Fraser Walters travels around the world as part of the award-winning Canadian vocal group, The Tenors. It’s a glamorous gig, but the Vancouver-born performer and his partner, talented singer-songwriter Kelly Levesque, definitely have their hands full when on the road. That’s because there’s a third frequent flyer in their entourage—their baby girl, Hope.
First-time dad Fraser shares with Canadian Family some of his colourful behind-the-scenes travel tales—plus some practical travel advice on how to successfully fly the skies with your baby right by your side!
There wasn’t much of a decision to be made. Both my wife and I are constantly on the road as touring recording artists, so baby Hope has inadvertently joined the circus.
I’m literally responding to this while on a flight from Kauai to Los Angeles; Hope is finally sleeping beside me in Kelly’s arms after a mini-meltdown! You never know when they’re going to strike, but the combination of early-morning flights, cramped quarters, 10- to 15-percent humidity, turbulence, interrupted naps and changing time zones can make monsters of us all!
As for keeping her entertained, 99 percent of the time she’s been amazing with a mix of reading books, learning videos, keeping her fed and hydrated, and long walks up and down the plane as she stops to gently tickle the arms and legs of lucky aisle-seated passengers.
When we travel as a family, I’m on diaper duty because I always sit on the aisle. I’ve experienced all manner of cramped and crummy toilets, and one quirk I have is I like to leave the space better than I found it. I think that’s partly because it’s the right thing to do, and partly because I don’t want the person after me blaming Hope and I for the mess. Needless to say if the music career doesn’t work out, I have my backup plan!
One pro tip is that a car-seat bag does not fit only a car-seat, so fill ‘er up! On the other hand, my wife and I have made serious concessions with our own luggage and we look like we’re the equipment handlers for a hockey team. On our first flight with Hope (and every flight thereafter), I exchanged my trusty Tumi rolling laptop bag for the biggest allowable carry-on bag—to accommodate both my work gear and baby supplies. Now when I travel without Hope and get searched at security I get funny looks for having random diapers, but I just smile and nod.
I think Hope is more active on social media than I am at this point, so I should ask her. But seriously, our Tenors fans have been so supportive of all of our families and we love meeting them on the road! In fact, babies are a perfect icebreaker and I’ve seen Hope bring a lot of joy to many weary travellers.
We were on a tour of the U.S. east coast and a great friend of the Tenors Family, Bubba Rawl, invited us for a meal in Raleigh, North Carolina. Little did we know, our dinner reservations were for a unique barbecue joint on a far-away airstrip that included a round-trip helicopter flight! It was an unforgettable sunset, and when baby Hope realized her voice was coming through everyone’s noise-cancelling headphones, she started shouting “directions” to the pilot and we got home safe and sound.
I’m so glad a fan captured this picture because it’s a moment I’ll never forget. It was actually the night after the helicopter ride and I was on stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center in North Carolina. While I was in the middle of a heartfelt speech about my new daughter, I heard a lot of unexpected rumbling and laughs from the audience only to find Victor walking on stage with Hope in his arms. She was so calm and when Vic passed her to me, the crowd cheered and just as the clapping died down, Hope started to clap herself! Well that got the crowd clapping again, and this went back and forth a few times like a tennis match—it was hilarious. The moment this picture was taken I had just mentioned “she’s only nine months old but she’s the boss now” and she clapped immediately which made the crowd laugh and cheer, I think that’s when she officially stole the show.
At some point we’ll likely have to pick a home base unless we do home schooling, but it’s hard for us to know right now. We’ve recently been splitting time between L.A., Nashville and now New York where my wife grew up. One constant in this career is change, and so is the need to be spontaneous, so we’re open to different possibilities. When it comes to being away from my girls for longer periods, it’s already difficult but we try not to exceed two to three weeks. I don’t want to think about it being longer than that.
You are allowed water for the baby, so don’t drain all your bottles before security. If you transition to formula there are great pre-made travel bottles, which I used on my first daughter-daddy solo flights when Hope was six months old! To board the plane, use a BabyBjörn or Ergobaby type of carrier so you can have your hands free for everything else. Also, make sure to bring extra diapers, wipes, clothing, food, books and toys for “expected delays.”