As a new parent, the idea of travelling with your baby can be worrisome. You may wonder how your babe will sleep away from home and how you'll manage without all the everyday baby gear. You may be tempted to pack as much of baby's gear as you can. After all, most airplanes don't charge you for bringing strollers, playpens, and carseats and if you're travelling by car, you certainly stuff loads of baby's items in your trunk.
On my first trip away with my oldest son at 6 weeks, I packed disposable change pads and bibs. They proved to be much less convenient than I anticipated because they were cheaply made, offered minimal protection against messes, and were a literal waste of money. By our next trip a few months later, I have purchased good quality, reusable on-the-go gear that was wipeable!
Eco Travel Tips For Families
There is a better way to travel with your small children and it doesn't mean you need to leave your green lifestyle at home. Simple pre-trip preparations can help you plan a vacation that’s fun for your family and easier on our planet. Here are my top six eco-travel tips for planning a less stressful and more eco-friendly family holiday.
Bring your favourite stainless steel water bottles, snack containers, zippered snack bags and other reusable on-the-go products for staying hydrated and eating healthy snacks. Packing reusable items helps avoid waste like plastic water bottles, straws, Ziploc bags, and disposable cutlery and reduces the plastic trail your family leaves behind on your trip. It may be tempting to bring disposable sippy cups and bottles but if you wouldn't want your baby to drink from soft plastic at home than this is an easy place to maintain your green values on the go. I never travel without a bottle scrub brush and eco-friendly dish soap to give my green gear a daily clean.
Lighten Up Your Luggage
Whichever transportation method your family chooses to travel by, the weight of your suitcase impacts the amount of fuel burned and carbon emissions released. Simplify your family vacation by packing better. Choose clothes that can withstand multiple days of wear, as a mom to two little boys, I always have a non-toxic stain stick with me for quick stain removal! Pack toiletries that do double duty and are friendly for the whole family like non-toxic 2-in-1 soap & shampoo (I can't stay away from Ella's Botanicals and Graydon for my young family).
Skip The Souvenirs
Forget about loading up your suitcases with soon to be forgotten souvenirs! Use your camera or smartphone to capture family memories by taking pictures at each place you visit including restaurants, parks, and other local attractions. Make it a point to get everyone in the photo (that includes you, mom!) by asking locals to snap a quick shot as a keepsake.
Simplify Your Baby Gear
A baby carrier is my top pick for the only baby gear needed when traveling by an airplane to your destination-it gives you free hands! I'm wearing the Tula Baby Carrier in the picture above. This babywearing article by our chiropractic contributor will show you how to carry baby safely. Simplify your packing and reduce your carbon footprint by renting baby gear at your destination.
Diapering On The Go
Consider packing a small stash of cloth diapers, if you are able to use laundry facilities on your trip. A double pocket wet/dry diaper bag which has space for carrying both wet and dry items, can replace your need for a diaper bag. A typical stash for a half-day outing is 2-4 cloth diapers, 6-8 cloth wipes and a change of clothes for baby. If you’re idea of vacation doesn’t include washing diapers, bring along a pack or two of your favourite eco-disposables (I'm a big fan of Delora and Naty). Don't forget about keeping your baby's messes contained with some sweet little swim diapers.
Book A Better Hotel
Use Green Key Global to search for hotels that will provide you with accommodations that will make you feel right at home with their energy conservation and waste reduction initiatives. Choosing to stay at hotels that make the effort to be better encourages more places to follow their lead.
Hang With The Locals
If you were coming to my hometown of Toronto, I'd definitely recommend you head outdoors on a Saturday morning to our year-round farmers market at Brickworks. You'd experience music, delicious food for brunch by local chefs, and picnic benches full of local Torontonians. Your kids would be able to look for turtles in the pond or chase them around the surrounding trails and hills. Wherever you go, direct some of your spending money into the community by dining at local eateries and visiting their farmer markets.