
  7. Taylor and I carry our whole lives in our passport wallet. We got ours on Amazon several years ago and it will be with us forever. It holds all our important documents, cards, keys, etc. When you travel internationally, you have lots of items that need to be brought along, and this makes things easy and functional.
  8. Backpacks make a great gift for any guy in your life! I’m pretty sure Taylor has a backpack for every occasion, and his traveling one has been to a lot of cool places. Backpacks allow you to keep your hands free. They also fit under the seat on most airplanes, classifying them as “personal items” on any airline.
  9. Rain jackets are those things you should pack for every trip, but never remember. This would make a wonderful Christmas gift. There’s nothing worse than wanting to explore a new place, but having no protection from the rain.
  10. A water bottle that can keep your beverage hot or cold is great for traveling! They’re easy to throw in that backpack too. 😉

I think men can be so difficult to shop for sometimes. I also hate looking up “great gifts for men” online and finding random stuff that nobody in my family would like. You can find the weirdest suggestions sometimes! I really think the gifts I mentioned are useful and would be greatly appreciated by any man in your life that loves traveling. xoxo

Gift Guide for The Traveling Woman

I love this time of year!! The weather is cooler, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and everyone seems to be in the Christmas spirit. Can you believe Christmas is only 42 days away?! Personally, I’m a Christmas enthusiast, which means I’ve been celebrating since October. With that being said, I’ve made my lists, checked them twice, and have been on the hunt for the perfect Christmas gifts for friends and family.

When I was making my own Christmas list, I realized that I had a lot of useful items for traveling! That’s when I thought to myself, why not make a Gift Guide for the Traveling woman? The list I’ve created has a variety of items that work well for stocking stuffers, or a nice gift wrapped under the tree. I also tried to keep things reasonably priced. These gifts are perfect for anyone who enjoys traveling frequently, or for the woman who is counting down the days until her next vacation! Either way, they make my life easier when traveling the world, so I know they’ll be useful to you as well.

GAdd subheading

  1. You can’t go wrong with a big blanket scarf, especially during this time of year! I love this item because it’s has multiple uses when traveling. You can wear it around your neck to stay warm, or you can use it as a nice blanket on the plane. Most long-haul airlines provide you with a blanket, but they tend to be small and low quality. A blanket scarf is easy to throw in your carry on bag and you’re good to go!
  2. A portable charger is a fantastic stocking stuffer for a traveling woman. You never know when you’ll need to charge your phone! Have a delayed flight and nowhere to plug in your phone? Now you do with this portable charger! You can never have too many of these.
  3. An adaptor can be super overlooked when packing! This is essential if you’re leaving the country. I don’t know about you, but when I first traveled out of America I didn’t know that the outlets were different! These adaptors will plug into any outlet in various countries so you can charge your devices. Thank me later on this one.
  4. Chapstick is such a simple, but highly desired stocking stuffer! My lips always get dry and chapped when I’m sitting on a long flight.
  5. A Kindle is the most expensive item on my Gift Guide, but totally worth it for any traveling bookworms on your list! A lot of people like to take a few books with them on vacation. I’m the same, but I hated carrying around books and wasting space in my carry-on luggage. Buying a Kindle revolutionized that for me! It’s also cheaper to buy books for your Kindle rather than a hard copy.
  6. A nice water bottle! You can’t get through security with it full, but you can fill it up once you’re through! A lot of airports have a built in filtration system now. It’s super easy to become dehydrated during a long flight, so you can ask your flight attendants to fill it up for you.
  7. A fuzzy sherpa pullover! These are all the rage right now, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t desperately want this for Christmas. This makes it easy to bundle up and stay warm while traveling. It’s a perfect layering piece!
  8. Can you tell I like all things warm and cozy? I love a good pair of fuzzy socks when I’m stuck on a plane or in a car. I feel so much more relaxed when I take my shoes off!
  9. Knockarounds are my favorite sunglasses! They’re very reasonably priced and amazing quality. These are the only sunglasses I wear! Sunglasses can break during travel, so you don’t want to take any that are super expensive.

I hope this Gift Guide gave you some inspiration for your upcoming Christmas shopping! I know I’d love any of these items under my tree! ❤ If you want to see a male version, I can have Taylor make one!