One thing you take for granted before having kids is how easy it is to travel. At least I know I sure did! Even though traveling can be exhausting for anyone, attempting it with a baby or multiple children is on a whole other level. But you also shouldn't put your love of traveling on hold just because you have a baby. With a little extra planning, harnessing your patience and utilizing some tools to make it easier, traveling with your baby can be something you look forward to.
These are our best tips to help you prepare for your trip with your baby as well as what to do on an airplane, in the car, and once you reach your destination.
Prepping for the Trip
Getting ready for a trip is usually the hardest part of the entire process. But prepping and organizing everything you need is key to make the rest of your vacation go smoothly. With a baby, there are some extra details you'll need to consider. Having the essentials ready to go ahead of time, as well as some "just in case" items will ensure that your baby (and you!) can travel comfortably.
Before your trip:
- Sort everything you’ll need for your baby by the day. Some people even put their baby's daily outfits in separate baggies to make daily dressing a cinch.
- Bring extra of everything. I know this might sound like a hassle, but it's always better to have too much than not enough. This includes formula, diapers, pacifiers, etc.
- Any conveniences you use to help with your baby should be brought along with you as long as they are travel-friendly. A portable bottle warmer like The Baby's Brew is a perfect example!
- Older babies will also be entertained by new toys or books they haven't seen before so this can be a great investment.
- If you're traveling internationally, check with your pediatrician to ensure that your child has the proper immunizations for wherever you may be heading.
- Make sure your baby gets extra sleep pre-trip if possible. Your baby is sure to be off their routine once you're vacationing, so this can help offset that.
Traveling By Airplane
The first airplane ride with a baby can bring anxious feelings for parents. You really have no idea how your baby will be on the plane until you just "rip off the band-aid" and do it. In my experience, babies under one generally do great on the airplane as long as they are well-fed and have lots of snuggles.
I think the number one rule of traveling, and airplane travel specifically, is let your schedule go out the window. You need to forget your expectations and understand that just as traveling is stressful on adults, it is on babies, too.
So what does this mean? It means that if you need to have your baby attached to your boob for the entire plane ride because that's what they want, then do it. Letting your baby breastfeed for practically 3 hours straight because it comforts them isn't going to ruin their normal schedule.
Or if you're on the plane and it isn't nap time, but they are tired - just let them sleep! This is one of the times I would say, "Never wake a sleeping baby."
If your baby is a little older, a lollipop on an airplane can also be a lifesaver. Even if you've had a no sweets rule thus far, this might be a good time to let that go.
Road Tripping with a Baby
The keyword here is flexibility. Road tripping with a baby will probably look a lot different than the road trips you took prior to her arrival - especially the longer ones.
You can't make a plan for each of your stops, because this will ultimately be dictated by your baby. Such as when she needs a diaper changed, or needs to be fed.
You might also find yourself needing to pump breastmilk in the car while driving, which is probably on the list of things you never thought you'd do before you had kids!
Other suggestions include:
- sitting in the backseat with your baby to distract them and keep them happy
- turn on a movie. Even if you normally say no to screen time for your little one, this one can really help you all stay sane when you're spending hours in the car
- keeping any comforts from home available such as a lovey, blanket, pacifier, favorite book, or relaxing music. These will help relax your baby and help them fall asleep in the car.
Making a Comfortable Hotel Stay
Staying in a hotel is often one of the best parts of traveling. But being cooped up in one room with a baby means you need to be a little more strategic in order to make your hotel stay a comfortable one.
Here are some tips:
- Call the hotel ahead of time to have them set up a pack and play for you. In fact, you can even call before booking to ensure this is an available option. You can even set it up in the bathroom if there is enough room! This might sound funny, but it's a safe and quiet spot for your little one to sleep.
- Only stay somewhere with a fridge. This is pretty much a necessity for pumping moms who may need to store breastmilk (see our article "4 Best Tips for Handling and Storing Breastmilk" for guidelines.)
- Baby-proof the room as you are able. This will help keep your baby safe while also keeping your own stress level down.
The described tips will ensure your traveling experience is an enjoyable one!