Thursday, June 3, 2010

Little Grape with a Super-sized Suitcase

I have always excelled at traveling light. Perhaps because I had lots of practice during my formative years. As a kid, I spent a great deal of time schlepping through airports because we routinely visited family overseas. Even before air travel morphed into the enormous hassle it is today, my father had declared war on checked luggage. We went to Italy for weeks with carry on bags that barely squished into the overhead bins; my brother and I hauled our own Snoopy back packs before graduating preschool.

During my student days, I spent months backpacking without having to jettison anything to make room for souvenirs. I didn't have the best hair or cleanest clothes on Eurail, but I don't think I sustained permanent spinal injury that summer, either. Later, I could swing a three day business trip or weekend with a small bag on wheels, if I sacrificed work out wear for the privilege of a smooth jaunt through the airport.

That was all before The Grape.

Now, as the clock ticks down to our first international journey as a family, I am losing sleep over the sheer volume of luggage necessitated by a long weekend. Let alone a full-on, two-week trip. It's daunting, of course, but more than that, it's viscerally embarrassing to me to have more luggage than I can manage unassisted. Rationally or not, I view needing to ask for help with my bags as a mark of grave personal failure.

I'm learning that the size of the suitcase seems inversely proportionate to the size of its owner. I know from experience that it's possible to travel light with kids. But does that possibility extend to travel with a baby?

The Grape, like any infant, needs clothes. Lots of them, because it's a virtual certainty that he will yack all over himself if I don't pack a back up outfit. If he doesn't have a back up, back up outfit, the airline will inevitably lose our luggage. And I need a back up outfit. In case he yacks all over me instead of all over himself as soon as the wheels leave the ground.

Changing pads and gallons of hand sanitizer, to prevent us from coming in contact with insidious germs that could destroy the entire vacation. I was never germ phobic before, but the only thing worse than having a sick infant at home is having a sick infant in a hotel room.

He needs toys. A couple of sleep sacks. A jacket. Bibs. Bottles. Small spoons. Snacks. A little tent, multiple hats and a vat of lotion to fend off sunburn. Swim diapers for the pool. A life jacket for the boat. And diapers, because if I don't pack them, the nearest seven stores won't have the correct size. Ditto for formula. Should we bring his own laundry soap? Or bath stuff? Maybe he should have a book or two. The Ergo carrier. R. thinks we ought to purchase a frame back pack, in case The Grape tires of riding in the Ergo.

To say nothing of the stroller. Or maybe strollers, because he hates sitting in the airport-friendly umbrella one, so I'm seriously considering packing and checking the Bugaboo. I guess I ought to bring rain covers for both conveyances. And of course, I'm feeling guilty about leaving the car seat behind, even though taxis are exempt and rental car companies can provide them. That would need its own bag.

While I'm adding yet another bag, someone said the Bumbo seat doubles well as a travel high chair. Someone else said their baby got a rash because the hotel linens were laundered in a harsh kind of soap.

Oh, and I haven't even contemplated what R. and I need to pack for ourselves. The one thing I can predict with certainty is that, at the last minute, when we should be in the cab to Logan, we'll be removing our belongings from overstuffed suitcases to make room for more baby crap.

Another (inane) worry of mine is that, if we indulge The Grape by hauling everything he could possibly ever need on our trip, are we training him by osmosis to become a horrible traveler? I don't want to be the woman who raises a kid who believes it's okay to check luggage in order to bring six wardrobe changes for a two day junket. Or the entire contents of the bathroom cabinet. Or his own pillow for the plane. Or, God forbid, a child who requires an entourage of porters and bell hops at both ends of the journey. But I digress.

I fret that I'll never again sail through an airport. Someone, say it isn't so. What secret of luggage space allocation am I, as a baby-travel rookie, missing? Please, please tell me - time is ticking and we've booked nonrefundable airfare.

No comments:

Post a Comment