Harmony Ryan is the type of girl you want with you for every girls night out, every holiday abroad and any time you need a little bit of energizing in your life. She’s full of life and fun, as well as being mom to two little ones – Xavier, 3 and Phoenix, 1. Harmony and I met in Danish class at university. We had both lived in Denmark on exchange and soon realized we could use Danish to… well… talk about all sorts of stuff without anyone catching on (seriously – how many people know Danish?) We even lived together for a year.
Harmony is an Edmonton resident (originally from Chilliwack!) and she is co-founder of Buddhi Baby. Buddhi Baby offers beautiful curated gift boxes and items for parents and little ones as well as stand alone items. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a Buddhi Baby gift box and loved it.
I knew Harmony had travelled abroad with her newborn, which is something I would find daunting but she did so effortlessly. I was curious to hear her tips and tricks for heading off with such a little baby on an extended adventure.
Read on for her story:
When I was 15, I lived as an exchange student in Denmark for one year. It was my first time travelling alone and my first time being away from family & friends for an extended period of time. I absolutely loved it. Denmark was amazing. Europe was amazing. So amazing that I kept going back. And when I met my husband, he was interested in travelling to Europe so away we went. We vowed we’d be back once we had children to show off baby to our friends abroad, to share a love of travel with our wee one and to experience travelling together as a young family.
So when our son was only 4 months old, off to Europe we went for three weeks of travel to Spain, Italy, Denmark and France. We flew from Edmonton to Madrid with a stopover in London. Next we drove to Barcelona and from there we flew to Venice and then spent a week in Denmark before ending our trip in Paris.
I’m often asked how we made the trip such a success. These are the tips & tricks that helped guide us to and through Europe with a baby in tow…
Tiny tourist. We were quite intentional about taking Xavier at the age we did. He turned 5 months old during our travels and had yet to begin eating solid foods. There was no need to worry about how, where, and what to feed a wee baby in a variety of foreign countries. He was exclusively breastfed, which made it quite easy to find a spot to sit down with him, nurse and enjoy the view.
Sightseeing. Though we were keen to see the sites, we were also two very exhausted new parents. Bus and boat tours were the perfect way to see the sites allowing us the opportunity to sit, relax and take it all in. We could hop on and hop off when we decided there was something worth exploring, if we wanted to stop for something to eat, or just felt the need to stretch our legs.
What to pack? Since we were travelling to many cities in 4 countries and would be taking 7 planes and a variety of other transit, we didn’t want to carry many bags around. We packed one easy to manage rolling suitcase that stayed at our hotel plus one large day use backpack for our camera, diapers & wipes, some snacks and a change of clothes for baby.
Layering. Springtime travel to both the south and northern regions of Europe meant we could experience both cool and warm weather and we packed with that in mind. We were very mindful of packing light and very strategic in layering. For myself I packed:
– 2 pairs of sandals
– 2 tank tops
– 2 pairs of leggings
– 2 dresses
– 1 cardigan
– 1 jacket
– 1 babywearing hoodie
Dresses could be worn with or without leggings, leggings could be pulled up to crops in warmer weather and mixing and matching each piece created many outfits. It should be mentioned that we had the opportunity to wash our clothes once in Denmark because we were staying with friends!
Save space. Though we used cloth diapers, we decided against it for the trip and opted for disposables during our 3 weeks away. Instead of taking up precious space and filling our suitcase with a big bag of bulky diapers, we only packed what was needed for the first few days and purchased more once we arrived.
Just in case. As luck would have it, Xavier experienced his first cold while we were away. Although we packed light, I did save room for some trusted remedies from home in anticipation of him catching a cold, getting an upset stomach and also to help him with his teething pain.
Babywearing! Bringing a stroller to Europe did not seem like a good idea to us. We didn’t want to have to worry about taking it on and off of planes, trains, boats, buses and subways, and worried that some of the places we’d visit might be difficult to navigate in a stroller. Instead, we wore Xavier in and out of museums, up and down the steps of the Eiffel Tower, on and off of transit and during mealtimes.
Our carriers of choice for the trip were a Mei Tei from babyhawk and a Ring Sling. Why? Carriers. They’re like shoes. Different situations call for different carriers. The ring sling is less bulky and great for quick in & outs. So, it was my go-to on days on travel, perfect for the airplane or when we travelled by car and took lunch breaks or quick walks. The Mei Tei is good for longer carries so it was my go-to when we were sightseeing and would be walking around for long periods of time. Both are soft structured carriers so they rolled up and packed away nicely
What about naps? I worried about how we’d deal with naptimes since our plan was to make the most of our time in each city and see as much as possible. Babywearing made naptime a breeze! Xavier would cuddle right in and snooze even longer than he normally would for naps at home. I think both the fresh air and being cuddled and comfy contributed to his great naps and gave us the opportunity to take in the sites while he snoozed.
Where to stay? We mapped out and booked all accommodations prior to leaving Canada. We stayed in hotels that had prime locations but were well priced. When making the decision on where to stay, we chose hotels that included breakfast, provided a crib or playpen and were situated close to a bus or subway stop.
Travel with others! We were lucky to have my brother-in-law and his girlfriend along for the ride. Extra arms to hold baby were such a bonus and we didn’t have to ask strangers to take family photos! We didn’t always spend the entire day together and took a few side trips to other cities apart, but it was nice to make memories with more than just us.
There were some days when I was dreadfully tired from being up various times with baby. There were a few challenges finding a proper place to change a diaper. And there was some initial disappointment in having to miss out on a non-baby friendly outing or two. But in the end, it was a fantastic experience and one we’ll cherish for a lifetime. Although Xavier won’t remember the trip, we have incredible photos to document our adventure. We’re currently in the process of a planning our next European vacation. This time Xavier will be 5 and his little sister will be 3!
A HUGE thank-you to Harmony and her family for sharing their story and their photos!
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