France Trip and traveling abroad with a 6 month old

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My first post on the new Eileen and Co. website is a good one. Here comes a big fat recap of the France trip we took this spring!

Luke works for a company that is headquartered in France and he takes trips over there pretty frequently. He had a trip for a 3 day conference planned this past spring and we decided that Wren and I would tag along. Were we crazy taking a 6 month old on an overnight 9 hour flight followed by multiple train rides? Maybe. 

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We left on a Sunday morning and flew overnight to Paris Sunday night, arriving at midnight our time but 6 AM local time Monday morning. We then took a few trains headed to the south of France for Luke's conference for a few days. We rented an AirBnB flat for the conference and then we had a train lined up to come back to Paris for a few days before flying home the next Sunday. 

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I'm going to do a little recap of our trip and then round up what we traveled with for us and Wren. We took one checked bag and carried on 2 small backpacks (one for us and one for Luke's work computer) and a duffel we used as a diaper bag. We ended up buying a $15 duffel while we were over there to bring home the clothes we bought for the twins which I had kinda planned on. We didn't bring a stroller or carseat either. I like to travel light and it kinda pained me that we had to do a checked bag at all. 

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Look at how naively excited I am and confident that our 6 month old would handle the flight like a champ. Spoiler: she didn't. Wren is an amazing sleeper at home so I figured she would be fine on the plane but poor baby had the hardest time. She couldn't get to sleep so Luke and I spent 9 hours walking up and down the aisles and trying to catnap when we could. It wasn't pretty. We arrived in Paris at 6 AM local time each having gotten about an hour of sleep the night before. We grabbed our first train at 9 AM and arrived to our AirBnB that afternoon where we promptly showered, grabbed dinner from the local market and went to bed at 8. We both slept pretty well and didn't deal with that much jetlag for the week (probably because we were so tired from not sleeping on the plane we adjusted well to local time.) I did nap during the morning the first couple of days then was fine the rest of the week. 

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We spent the next few days exploring the town we were in, napping and cooking in our little AirBnB. I think having that down time was one of the reasons that Wren did so well in Paris when we got there and were on the go all day. She had the first few days just resting and adjusting to local time. 

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Nutella waffles are my favorite European food group. 

Thursday we headed back up to Paris. We took a train in and Luke had ordered a car service to pick us up at the train station and take us to our hotel. We used this car service and they were great! We communicated with them through text and let them know we needed an infant car seat (they didn't have a 5 point harness seat though).  They arrived promptly and had great service. The drivers speak English as well. We used them again to get to the airport a few days later. We figured that a taxi would have been about $50 and we paid $80 I think for the 40 minute drive which was so worth it to have a guaranteed ride with a car seat that already knew where we were going and took credit cards. They drove us in a really nice Mercedes van which was super comfortable. I did not want to do the metro with a baby and luggage and am very happy with our decision and experience.  

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We stayed at Hotel Jardins d'Eiffel which was recommended by Rick Steves and I highly recommend it. It was super quiet and clean and right around the corner from Rue Cler (the market street) which was super fun. We were also close to the Eiffel and an amazing takeout pizza place was right across the street. My family has loved Rick Steves and his backdoor approach to Europe since I was in high school and his France book was great. We watched a lot of his France shows before the trip and it was a fun way to get excited and learn more about the culture.

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We spent the next couple of days exploring Paris. We got up super early and walked to the Notre Dame and the Louvre at sunrise one morning and it was hands down my favorite part of the trip. No one was out, we had the gardens of the Louvre to ourselves and it was magical. Highly recommend it. We didn't end up going into the Lourve museum, with a 6 month old I figured it was better to keep moving and stay outside. Our goal with this trip was just to explore, eat crepes and macaroons and drink lots of coffee. I think that made the trip much more successful with a 6 month old than if we had tried to see every museum. So we explored, headed back to the room for Wren to nap, explored some more and then ate dinner in bed from the best takeout Italian and Greek places around the corner from our hotel. 

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Sunrise at the Lourve gardens. This place is crawling with people most of day but we were were some of the only ones here early in the morning. Top experience for sure!

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Overall it was a such a fun trip. The flights there and back were NOT FUN but totally worth it. I did so much research before we left about how to travel with a 6 month old abroad and I'm going to share our must haves and how we packed *relatively* light since it was still cold and we needed big jackets and all the baby gear as well. 

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GEAR

We didn't bring a stroller or car seat. The streets of Paris are packed and narrow and I didn't want to fight a stroller through crowds. We rented a car seat when we needed on and used our Tula wrap for everything else. Highly recommend doing this- it was so much easier to get in and out of trains with no stroller and I loved having Wren snuggled up on me. Luke and I took turns as we walked with the carrier and I never got tired of it. Wren is used to being in a carrier so she loved it as well. 

We took one checked bag with mainly our clothes, toiletries and some baby food for Wren. We carried on my weekender bag which we used as a diaper bag with all of Wren's stuff and snacks for us all. Luke carried technology in his backpack. 

We used this bassinet for her to sleep in and it was great. We even took it on the plane for our first flight but she didn't want to sleep. Did you know you can bring a bassinet on a plane and it doesn't count against your carry on count? We actually asked and got moved for the flight back home to the bulkhead seats which have a built in bassinet. It wasn't available on our flight over there but its always worth asking for! We flew Delta and had a great experience. 

We kept her toys clipped to her with these- great for trains and airports with yucky floors. 

These disposable changing pads were great for a quick change or for a playmat in the airport. 

We brought this portable fabric high chair with us but didn't end up using it. Loved how small it was though!

These compression bags are how we got our down jackets in the suitcase. Helps save so much space! I bought Wren a down snow suit from gap and compressed it with our jackets. The weather is super unpredictable at that time of year but it ended up being great. It was highs in the 50's and sunny and we never got cold, even being out super early. We did bring small lightweight rain jackets because Paris is notorious for spring rain but it only misted on us a few times. 

I nursed on the go with help from these nursing tanks. Great to layer under normal shirts and still allows you to nurse. We also packed a few Aden and Anais swaddles which are always good to have for nursing and they fold down so small. 

We were planning on only bringing enough diapers and wipes for the plan ride and then buy more there to save on space but we ended up having extra room in my carry on and I put some extras in there and it ended up being enough for the whole week!

I bought these $10 sunglasses and wore them the whole trip and still wear them every day. Love em!

These sneakers and these waterproof booties are they only shoes I packed and they were great. My jacket is from Gap (not available now). It was the best and I wore it the whole trip. 

Whew, I think thats it! Kudos if you made it to the end of this long post! It was such a fun trip and I'm already planning our next trip!