Setting Our Sights Overseas

I have traveled a lot with baby in his short life. We’ve gone by land, air, and sea, but to this point, it’s all been domestic. But baby and momma are about to change that.

First, we have a wonderful opportunity to go visit my parents in Chamonix, France. It’s a lovely little ski town in the French Alps, nestled pretty much at the base of Mont Blanc, that’s overrun with Brits (in a good way) and brimming with cozy restaurants, delectable food shops, and beautiful baby boutiques. But getting there requires a little extra work.

Of course, there’s the issue of the passport. Infants need a passport to travel overseas. I found that the best–best meaning very economical–place to get said passport photos is Costco. It was never on my radar until the hubster and I went to go pick out a new TV (and second car seat, as it turned out) that I figured out that, for less than $5, I could get baby’s photo taken to the correct specifications.

But the actual passport application process was very stressful for me for some reason. First off, I didn’t realize that when applying for a passport for a minor (<16 years old), both parents have to be present, with the baby, when the application is submitted. So, of course, getting the passport taken care of became a last-minute, yet time-consuming errand to squeeze in before hubster went off to some pre-deployment training.

And in D.C., because I wasn’t leaving in less than two weeks, I had to make my way down to the Notary and Authentications Office, which is conveniently only open from 9am-1pm. To start off, on the one day that we could go, the federal government had a two-hour snow delay. So, it was going to be a flip of the coin as to whether the office was empty or packed. Fortunately, it was only moderately busy when we arrived.

However, I became very nervous very quickly about the application submission process because, as the lone man manning the office reminded us, the office only accepted applications and verified identifying documents, they did not guarantee that the application was filled out correctly. I was feeling totally frazzled as I kept looking over our documents, hearing in the background the lone man telling everyone as he or she came to the counter that s/he was missing some sort of documentation or had the wrong documentation. I was sure we were missing something. But we paid our expedited fee and left, my only consolation being that if the application was rejected, I would still have time to go downtown to the emergency passport office and get a last minute passport, if necessary.

International Man of Mystery

Low and behold, less than two weeks later, a package arrived with baby’s passport. Several days later, his birth certificate (you have to submit the original document along with the application) came back to us. I had been worried about that, too.

But now that baby and momma are both properly documented for international travel, I’ve started to think beyond Chamonix. Second on our travel agenda is a baby-momma cruise to somewhere warm. I’ve got nothing planned as of yet, but the idea of on-board daycare sounds amazing. Now we just need some friends to join us.

But being as that I have never been on a cruise–I just don’t think of myself as a cruising kind of traveler–I think I have a lot to learn about not only cruising with baby but cruising in general. Fortunately, a mommy-friend forwarded me this great article, “Baby on Board? The ABCs of Cruising with an Infant or Toddler.” It truly is a great primer on the perks and pitfalls of cruising with baby in tow.  My favorite tips?

Diapers not allowed: If you’re cruising to a warm weather destination, you’ll be expecting to take your little one into the ship’s pool. However, all cruise lines except Disney Cruise Line do not allow diapers or swim diapers in their pools in accordance with Center for Disease Control’s sanitary codes. On the Disney Magic, the Mickey pool has a separate filtration system in its “ears.” Thus non-potty trained children are allowed in this area since it can be easily emptied, cleaned and filled if there is a diaper accident. On the Disney Wonder, toddlers can enjoy Mickey’s Splash Zone, a 385-square-foot play area with interactive fountains.

Verandahs: While verandahs cost more, they are well worth it if you have a baby or toddler who naps daily. While your little one is napping inside, you can sit on the balcony and catch some sea breezes and sunshine. This beats being stuck inside a dark cabin on a glorious day at sea. Prices for verandahs vary greatly, depending on the cruise line, length of itinerary, and ship (newer ships tend to get higher rates than older ships in the same fleet). For example, Carnival’s Conquest Class ships — the newest in the fleet — charges $679 per person for a cabin with an ocean view (but no verandah). The same ship on the same sailing charges $150 more per person for a verandah cabin.

Baby baths: Most ships only have bathtubs — the preferred way to bathe an infant or toddler — in their most expensive categories of cabins and suites. Hence, chances are that you will have to hold your baby in your arms and have your spouse use the hand held shower nozzle to bathe your child. Alternatively, Disney ships have bathtubs in all cabins.

Seriously, I don’t think I would’ve ever realized the diaper thing or even thought about the added convenience of an in-room bathtub. But for as much as it’ll be a learning experience, I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic getaway for some babes with their babes.

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2 Comments

Filed under babies, baby travel, infants, moms, travel

2 responses to “Setting Our Sights Overseas

  1. The bathtub thing was one lesson we learned the hard way over Christmas. Not one of the three hotels we stayed in on our trip had a bathtub. In Prague, we made do with an extra large sink, and, at one point (I can’t believe I’m admitting this), a bidet (I was mostly washing his poopy butt after all!). But mostly, M’s showers were a family affair, with one parent in the shower, holding the baby, and the other doing the soaping. Very slippery business. For the cruise, an inflatable bathtub is definitely in order. Or this: http://www.flexibath.co.uk/flexibath.html

    The diapers in the pool thing bummed me out. For that feature alone, I’d consider shelling out the extra bucks for a Disney cruise. M and I were in the pool every day we were in Tampa and I really enjoyed that.

    As for the long-haul flight, here’s my bit of unsolicited advice. Bring lots of snacks, for the baby and yourself (dining will be a challenge); avoid toys that roll (balls hit the floor and promptly lodge itself between the feet of the sleeping man seated behind you); request baby food as your special meal (used as a backup to the stash I brought, this saved us during our 16-hour “layover” in Frankfurt); bring lots of bottles (and remember that the water on the plane is not suitable for drinking, and therefore, not suitable for rinsing bottles for reuse); look up airport USOs and playgrounds, the former for its baby-friendly amenities, the latter for energy-burning diversions; board last and let baby crawl around like crazy till the last minute (easier when traveling with a partner who can go ahead and secure prime overhead bin space); and for crying out loud, get the bassinet! It’s a game-changer!

    Finally, do not forget to get a power of attorney from Ian, authorizing you to take the baby out of the country by yourself. I’m having one prepared for us too.

    Otherwise, have fun. Chamonix sounds divine!

    PS. A’s picture is too much! The teeth!

  2. I’ve made do with some sinks as well, but the inflatable tub might have some merit. I think the place my parents have rented has at least one bath tub, though, so we’re safe in that respect. I agree with you on the diapers in the pool thing. We’ll have to do some more research. And yes, I’m totally requesting the bassinet!

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