As I wade through a sea of post vacation laundry, I’m thinking about what I can share with you about my recent vacation in Punta Cana that might help you better prepare for your own future vacations with an infant. I wouldn’t by any means call myself an expert on the subject. As I prepared for my own travels, I read through blogs by women who’s children had been on 30+ flights by the time of their first birthdays. These women were experts on all things packing, jetlag, schedule screw ups, sickness overseas and more, and it definitely put my mind at ease seeing as how I was preparing for a simple all inclusive vacation a mere 4.5 hours away from home.
When I told my friends and family that I was going on vacation with my infant they all said the same thing: “expect a different kind of vacation.” And that it is. Different. But it certainly isn’t worse. I mean, sure, I have no tan, and I’m not as relaxed as I am used to being post vacation, but I do believe that travelling with my child has given me a new appreciation for wanderlust. I got to see the ocean through his eyes for the first time. I got to look up at the palm trees with him and stare in amazement as if I had never seen them before. I got to watch him be shocked by the warmth of the grainy white sand, and the saltiness of the ocean water (which by the way made him wail. The ocean experience was short lived.) By the end of the trip my husband and I were vowing to do our best to show Lucas the world (while he still wants to travel with us lol). All in all, it was easier than everyone made it out to be, and more fulfilling than I ever imagined.
How much you enjoy this vacation comes down to how prepared you are. In an effort to help you prepare, I want to share with you what I brought that was “lifesaving” and what I brought that took up useless space. Below, I do my best to break down my packing list into a few categories: feeding, clothing, entertainment, flight, extras and finally, routine. Here goes nothing.
This for me was the most overwhelming part, and the one that I’ve gotten the most questions about. With my kid on formula and solids, I needed to figure out a way to keep his food contamination free and enjoyable. Here’s what I packed:
2 sippy cups
24 food pouches
dapple baby dish soap
1 tin of baby formula
Travel formula dispenser (side note: I’ve tried about 5 and this is the best one)
10 ready-to-feed bottles (for flights)
Lucas takes 4 bottles a day, so I only had to sanitize his dishes ever two days. Upon arrival we ordered a case of bottled water to the room. Tap water is not safe for drinking in the Dominican Republic, so I boiled bottled water for both formula and sanitizing. I did bring his bottle warmer, but I didn’t use it at all, as I found it too hot to be serving warm formula. He was fine drinking his bottles at room temperature or cooler.
At home I make all of my own purées for Lucas, but on the road it just seemed easier to offer food pouches. I didn’t have to depend on the resort to puree food from the buffet, and I was able to just throw a few pouches in my bag and feed him at the pool or beach. Bonus: I realized just how much money I am saving every week by making him my own food, because honey, this was not cheap in comparison!
TIP: with food pouches and ready to drink formula, you’ll want to test these out on your babe a week or so before you leave. Lucas was fine with the ready to feed formula on the way down, but on the day we were leaving he decided he didn’t like it and wouldn’t drink it. We had to run out to the pharmacy to pick up more powdered formula for him. In hindsight, I probably should have brought extra formula for him just incase.
Clothing and Baby Care:
I 100% overpacked for him. No doubt. But honestly, his clothes take up such little space, so I’m glad I overpacked vs the alternative. Here’s what I brought:
5 burp cloths
5 white undershirts
4 patterend onsies
2 long sleeve linen shirts
4 short jumpers
3 swim suits (this one was my favourite)
2 beach hats (the UPF ones with the neck flap)
1 ball cap
1 pair of sneakers
1 pair of sandals
2 muslin blankets
1 light knit blanket
1 long sleeve undershirt
7 footie pyjamas (the rooms are cold!)
2 cotton pants
4 socks (didn’t use a single pair!)
3 hooded towels
7 wash cloths
Small travel bottle of Ivory Snow
1 hooded/footed fleece jumper for travelling (he somehow kept this clean and I was able to use it both there and back)
50 regular diapers
25 little swimmers
travel change pad
4 packs of baby wipes
Aveno eczema body cream
Thinkbaby sunscreen and sunscreen stick
Tip to Toe baby wash
nail file and nail clippers
OFF! Family Care bug spray
Our first morning, when I got him dressed, I put him right into his bathing suit, imagining that we would eat and go straight into the water. The truth is, the water was cold and he didn’t want to spend much time in there at all. The next day, I dressed him normally and brought his bathing suit along in my bag, so the outfits I had planned to put him in at night, he ended up wearing in during the day. In the evenings, by the time we went for dinner, he was already sleeping for the night (in his stroller. we transferred him into his crib after dinner) so I basically took him for dinner in a onesie and shorts or his pyjamas if it was cool enough outside.
TIP: Get yourself some packing cubes. I bought two sets, and they have honestly changed my packing game.
I must admit that Lucas slept a lot more during this trip than I anticipated. #BLESSED! But for those moments when he wasn’t sleeping and needed some stimulation, here’s what we brought along.
