You want to travel but have a young child?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Becoming a first-time mom in July 2016 definitely made traveling different, but not difficult. If you’re at all like me, then you like to be organized the best you can. Whether your child is a newborn or even a young toddler, this can bring great insight to your next travel adventures when traveling with a baby.
One in four parents do not travel or take family holiday vacations because they are too stressful. It CAN be difficult, but it is also a phenomenal experience for both the family and the children, sharing experiences that will last a life time. There are some key ingredients in making your trip a success..
First things first, be prepared!
In the car…
Make sure your child is in an up to date car seat that is rear facing, if under 2, and installed properly before leaving. I know this is an obvious one, but the car must be a safe car with airbags. I am always sure to restock the diaper bag before leaving the house. Have plenty of diapers, baby wipes, changing pad, snacks, an extra outfit, formula (If bottle fed), water and bottles, ointments, lotions, and entertainment. If possible, bring a stroller, and a baby carrier.
How & what to pack…
Start preparing a few days in advance, the last thing you want, and something I do often, is procrastinate and do it all at the last minute. Whether flying or driving those tiny humans need A LOT of things when leaving the house. Here is a checklist of things to be sure to pack for your little one:
- Diapers and wipes
You should bring one diaper for each hour you are in transit and extras just in case.
It’s good to bring a few – you’ll use them to cover baby, cover yourself if baby allows it when nursing, use it to burp baby, shade your baby, and more.
- Plastic Bags
Carry a variety of sizes for storing soiled diapers, clothes, and blankets. Also, it’s a great travel hack to put planned outfits in a zip lock storage bag for easy access.
- Diaper Rash Cream, sunscreen and sun hat
- Hand Sanitizer, baby wash, baby lotion & tissues
- Extra Binkis (if baby uses one) and a few favorite toys
- Clothes, socks, shoes and bibs One to two outfits per day is a great guideline to follow.
- Baby food with utensils or formula, bottles, and water Don’t forget those energy boosting snacks for YOU!
- Breast pump (if you use one)
- First-aid kit with Baby Tylenol.
- Portable crib, if not able to, see if hotel has crib available
Get to the airport early, our first time flying we showed up 3 hours early, you do not have to arrive that early, but 2 hours is recommended. TSA can be a hassle especially when carrying a child. They have a TSA PreCheck that you can apply for by having a background check done before your travel day. Luckily, I got the PreCheck without applying. It made it so easy! Instead of having to take shoes off and what not you just had to walk through a body scanner and then have hands checked. I HIGHLY recommend trying to get this advantage.
While waiting for your plane to board charge your devices, not all plane seats have outlets. Nurse or feed baby to prepare for flight. Having children is a bonus when boarding because you get to board first! A lot of parents buy separate seats and bring car seats on the plane, but we did not. Baby’s stroller and car seat were checked for free through Delta. With the changing in altitude, your ears will pop as well as baby’s ears. Best advice I have for you is either give baby a binki, something to suck on, or nurse. All babies react differently when flying, you have the screamers, criers, the babies that just pass out, or the curious ones. My daughter was very curious. She watched out the window until she got tired and napped. Also, don’t be afraid to change baby right there at your seat (I had to).
Now this one can be more difficult. Most of our longer car rides are rough at first because my daughter HATES being restrained in a carseat and not able to fully move around. Be sure to bring snacks, toys, and all diaper changing necessities. I have recently seen a “hack” to maintain child’s chillness when in the car by velcroing a tablet to the back seat and playing cartoons, but in case of an accident it is not the safest thing to do. Eventually baby will fall asleep and all will be smooth sailing. Make sure if you are traveling for more than a couple hours you stop and let baby out to stretch and change diaper and nurse/feed.
This goes for overnight driving. Believe me, it’s not as hard as it sounds! My family and I did this a few months back when moving and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. My daughter surprisingly slept most of the night drive and was comfortable the next day while we traveled a total of 20+ hours. Like I said before, provide snacks, toys, cartoons, songs, and plenty of stops along the way.
When you get to your given destination it will feel great to get into your hotel, rented home (through Airbnb), or even a relatives’ home. I for one, do not enjoy living out of my suitcase when I stay at a hotel. It is best to unpack sooner rather than later. The way I do it, is unpack my daughter’s stuff, then mine, then my husband’s, I’m a control freak so I like doing the packing/unpacking.
Whatever schedule you have at home keep to it the best you can! Obviously, it won’t be an exact schedule. My 9 month old takes at least 2-3 naps a day, and is in bed by 11 pm, at the latest. While on vacation she stays up later than usual since we stay out much later than normal. If your child starts to get tired and it is time for a nap, but you are out and away from your hotel, take a nice scenic drive and explore wherever you are while the child naps in the backseat.
Above I mentioned bringing a portable crib, like a pack n play or something similar, when traveling. If you are unable to bring that then you can ask your hotel concierge if they have a baby crib available on hand. If not, try and get a room with a king-sized bed, so that there is plenty of room, and have your child sleep between you and your significant other. If you are uncomfortable with this option, get a room with two double beds and push one of the beds all the way to wall and have child sleep on the inside by the wall to restrain from rolling off.
This here is a BIG one! Before having my daughter, I made the goal to breastfeed until at least one year. Thankfully, we have succeeded for 9 months this far. At first I read all of these horror stories about awful people who bash a mom for nursing in public, especially without a cover. If you breastfeed, or have breastfed, at first covering up sounds so simple, and it is. But, after your baby gets older he/she will learn that being covered up sucks! As a parent, nursing in a restroom is hot, stuffy and seems to drag on! I broke out of my comfort zone one day and nursed my daughter while eating at Olive Garden WITHOUT a cover. After that one time, I have never gone back to nursing in the restrooms or in the car while the rest of my family is enjoying dinner. Don’t be discouraged about breastfeeding anywhere. I have nursed on the beach, at a baseball game, at a wedding, and even in the ocean! While traveling, you shouldn’t compromise your comfortability or way of life just to please society.
Hopefully this will help you and your family the next time you want to travel or visit family with a baby for the holidays without stressing too much. Vacation should be fun and relaxing! Planning it can be fun and exciting also. My checklist of what to bring and how to accommodate a trip with a baby should make your next outing a breeze!