Packing For A Nomadic Lifestyle With Baby In Tow: Experiments With Baby Travel Equipment

Baby luggage

Image by Yukon White Light

Our approach to “stuff” has radically changed since being location independent – and we applied that same mentality to having a baby. We were about the only couple at the Parenting Classes who hadn’t stuffed our house full with every baby gadget known to man.

In fact we didn’t buy a baby bath, a changing mat, a baby monitor and a load more things until our daughter was actually born. This turned out to be a really good approach for us since we were able to choose things as we needed them and based on the experience of knowing exactly what would work once she was here – instead of buying things based on guesswork before she arrived.

We’ve used the same approach to travel so far – and packed the bare minimum, knowing that if we needed anything else, we could very likely buy it on location.

Of the few things we’ve researched and packed, here are some of the items we’ve considered, researched and bought. Having only been on the road for around 3 weeks and with this limited experience to judge things on, I’ll save any reviews for a later date but will promise to update you as & when we’ve been on the road for a bit longer and had chance to thoroughly road-test the items listed…

Travel cot

Koo-di Travel CotWe researched & researched this and decided not to buy those big travel cots which are heavy, bulky and (we decided) just not practical to travel with.

We decided instead to go for a lightweight travel crib (from Koo-di, as pictured) and also considered the Samsonite equivalent and travel bubble.

On the recommendation of numerous people, we have also purchased a UV Travel Centre [aff] – both for use indoors and outdoors. This, we hope, will eventually be used as a bed but can also be taken to the beach/pool and used as a play tent which also protects from the sun.

Key considerations: Weight, comfort, safety, footprint of cot, whether accommodation provide similar.

Baby Bath

If you’re not sure whether there will be a bath or big-enough sink in the place you’ll be staying, then you’re going to need some sort of solution to bath your baby. We decided to purchase a baby bath once we arrived (in fact, my parents are also in Thailand for a couple of months and arrived before us so purchased one before we arrived).

Unfortunately, our daughter’s a pretty big girl for her age (5 months) and in conjunction with the bath support we use, is too long for the bath they bought and others we tried so we’ve actually bought a small paddling pool to use with her bath support which works perfectly.

Key considerations: Size, availability/suitability of existing facilities.

Strollers/Car Seats/Slings

City Baby Jogger StrollerStroller: Having started out with a Quinny Zap buggy + Maxi Cosi car seat, we traded it in (sold it on ebay) for a City Jogger which we’ve been exceptionally happy with (it reclines almost fully, has an excellent rain/sunshade, is light, comfortable to push and folds away with one hand). We’ve brought this with us and the only thing we’d change is to get it in a different colour (we got black) so it doesn’t absorb the heat so much – not a consideration when we were in the UK!

Car Seat: In many countries, the laws aren’t as strict about using rear-facing baby car seats as in the UK but there’s ever been any question about whether we use one or not. We brought our existing car seat with us and, as per much of the advice you’ll read, opted to take it hand luggage rather than check it in. We have however left this one in Dubai and purchased a new one in Thailand since it’s likely to be a place we’ll be coming back to every year and can store it somewhere when we leave.

Slings: We brought our Baby Björn sling with us and also carried it on the plane with us; this was an excellent decision (we almost didn’t!) since the buggy which we left at the airplane door didn’t meet us there at the other end in Dubai and we’d have had to carry our 8-9kg daughter on the 20m bus ride to the terminal, along the miles of walkways at the new terminal in Dubai and for the 45m+ wait at immigration.

Key considerations: Weight, suitability for climate, safety, whether to check in or carry on.

Clothing

We’ve taken a few weekend trips with our daughter prior to hitting the road for good; each time we’ve over-packed in the clothes department, largely for “just in case” scenarios. We’d probably still do this if she were a little younger and nappy accidents/leakages were still a common feature of daily life but since this happens less frequently, we’ve brought 3-4 of each main type of outfit (i.e. short-sleeve/no legs babygro’s, long-sleeved/long-legged babygro’s for cold plane journeys). A consideration here is whether you’ll have easy access to a washing machine or not.

Key considerations: Climate, availability of clothing on location, growth/development stage, access to washing machine.

Toiletries

No matter where you are, you’ll probably be able to get most of the basic baby care toiletries and supplies. If however, there are specific brands/products you use then you will probably want to consider taking your own supply with you. For example, we use organic skincare products on our daughter’s skin and I was pretty certain you couldn’t get these in Thailand (you can’t), so we’ve bought a 3 month supply with us. Of course if we run out, we’ll use what we can get but it’s nice to primarily use our chosen products 90% of the time.

Key considerations: Availability on location.

Toys

Lamaze ToyOur daughter’s only really just getting into favourite toys and showing a preference for certain ones, so we’ve brought along the ones she likes and is familiar with to ensure a bit of continuity. This includes her playmat off of which we can hang existing & new toys we buy.

For the most part however, we’ll buy toys & play things on the road wherever we are. As with our previous approach to on-the-road purchases, anything we don’t want to carry with us when we leave, we’ll donate/pass on to locals, a hospital or an orphanage.

Key considerations: Availability on location, familiarity, stimulation/development stage.

Other Equipment

While we’re here, we’ll need to wean our daughter. In the UK, this would be easy (well, relatively speaking!) – we know we can get all the equipment we need, the organic food/baby food and anything else which might help make this process simpler. In Thailand, I had no idea what we could & couldn’t get – although fortunately I could get my parents to go on a reccie and find out before we left – so I bought some of the basics with us and will keep our fingers crossed that we can get the rest!

We’ve already learned a lot about some of the decisions we made and equipment we chose so I’ll update you on these in a future post – but for now, the best tip I can give is this…

Before you hit the road for good, a useful experiment to conduct is to spend a few days away from home at a relative’s or somewhere and see how you cope. You’ll be amazed at how many things you can do without or how much you can improvise when you have to.

Of course, when you’re staying somewhere for a few months at a time, you won’t necessarily want to “make do” but it’s a good attitude to have for the first few days until you get kitted up with everything you need.

2 Responses to Packing For A Nomadic Lifestyle With Baby In Tow: Experiments With Baby Travel Equipment

  1. Julie

    December 21, 2009 | 3:13 am

    Leah-

    You may already be aware of this site, but I just learned about http://www.kidsflysafe.com after seeing a dad with his two kids on a plane yesterday who’d bought them special seat safety belts. Mali may be too young for this (I haven’t checked the age requirements and the man’s children were 3 and 4), but it might be worth checking into for the future.

  2. Lea Woodward

    December 21, 2009 | 3:24 am

    Thanks Julie – I think I have it bookmarked but will check it out…

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