Sassy Ring O’ Links
Sophie (never left the room)
Wubbanub Pacifier (which he takes sporadically, but this also never left the room)
Indestructible beach book (this is the most amazing thing ever!)
iPad with 10 hours of Netflix cartoons
Leapfrog sing and snuggle travel sized Scout
2 books (this one and this one were the smallest I owned)
The ring o links are amazing, and we were able to attach toys to his stroller without worrying about them falling. Also came in handy on the plane as I was able to hook the larger link to my wrist so his toys never fell. Three cheers for silent toys that never touch the ground!!
My husband had anxiety over flying with a baby, but those worries were for nothing because Lucas travelling like a little dream. He took his regular naps on the plane, ate, watched some Peppa Pig, played with his rings and teether, and before we knew it we were off the plane and in the sun. He then slept THE ENTIRE WAY HOME which sounds like a dream, and mostly it was, but I spent the entire flight with a little fire log stretched across my body.
Here’s what was in my diaper bag:
1 pack of wipes
Braun No Touch Thermometer
Tylenol for mom and dad
5 ready to feed bottles
5 empty bottles
3 puree packs
1 summer outfit
1 extra onesie and 1 extra footie pyjama
1 light knit blanket
extra shirt for mom and dad
Toys and 2 books
Sanitizer wipes for surfaces on the plane.
We checked three bags (the baby does get a luggage) and a pack and play, and then we checked our stroller at the gate. I also brought along my baby carrier, which was an essential for airport travel. If you don’t have one and you are planning to travel I suggest you buy or borrow one immediately. I also used the carrier during the bus transfer to and from the hotel. It made me feel a bit better about not having him in a car seat. Is this the safest option? No. A car seat would have been 100% safer. However, you do what you gotta do in other countries. So again, if you aren’t bringing a car seat, BRING A CARRIER!
Now in terms of the pack and play, I know that most hotels offer this, but I really wanted him to have his own. He isn’t sleeping on the lowest level of the pack and play yet, so I wanted to keep him elevated. I also didn’t want him sleeping so close to the cold floor. This is free to bring, if the only other thing you are bringing is a stroller. You can chose two from stroller, car seat, booster seat or playpen, so we brought a stroller and a playpen and I have zero regrets. And of course, whether you are bringing your own pack and play or not, don’t forget your crib sheet. Two is better than one.
I brought a baby beach tent. Waste of space and money. We used it once. The resort had cabanas so this was not needed
I brought a life jacket and he hated it. Used once for 5 minutes.
I brought a pool floatie with canopy and we used this almost every day.
I brought a stroller fan and umbrella and we used them both EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Most stroller fans run on rechargeable batteries so I also brought along a travel charger so I didn’t have to charge it in the room. This ended up being very helpful when the fan decided that it would only run when plugged into power. Crisis Averted!
I brought a bag for the back of my stroller and literally never carried a purse. Best decision ever.
We had a bug net for the stroller which we used every night.
Had some bungee cords so we could attach the floatie to the chairs and it wouldn’t blow away
Toy sanitizer wipes are essential, as are sanitary wipes in general.
I brought a water safe ring sling, and loved having him strapped to me in the pool while having my hands free.
BRING YOUR BABY MONITOR. I hummed and hawed over this, but I am so so so glad I brought it along. Wrap it up in clothing or towels for safe travelling.
Finally, and this is a big one, bring noise cancelling headphones for baby! We used these multiple times per day. I have a pair but I’m not crazy about them, so I’m planning to replace them with these. They came in handy on the plane, at the airport, during naps, and while he was sleeping at dinner.
I got a ton of questions about this. I think people are worried about breaking from routine and then working their asses off when they get home to get your LO back on routine. We held firm to Lucas’ routine and I have zero regrets. I haven’t had to work a stitch of overtime to get him back into his daily groove. When it was time for him to nap, I put him in his stroller, turned his fan on and walked around the grounds with him until he fell asleep. Once he did, I would put the stroller in the shade and he would nap his usual length while my husband and I enjoyed a drink or 4, or got some sun. At night, we would dress him in comfy clothes, sometimes pyjamas, and put him down in his stroller. By the time we got to the restaurant he was sleeping. Before entering the noisy restaurant we would put his noise cancelling headphones on and he would sleep through all the ruckus around him.I can’t recommend these headphones enough. If I had to pick one lifesaver of the trip, THESE ARE IT! Upon returning from dinner, we would perform the delicate transfer routine from stroller to crib. It wasn’t always successful, but even when this woke him up, he was always tired enough to go down pretty easily…with the exception of one rough night.
Expect to have earlier dinners. We found that 7:30pm was our best dinner time based on Lucas’ sleep schedule. This meant being back at the room for 5 to get everyone ready.
Well mama’s, that’s all I got for you.
All in all, it was a successful and memorable trip that gave us memories for a lifetime. We loved the resort! For those interested, we went to Paradisus Palma Real in Punta Cana. On the last day we upgraded to the Reserve Section, which is their premium family section, and made use of the kids pool. This area had tons of cabanas and day beds with ample shade, exceptional service, upgraded beach beds and free transfers to and from the beach. I would definitely recommend the resort, and will 100% be back, as I absolutely LOVE Punta Cana.
Thanks for reading. If you have any more travel questions feel free to ask in the comments below or hit me up on Instagram DM.