Danielle Walish and Ashley Melone have been best friends since Middle School, so when they had their children within a few weeks of each other and couldn’t find stylish clothing that allowed them to nurse (or pump) easily while working and traveling, they decided to do something about it. “We couldn’t find anything to wear that we were inspired and excited by, so we decided to create a line for ourselves and the fashionable women we knew in our lives,” explains Walish. Their solution: Madri Collection, a “ready-to-mother” line of chic, simple pieces—cross-over and panel tops, dresses, jumpsuits and trousers in soft washable cottons—started as a string of text messages, and was inspired by European attitudes towards nursing and motherhood. Here, the entrepreneurs, Melone, a former theater producer, and Walish, an interior designer, offer their best advice on traveling with a baby, the benefits of baby moons, packing tips for the toddler set, their ideal seat mates and more.
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You both have young children. Are attitudes around the world different towards people traveling with a baby than they are in the U.S.?
Danielle Walish: Most cultures are a lot more relaxed about traveling with children than we are in the United States. Last summer, I went to Europe with my toddler and everywhere we went—restaurants, beaches, city squares—she found a playmate. In terms of nursing, I also never really felt stigmatized, but I would say as a general rule, it’s always good to look up cultural norms before traveling to a foreign country.
What has been your best travel experience with your child/children so far? What made it successful?
Ashley Melone: I’ve done a few long flights alone with my daughter, back and forth from L.A. to New York and New York to London. I was nervous, but they were very smooth (from the first when she was five months to when she was 20 months) and afterward I felt like a superhero for having made it in one piece! I am loyal to JetBlue for domestic flights; in their Mosaic cabin, they have a single seat (rows two and four) with a door that slides closed (it’s perfect for wrangling a toddler!). Those seats have made it much easier to travel alone, especially when I was seven months pregnant with my second child.
Did you take a babymoon or travel while you were pregnant?
DW: I traveled quite a bit when I was pregnant, both for work and vacation, and my husband and I went to Martha’s Vineyard for a babymoon.
AM: I went to Florida, Martha’s Vineyard, Seattle and Vancouver. My husband was performing in a Broadway show the entire time I was pregnant with my daughter, so unfortunately we couldn’t take a babymoon until after she was born. But when she was ten months old, we went to Kauai and Maui for ten days. When I was pregnant with my son, I traveled quite a bit more—to London, Barcelona, and California (Santa Barbara and L.A.).
Who is your ideal seatmate?
DW: A grandparent! Grandparents are the best seatmates, because your child makes them think of their own grandkid, and that will be an excuse for them to engage.
AM: My husband!
Worst mistake you made while traveling with your baby (so far)?
DW: Overpacking! Only bring what you really need.
AM: Definitely bringing too many things on the plane. Check whatever you can to lighten your load!
What’s always in your carry-on?
DW: Baby wipes, snacks, infant Tylenol and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies.
AM: Always baby wipes and diapers, a scarf/swaddle blanket (because airplanes are cold!), snacks, toys, my iPad, a change of clothes for the babies; for snacks, Bobo’s granola bars, Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies, Health Warrior Chia Bars.
You always check….
DW: The weather where I’m headed, to make sure I have the right clothes for my daughter.
AM: I always check the stroller and everything else I don’t need right away.
Any airplane or flight tricks to keep kids under two occupied?
DW: Pack a few new toys and wrap them as gifts. Take them out throughout the flight and let your child open one at a time. It’s a great distraction, and fun! Also if you are still breastfeeding, you can always nurse.
AM: Nursing (if applicable!) and an iPad (flights are not the time to worry about screen time).
Favorite place to travel with kids?
DW: Anywhere with a beach! My daughter can stay occupied with the sand for hours.
AM: We went to a fabulous hotel in the Cotswolds with our daughter that I found through Indagare—it caters to traveling with infants. It was amazing. Also Kauai. We went when my daughter was ten months old and it was perfect.
Where are you headed next with your kids and why?
DW: I’d love to go to Todos Santos, Mexico as a family.
AM: Florida, to visit my parents. It will be my first time traveling with two kids two and under, so we wanted our first flight to be a short one. We are planning to go to Europe in the new year and Cartagena is also high on my list.
What has being a traveling parent taught you?
DW: Patience and the art of being prepared for the unpredictable.
AM: To let go and breathe—and to realize that you can never be too prepared for a trip!
Contact Indagare for help planning your Zika-free babymoon or traveling with small children. Our trip designers can help you find the best hotels, restaurants and activities to suit all your needs.